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Written by Sam Yadegar on Sep 23 , 2020

Let’s break down two popular social media ad types to determine which one might be right for your brand and goals. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • The difference between promoted posts and paid social ads
  • How these social media marketing ads operate
  • When to use each type of paid social ad
  • Which social ad might be right for your brand

Whether your customers like to tweet about social issues, spark conversations on Facebook, or post picturesque outdoorsy scenes on Instagram, having a business presence on the main social media platforms is a great way to connect with your target audience.

Social media is a huge part of consumers’ lives today. It’s where many of them get their news, stay connected to friends and family, and even research and buy products or services. 

Of course, you want your brand’s social media posts to be seen by as many people as possible. Even more importantly, you want your posts to be seen by the right people. 

Influencers might make it look easy, but mastering social media marketing is no easy feat. Many find it difficult to know the difference between terms that sound similar. Even once you have the jargon down, mapping out the right strategy can be a delicate task.

When you’re delving into paid social ads, you may come across two different options: creating ads and campaigns from scratch, and “boosting” or promoting existing organic posts. You can see these options on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

But what do they mean? What’s the difference? When should you use each? Knowledge is power, so let’s dive into paid social ad types and see what we can discover.

facebook boosted posts

Facebook’s explanation of boosted posts. (via facebook.com)

What are boosted posts?

A promoted or boosted post is a social media post that you pay the platform to make more visible. To boost a post is to promote it to a wider audience. On Twitter, these ads are called “promoted” tweets. Basically, you’re boosting the post’s reach so it can be seen by more people. Depending on the platform, you may be able to set any of the following variables:

  • Target audience: Decide which people you want your post to reach. You can target followers, people who have liked your page, or friends of followers. You can also segment by age, gender, location, interest, or create your own custom demographics.
  • Location of focus: Choose where in the world you want people to see it. If you have a promotion in a specific country, you can target that location and people who have listed it as their home country. If you target the right audience, you can potentially maximize your return on investment (ROI) and save precious marketing dollars.
  • Timeframe: How long should the post be promoted? Maybe you have a sale and you want to draw in as many people as possible. Once the sale is over, the post won’t be promoted anymore.
  • Budget: How much do you want to spend? The bigger the budget, the more people will see it (no surprise there). For example, a budget as little as $2 a day could help you reach as many as 872 people, while $15 could put your post in front of 6,834 people.  

The general idea behind boosted or promoted posts is that you can either grow the reach of a well-performing organic post, or create an ad from a post without creating a whole marketing campaign around it. 

hawk promoted social IG

The “Promote” option allows HawkSEM to get this Instagram post in front of a wider audience for a fee. (via Instagram)

What are paid social ads?

In general, paid social ads are any form of advertising or marketing on social media platforms that you pay to have shown to the target audience. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
  • Influencer marketing partnerships
  • Social media display ads
  • In-feed ads

Depending on the content, paid social ads could have more of a call-to-action (CTA) message, and be part of a larger overall campaign. This could be anything from a general awareness campaign to a campaign around an event like a holiday sale or upcoming live webinar. 

The way these ads are displayed depends on the ad options you choose and the platform you’re advertising on. For example, Twitter ads can be on a user’s timeline or under the “What’s happening” tab to the right of the feed. And LinkedIn offers an ad type that will send a private message to users who fit a certain audience targeting profile. 

promoted social tweet

Here’s how promoted posts look on Twitter. (via twitter.com)

What’s the difference between promoted posts and paid social ads?

You may have noticed that, according to the above definition of paid social ads, promoted posts could technically fall under that umbrella. One of the main differences between the two is that paid ads were created as ads, whereas boosted posts were posted organically, for free (the boosting or promotion is where the budget comes into play). 

Some marketers feel like promoted posts are more natural and subliminal-looking than paid social ads. Another difference is the options. With paid social ads, you have quite a few additional options that allow for more advanced customization. Depending on the platform, these may include:

  • Where on the platform or related media the ad will be visible
  • The ability to optimize for more and/or broader goals for the action generated by the audience
  • More ad types, formatting options, additional graphics, and ad features
  • What time of day your ad is seen

When and why should you boost a post?

It’s important to know how to determine which organic posts are worth promoting. There are some specific goals that boosting a post is great at achieving. These include:

  • Growing brand recognition
  • Increasing post engagement
  • Fueling website traffic
  • Increasing the reach or engagement of an already high-performing post

As HubSpot explains, if you just want more eyes on a certain webpage, then promoted tweets might be a great option for you. For this option, they add, you pay a flat monthly fee for as long as you’re promoting a tweet.

All business accounts on the platforms with this feature should have access to a “boost post” or “promote” button next to the “publish” button or once their post is live. Keep in mind that the platform may take time to review your post first, so be careful with time-sensitive content. 

linkedin sidebar social ads

A look at the ads sidebar on LinkedIn’s homepage. (via linkedin.com)

When and why should you create paid social ads?

Paid social ads have several strengths of their own. They excel at accomplishing things like:

  • Generating leads
  • Increasing conversion rates
  • Growing event RSVPs or newsletter signups
  • Encouraging a specific action (like app downloads)

Paid social ads may be the way to go when you’re looking for more ROI-generating results in a shorter amount of time. To build up your audience or grow your followers, you may want the added options that come with actual paid social ads vs. promoted posts. 

How can you determine which is right for you?

It isn’t always a matter of picking just one method that fits your business. Since each approach is best at creating different outcomes, it makes sense to use both, but in separate circumstances. Your goal will be the main factor in determining which technique is ideal for you.

Good reasons to boost a post include:

  • Inform followers of updates and new features
  • Highlight new content
  • Increase views for brand awareness
  • Promote one-time events

Good reasons to launch paid social campaigns include:

  • Inform a new audience of your product or service
  • Drive sales by convincing leads to make a purchase  
  • Compel the specific behavior stated in your CTA
  • Significantly grow your audience
boosted paid social posts

While post boosting and paid social ads are similar in some ways, they also have key differences that allow them to specialize in different areas. (Image via Unsplash)

The takeaway

The ultimate aim of social media is to help people connect. And with so many consumers using these platforms, creating a thoughtful, strategic presence can be a game-changer for your business. 

Luckily, these platforms keep improving and simplifying their social media marketing tools to help you reach the most people and meet your  goals.

While promoted social and paid social media ads are similar in some ways, they also have key differences that allow them to specialize in different areas. Knowing how to use them to their fullest potential is crucial. 

The guidelines above should help you differentiate between which circumstances call for each so you can make the most of your social media marketing strategy and get the most ROI out of your marketing dollars.

For more paid social tips, check out our articles on best practices for ads for TwitterInstagram,  Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Sep 11 , 2020

Odds are, your B2B customers are on social media — here’s how to make paid social ads work for you.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How paid social media marketing can benefit B2B companies
  • Which social media channels are worth your attention
  • The latest marketing tactics to employ for B2B paid social media
  • A breakdown of best practices on various platforms

The hype around social media marketing (SMM) doesn’t stop at the B2C level. In fact, more than 80% of B2B marketers reportedly use social media, making it one of the key digital marketing tactics to have in your arsenal.

B2B paid social media advertising can be an excellent lead generation and conversion strategy. Its ability to reach the target audience and point it in the right direction is highly advanced — and often underestimated.

Why you should consider B2B paid social media marketing

While many B2B marketers know all the staggering social media user statistics, they tend to focus on other strategies first.

Somehow, social media platforms earned a reputation for being places where people come solely for entertainment. The other myth is that it takes forever to achieve any results with social media advertising.

In reality, organic social media posting does take a decent amount of time and effort to show results. And B2B companies may not have sufficient time, resources, and patience to achieve the desired outcome. That’s where social media ads come in.

Paid social media advertising can achieve faster and more substantial results than organic posting, which is exactly what B2B companies usually want. Today, 72% of B2B marketers who use paid channels online take advantage of paid social.

b2b paid social media

For B2B companies, LinkedIn is widely considered to be the useful social media channel. (Image via Rawpixel)

The top 4 paid social media advertising channels to consider

It’s a good idea to use as many channels as possible when you’re first experimenting with paid social. That way, you can see which posts and platforms resonate most with your audience. 

However, we also know there’s a limit to how much you can stretch a marketing budget. These are the main social media platforms your B2B brand can start exploring:

1. LinkedIn

For B2B companies, LinkedIn is widely considered to be the useful social media channel. LinkedIn ad options include sponsored posts, sponsored InMail, and pay-per-click text ads. 

The platform also offers a variety of extensive targeting tools for reaching your ideal audience.

2. YouTube

Today, YouTube is much more than a video-sharing social media channel. Believe it or not, it’s the No. 2 search engine after Google

This video platform’s popularity makes it a top contender when you’re considering paid social. YouTube boasts a variety of paid advertising options, including display ads and bumper ads. You can promote both your videos and products through ads.  

3. Twitter

Twitter can be a highly productive social media channel when it comes to B2B marketing. Not only does it have hundreds of millions of users, but it’s also the second most-used platform for content marketing purposes after LinkedIn.

Twitter is also an excellent place for real-time interacting with clients and educating them about your products. The platform provides numerous opportunities for paid promotion of your tweets and accounts, and strategically leveraging hashtags can increase your exposure that much more. 

4. Facebook

While having immense outreach, Facebook has made it so that it’s nearly impossible to get significant traction from organic posts. Unsurprisingly, Facebook offers paid ad options, most of which are relatively cost-efficient. You can set a specific budget for running ads and promoting certain posts.

Even though this platform doesn’t have as many laser-focused targeting capabilities as LinkedIn, the 2.7 billion active monthly users make it a channel that’s certainly worth considering. 

b2b paid social media

Facebook determines how relevant your ads are to the audience you’re trying to reach. (Image via Unsplash)

Paid social media advertising tactics for B2B marketing

Best practices for B2B paid social media advertising change regularly. As these platforms add new functionalities, it’s vital to incorporate them into your strategy in a timely manner so you can stay relevant and competitive. Here are some ways to do just that.

1. Target group members on LinkedIn

To generate the highest quality leads, pay special attention to LinkedIn Groups when selecting targeting options. The platform describes their groups as “a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share their insights and experiences, ask for guidance, and build valuable connections.”

People are likely to join the group only if they are explicitly interested in the topic, ao you can advertise to group members while being fairly certain you’re reaching the right audience. To find relevant groups, simply type the keywords into LinkedIn’s “what group you want to target” section.

Pro tip: When targeting on LinkedIn, don’t forget to exclude competitors.

2. Explore promoting posts over text ads

When it comes to paid social media marketing, most platforms tend to give more attention to promoting posts, accounts, and channels over text ads. Promoted posts usually stand out better and fit organically into the users’ feed as well.

If you’re on a tight budget, leave the text for PPC ads. If not, you can use both text ads and post, channel, or account promotion on social media. Of course, that means you have to make sure your social media content is high-quality, which is also beneficial for your organic SMM efforts.

3. Use Facebook’s Ad Relevance Diagnostics tool

Facebook determines how relevant your ads are to the audience you’re trying to reach. The more relevant the ad is, the less it costs, and the higher chance it has of showing up in the right place at the right time.

Use the Ad Relevance Diagnostics tool to find out how well you’re doing when it comes to relevancy. While relevance isn’t necessarily the key indicator of an ad’s performance, it can help you increase the overall ROI of your campaign.

Need more help with your paid social strategy? Let’s talk. 

4. Leverage lead gen forms on Facebook and LinkedIn

Lead form ads are designed to collect information from the target audience, offer deals or promotions, and manage inquiries from potential customers.

By properly designing a lead form ad, you can collect valuable data not just from your current audience, but from lookalike audiences as well.

Pro tip: When uploading your CRM data to Facebook to find your clients on the platform and create lookalike audiences, don’t be taken aback by a low list match rate. Matching emails to accounts can be tough, since people usually use personal emails to sign up for social media.

5. Use website demographics on LinkedIn

It’s no secret that paid advertising on LinkedIn is more expensive than on other platforms. To cut costs, you need to focus on analytics. Luckily, LinkedIn allows you to monitor who is interacting with your ads.

With Website Demographics, you can check job titles, employers or companies, and industries of ad viewers to adjust your paid marketing campaign accordingly.

The takeaway

Paid social media advertising can be a highly useful B2B marketing tool. The ability to reach a wide audience coupled with an impressive variety of targeting options can help you improve advertising efforts substantially.

Once you’ve seen success on a platform or two, you can put more effort into those social media marketing ads and conduct tests to help you optimize accordingly.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Written by Caroline Cox on Jul 23 , 2020

Your leads could be browsing on Pinterest — here’s how to get their attention on the popular platform.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What Pinterest Ads are
  • Steps to create a Pinterest Ads account for your business
  • Best practices for creating ads 
  • Why these paid social ads are worth exploring

More than any other social media platform, Pinterest is where people go to be inspired. What’s more, with 300 million people active on Pinterest each month, 89% of Pinners in the U.S. use the site on their path to making a purchase. 

Anyone can publish content on Pinterest by uploading images or videos. As a brand, you can also connect a product feed that’ll turn every product into a Pin, or publish from your site by linking your RSS feed to have the platform automatically create new Pins. And with all that purchasing intent, it stands to reason that Pinterest Ads are worth a second look.

pinterest ad manager

A look at creating an ad from an existing Pin on Pinterest (Image via Pinterest)

Using Pinterest Ads Manager to promote your content

Pinterest has made it pretty easy to get up and running on their ads platform. Once you create a business account, you go to the Ads dropdown menu on ads.pinterest.com and select “Create ad.” From there, you’ll choose a campaign goal based on the action you want people to take from your ad.

Next, you’ll enter your ad group details and make selections for things like your budget, targeting, and the run dates of your campaign. After that, you’ll select the dates for your campaign, add your budget, and set a maximum bid. 

Next, you’ll decide which Pin you want to promote in your campaign (make sure the Pin’s name is accurate and that it links to the proper URL). Once everything looks good, it’s time to launch your ad. 

Pro tip: All ads are reviewed by the Pinterest team to ensure ad policies are being followed — this process can take up to 24 hours, so don’t panic if it takes a day for your ad to be live.

pinterest ads in feed

An example of how ads look when browsing the Pinterest site (Image via Pinterest)

1. Prioritize the visuals

Much like Instagram, Pinterest is all about the visuals. If your image isn’t high quality and engaging, you risk getting lost in the shuffle. Some experts recommend keeping images simple and vertically aligned so they’re easy to see on mobile. The recommended ratio for Pins is 2:3, or 1,000 by 1,500 pixels.

For Pin titles, you can up to 100 characters, with the first 30-35 actually showing in feeds. (It’s wise, of course, to use keywords in your title.) For description, you get up to 500 characters, but Pinterest advises prioritizing the first 50-60.

With the limited amount of characters you get for your image description, some brands add text to the image itself to maximize the amount of words you can pair with your visual.

2. Determine the right format for your goal

There are five main ad formats you can choose from when it comes to your Pinterest ad. The one or ones you opt to use will depend on your overall goals. These formats are:

  • Standard – A basic ad that allows you to showcase your products and content via a vertical or square image format
  • Video – Use a looping video clip to grab viewers’ attention and tell a story
  • Shopping – Easily convert Pins of your products into their own ads that can be clicked on to take the user right to the purchase page
  • Carousel – Lets you showcase multiple images in a single ad that viewers can swipe through
  • Collections – A stylish way to mix individual products images with a larger image showing the items in context (like a living room image above individual photos of a lamp, couch, and coffee table)

Depending on your offering, you can play around with various ad types to see which ones resonate most with your audience. 

Pro tip: If you’re unsure about what format to try, consider video. Later Media reports that video content is thriving on Pinterest in 2020, “with Video Pins quickly becoming one of the top creative tools for brands, businesses, and creators.”

pinterest ads budget

How to enter your Pinterest campaign goals and details (Image via Pinterest)

3. Figure out your budget

When it comes to pricing, Pinterest makes setting your budget pretty simple. You can determine how much you want to spend daily, the duration of your campaign, and which audience action you want to pay for. These actions could be views, engagement, or clickthroughs. 

Plus, it’s easy to turn your ad off anytime if you’re worried about blowing through your budget too quickly. As a reminder, your ad groups are where you determine things like targeting, your schedule, and your budget.

For more paid social tips, check out our articles on best practices for ads for TwitterInstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn.

4. Take advantage of the targeting options

Speaking of targeting, you can choose one or multiple segments from the following targeting options:

  • Audiences – Combine your own data with Pinterest’s to reach those who have previously made a purchase on your site or have engaged with your Pinterest content in the past 
  • Demographics – Allow you to reach users by specific location, device, gender, or language
  • Interests – Targets users who have created boards, engaged with Pins, or have shown interest in a relevant topic
  • Keywords – Allow you to reach people who are searching for a specific topic on Pinterest 
  • Placements – Choose if you want your ads shown in Pinterest search results, while users browse, or both
  • Expanded – Pinterest populates additional interests and keywords based on the ones you’ve already chosen along with your ad content and audience

All of the ad decisions you make should take your target audience into account, from the language in your copy to the visuals you choose. Once you’ve nailed down your ideal client persona, it shouldn’t be too difficult to determine what’s bound to appeal to them most.

pinterest promoted pins

How to add existing Pins to an ad group (Image via Pinterest)

5. Keep an eye on performance

You may be surprised by how much success you find through Pinterest ads. Alternatively, you may find that the platform simply isn’t used by enough of your target audience. The only way to know how successful your ads are is to track their performance.

Pinterest encourages brands to promote Pins they’ve created that are already popular, as it’ll be easier to get these Pins more exposure. From there, you can check out the Analytics section in your account to gauge performance. And, of course, you should test a few different strategies and ad elements to ensure your campaigns are optimized. 

E-commerce brands with active accounts can take things a step further by enrolling in the verified merchant program, which adds a verification check symbol to your account and allows you to have a “Shop” tab on your profile page. 

Pro tip: Pinterest offers two ways to create ads: one is more automated, while the other is more manual and customized. Once you get familiar with the platform, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the advanced tool settings that let you build and edit campaigns, ad groups and custom targeting in Ads Manager.

create pin

Pinterest offers tools to create the most effective Pins for your audience (Image via Pinterest)

The takeaway

Pinterest is where people go to find inspiration — whether it’s for their home, career, wardrobe, or next meal. Take advantage of this visual-centric platform to target those who are browsing or searching the site for something that aligns with your product or service.

By being mindful about your content, properly targeting your audience, setting the right budget, and leveraging the proper ad format, you could gain access to a whole new segment of your audience. 

Need a bit more help to get going on Pinterest Ads? You’ve come to the right place. 

 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jul 13 , 2020

From the various ad types to costs, the latest tips and more, here’s the 411 on creating YouTube ads in 2020.

Here, you’ll find:

  • A breakdown of YouTube ad types
  • Average costs for YouTube ads
  • Expert tips for successful YouTube advertising
  • The latest tools worth looking into

From the first “Evolution of Dance” viral video to vloggers-turned-bonafide celebrities, few websites have seen as much rousing success as YouTube. 

So it’s no surprise that YouTube is a fertile ground for advertising. With 73% of adults in the U.S. using the platform and 2 billion unique monthly viewers, it’s likely where members of your target audience can be found.

YouTube ads are an excellent way to reach out to potential clients. After all, when it comes to social media marketing, YouTube is the only online platform that matches Facebook’s reach. Here’s how to make it work for you.

HawkSEM: youtube ads blog

YouTube Ads don’t require a minimum spend. That means you can start as low as you wish and then tweak the budget according to the campaign’s results. (Image via Unsplash)

Types of YouTube Ads  

In 2020, there are six types of YouTube ads to choose from. The type you choose will depend on factors like your niche, budget, and marketing goals.

  • Discovery (display) ads: These appear on the right-hand side of the video on top of the suggestions list when the video isn’t full screen. This 30-second ad runs silently so it doesn’t interfere with the main video. Additionally, these ads can appear on the YouTube search page and mobile homepage.
  • Overlay ads: This banner ad appears in the lower part of the video. The ad can contain text or images. It’s clickable and available only to desktop viewers. A user has a choice to close the ad at any time.
  • In-stream skippable ad: This ad appears in the beginning, middle, or end of the video. It runs for several seconds before giving the viewer a choice to close it. These ads can appear on all devices, including TVs and game consoles.
  • In-stream nonskippable ad: These ads appear the same way as their skippable partners, but they don’t allow skipping. The maximum running time for these ads is 20 seconds.
  • Bumpers: Bumpers are non-skippable ads that appear while the video is running. They can’t be longer than six seconds.
  • Sponsored cards: These clickable ads are similar to overlay ads. They offer content relevant to the video the user is watching (such as products shown in the video). The teaser appears on the right side of the video for a few seconds and then turns into a card icon.

The cost of YouTube advertising in 2020

The cost of YouTube advertising depends on the type of ads you use.

  • In-stream ads, sponsored cards, and overlay ads: These ads are between $0.10 and $0.30 per engagement (view or click). Skippable ads are generally less expensive than non-skippable ads.
  • Discovery ads: Cost about $0.30 per click
  • Bumper ads: These ads are charged by CPM (you pay each time the ad gets 1,000 impressions) — between $1 and $4 per 1,000.

Overall, the average cost of reaching 100,000 viewers can run you around $2,000. Remember, you only pay per view if the user watches the video for 30 seconds. (If the ad is shorter, they have to watch the entire video.)

YouTube Ads don’t require a minimum spend. That means you can start as low as you wish and then tweak the budget according to the campaign’s results. Many companies start with a $10 daily budget and go from there.

Now, let’s dive into some tried-and-true tips for successful YouTube advertising in 2020.

Explore masthead ads

Masthead ads can be a costly ad format, but they’re also known to be effective. They can produce a massive audience reach and achieve a huge boost in brand awareness. These ads appear in the YouTube home feed across all devices. They autoplay on mute for 30 seconds or longer.

The payment for these ads is based on cost-per-day or cost-per-impression. You can only take advantage of mastheads after making a reservation through a Google sales rep. They’ll give you an estimate during a consultation.

Overall, masthead ads provide the highest reach in the shortest period.

HawkSEM blog: YouTube ads

To make in-stream ads appealing to your target audience, focus on attention-grabbing, hyper-targeted content. (Image via Unsplash)

Invest in remarketing

YouTube offers powerful remarketing campaign options. This can be a beneficial ad option since people who have viewed your videos, ads, or channel in the past have a higher conversion potential than brand-new leads. After linking your YouTube channel to your Google Ads account, you can create such remarketing lists as:

  • Viewed videos or ad from a channel
  • Directly viewed a particular video or ad
  • Visited a channel page
  • Liked, added, or shared a video from a channel

You can’t, however, create remarketing lists from views of the bumper and non-skippable ads.

You can also connect your website and YouTube advertising efforts. If someone visits your website and views a certain product, the remarketing feature can advertise the product the next time the visitor watches a YouTube video.

Beef up your in-stream ads

Sure, in-stream ads are a bit more intrusive to the video viewer, but it’s also true that they often bring about impressive results.

These ads have lower conversion rates than other formats but have been shown to aid tremendously in brand awareness. To make in-stream ads appealing to your target audience, focus on attention-grabbing, hyper-targeted content.

Pro tip: The first five seconds are the most important part of the in-stream ad, so prioritize grabbing the viewer’s attention during that time.

You can ensure your in-stream ad is as effective as possible by: 

  • Showing some motion in the first three seconds of the video to hook the audience’s attention
  • Creating curiosity by asking a question but leaving the answer on the other side of the five-second gap
  • Showing your brand name and logo in the first five seconds so that, even if the viewer skips the ad, you achieve brand exposure
  • Keeping ads shorter than 45 seconds
  • Using soft CTAs to lead potential clients to other videos or channels

Use the YouTube Video Builder

This year, YouTube launched the beta version of its Video Builder. This tool lets you animate static content like text, logos, and images with music and transitions for further use as YouTube ads.

This is an excellent opportunity for companies with a low marketing budget to create an impressive multimedia experience for target audiences. Established brands can also use this tool for testing new content.

The Video Builder can help freshen up your existing assets to keep the target audience’s interest piqued without substantial expenses.

The takeaway

YouTube is a highly engaging platform that opens up numerous possibilities for companies across all industries. 

By looking into all the ad types on offer, determining what might catch your target audience’s attention, and ensuring the content is top notch, you can build a successful YouTube ads campaign, even without a huge budget. 

For more paid social tips, check out our articles on best practices for ads for Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jun 19 , 2020

By creating Twitter ads that fit seamlessly into your target audience’s timelines, you can garner attention, improve traffic, and more. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why you should consider Twitter Ads
  • The types of Twitter advertising
  • Examples of Twitter Ads
  • Ways to optimize your ads

Twitter began as (and, arguably, still is) a social media platform to connect virtually with others, share thoughts, and have conversations. These days, it’s also where many people learn breaking news, make jokes, post memes, and fire off random thoughts. 

It’s also a great platform for social media marketing ads.  

If you’re running Facebook and Instagram ads, you may feel like you’re set when it comes to paid social. But if you haven’t even thought about adding Twitter ads into the mix, you may be missing out. 

In fact, Twitter user numbers — and its engagement rates — are growing. Whether you’re already aboard the Twitter Ads campaign train or just want to know more, let’s dive into the info you need to succeed on Twitter in 2020.

Why Twitter Ads deserve your attention

The popularity of Twitter can’t be understated. The platform reportedly has 166 million monetizable daily active users across the globe. When these users are scrolling, some of the tweets in their timelines may be sponsored ads or promoted content. 

Your target audience may very well be active on the Twitter platform. The largest Twitter age demographic (19%) is men between 25 and 34 years of age. The second-largest is 18-24 year-old women. However, Twitter users are hardly all young — more than 15% of them are 50 and up.

hawksem: twitter ads blog

When your Twitter Ads campaign parameters are standard, the platform evens out your spend rate throughout the day. (Image via Unsplash)

A few key benefits of Twitter Ads are that they’re:

  • Precise: the most effective ones are short and to the point
  • Unobtrusive: they blend into the news feed organically without jarring the reader
  • Cost-efficient: they allow you to build your campaign in a budget-friendly manner
  • Tailored: it’s possible to tailor these ads precisely to target different audiences
  • Versatile: you can create an efficient retargeting campaign in just a few clicks

One of the best parts about Twitter Ads is that there’s no minimal campaign spend, so they can be suited to virtually any budget.

Types of Twitter Ads

Twitter determines which audience your content is most suitable for. After that, the ads compete in an auction based on your budget. The more money you’re willing to pay and the more relevant your ads are, the more likely they are to appear in the right place at the right time.

Even though Twitter Ads may be a straightforward paid social media marketing tactic, the platform gives you multiple ad options for promoting your account and content:

  • Tweets: you can pay to get your tweets in the target audience’s timeline, user profiles, and in top search results
  • Accounts: get your account placed in your potential audience’s timeline, in search results, and in “Who to Follow” suggestions
  • Trends: you can have your tweet promoted in trending topics and in the “Trends for you” section, where they’re visible for 24 hours
  • Automated promote mode: paying a flat fee ($99) to automatically promote your first ten tweets of the day to your chosen target audience

The latest Twitter Ads tips

Constructing a versatile Twitter Ads campaign can take time and practice. These are the latest tips to help your ads succeed in 2020.

hawksem: twitter blog

An example of the the Promoted Trend Spotlight in the #Explore tab

1. Explore the Promoted Trend Spotlight

In January of this year, Twitter introduced a new feature called Promoted Trend Spotlight. It complements the Promoted Trend advertising option on the platform.

The feature allows you to place your ad at the very top of the “Explore” tab (for the first two visits per person per day), improving its visibility substantially. The option supports static messages as well as 6-second GIFs and videos.

The downside of this impressive ad solution is its price. While Twitter hasn’t disclosed the actual cost of these ads, but Social Media Today says they’re likely on the same level as Promoted Trends, which can cost from $250,000 per day, according to reports.

2. Take advantage of accelerated delivery

When your Twitter Ads campaign parameters are standard, the platform evens out your spend rate throughout the day. So, if your daily campaign budget is $100, it’ll be distributed more or less evenly within 24 hours (approximately $4 per hour).

To speed up your campaign and achieve faster results, you can turn the standard delivery option off. When you do that, Twitter will start serving impressions and generating engagement as fast as possible until the daily budget is up. This is a perfect option for time-sensitive advertising campaigns that need to achieve high engagement during a certain timeframe.

3. Rethink your Twitter cards

Twitter cards appeared back when the character limit was 140 and companies were desperately wishing for more ad space. Since tweets with images get a 55% increase in leads, these cards are still trending.

When you post a link, Twitter will automatically pull the featured image from the page you’ve linked to and include that image in your visual tweet, also known as your Twitter card. If there’s no established image, the card may be blank.

hawksem blog: twitter ads

An example of an in-feed promoted tweet with a Twitter card.

If you want to make a bigger impression with the cards:

  • Use summary cards with larger images to take advantage of higher-quality pictures (Twitter supports 560×750 pixels)
  • Take advantage of twitter:site and twitter:creator to pack two user names in one card for a more efficient promotional effort.
  • Use up all 200 characters to give value to the card. And the Title tag is a separate piece of text, so don’t double up.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to take advantage of the multi-image card option if it’ll improve your ad. This lets you post up to four images in one tweet which expand when the user clicks on them.

4. Experiment with videos

Video content continues to gain momentum on Twitter and beyond. Take full advantage of this media to make your ads more appealing by creating a Promoted Video campaign. These campaigns allow you to display your video in-feed and improve your engagement.

Here are the details for creating Twitter video ads:

  • Maximum video size: 1GB
  • Tweet copy: 280 characters (each link costs you 23 characters, so when you include one link, you’ll have 257 characters left)
  • Video length: the maximum is 2 minutes and 20 seconds (but the sweet spot seems to be around 15 seconds)

5. Capitalize on retargeting

Retargeting features (also called remarketing) are what help Twitter Ads stand out from other paid social media advertising options. You can retarget your audience on Twitter by setting the campaign to retarget people who have seen your ads or engaged with them, visited your website, or used your app.

One of the highly sophisticated retargeting features offered by Twitter is email retargeting. Email addresses from a company’s CRM are matched with email addresses registered to a Twitter account. (Since email addresses are anonymized, this is not a breach of privacy.) Meanwhile, you can advertise to the target audience without knowing their Twitter IDs.

hawksem: twitter ads article

An example of a promoted accounts under the “Who to Follow” section

6. Experiment, test, rotate

Twitter Ads, like all digital marketing campaigns, require regular A/B testing to perform at their best. With Twitter, you can run a variety of ads, then analyze how well they work for your target audience and the platform after a significant period of time.

Experiment with elements like colors, imagery, and text to see what provides top results. Designing several ads doesn’t just give you an opportunity to optimize your campaign, but it also helps keep the attention of the target audience. Running the same ads over and over again can annoy your potential and existing customers, so it’s a good idea to rotate your most successful pieces.

The takeaway

Twitter Ads can be a successful paid social avenue for a variety of brands and industries. These ad types give you an avenue for reaching your target audience in a seamless, creative manner. 

Plus, with ever-changing social media trends, this is also an opportunity for you to have fun and create eye-catching, witty ads that garner double-takes. By keeping an eye on the latest developments, trends, and offerings, you can continue improving your Twitter campaigns and improving ROI as a result.

Want to learn more about running a successful Twitter Ads campaign? Let us know.

 

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on May 29 , 2020

One billion people reportedly use Instagram every month. There’s a good chance that includes your target audience.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The different types of Instagram ads
  • Best practices to follow
  • Mistakes to avoid
  • Guidelines to follow when creating your ads

There are plenty of reasons to dip your toe into paid social ads. Not only are they one of the more affordable digital ad types out there, but they’re a great way to meet your audience where they already are.

Instagram ads can unleash a waterfall of marketing opportunities. But the success of your paid social media marketing (SMM) campaign depends on how much time you can invest in the process.

You may be surprised at how diverse Instagram ads are. Learning how to make them work for you can power up your marketing campaign within days.

hawksem: instagram ads

In 2020, the average cost per click (CPC) on Instagram is between $0.70 and $1. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Know the key Instagram ad types

Paid Instagram advertising goes well beyond static ads that appear in the user’s feed. To take full advantage of the opportunities, you need to know what’s available:

  • Story ads — ads appearing organically in between a user’s Instagram Story posts
  • Photo ads — the standard ads appearing in the viewer’s feed
  • Video ads — videos that start playing automatically in the user’s feed
  • Carousel ads — ads consisting of several photos or videos for users to swipe through
  • Collection ads — ads allowing the user to buy the product directly from the platform instead of being led to an external website
  • Shopping ads — ads that take users to product description pages within the app
  • Paid partnerships — appear as “paid partnership with (brand name and tag)” in an influencer’s post
  • Explore ads — ads that appear when users click on a photo or video in the “Explore” section
  • IGTV ads — appear inside IGTV videos

2. Set the right budget

In 2020, the average cost per click (CPC) on Instagram is between $0.70 and $1. The cost, however, depends on several factors and may go up to several dollars per click. An auction bidding system determines when your ads are posted in the place you want them most. 

Similar to other ad platforms, you need to set the budget and submit a bid. During the auction, the app figures out which ads are the most valuable and relevant for the users and selects a winning bid. It’s guided by factors such as:

  • The bid size
  • How likely the viewer is to take actions your bid is optimized for
  • The quality and relevance of the ad

The cost of your bid can also depend on:

  • Target audience demographics
  • The time you want the ad posted
  • The type of ad

According to a CMO survey, most companies spend 13% of their marketing budget on SMM. And it’s expected to reach more than 21% in the next five years. Depending on how many social media channels you’re leveraging, you can determine how much you want to spend on Instagram ads.

3. Watch IGTV ads closely

IGTV is a standalone video platform within the Instagram app. It’s meant for posting longer videos (videos on the main feed are limited to one minute). 

IGTV ads are a fairly new addition to Instagram’s paid marketing options. They allow you to place an ad in the middle of an IGTV stream. Similar to Facebook Watch, the video needs to be longer than three minutes to feature an ad.

Even though IGTV isn’t as popular as creators expected it to be (so far, at least), the feature is gaining momentum. For example, many influencers are taking advantage of it to create longer videos that would otherwise be cut off or segmented into multiple Instagram Story posts.

This ad type is in the testing phase right now but could launch at any moment, so it’s worth keeping an eye on. 

4. Always split-test your ads

It’s hard to pinpoint the perfect Instagram ad design from scratch. What may have worked for other SMM channels could fail on this particular platform. That’s why it’s best to test several ad designs simultaneously to see which one gets the most clicks.

You could test and adjust elements like:

  • CTA wording
  • Image placement
  • Video length
  • Colors
  • Text and element positioning

Just remember: Visuals on Instagram are everything. If you fail to create an appealing image, your ad could stay in the dark.

hawksem: instagram advertising

To make sure your ads look appealing, you need to learn the parameters. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Make them realistic

Most Instagram viewers aren’t looking for highly polished and spotless ads. When you “stick” the ad into a user’s feed, you want it to look as organic as possible while they’re scrolling. Consider using real-life situations and backgrounds to promote your products.

The “hero” (buyer persona) in your ad should appear in a situation your target audience can relate to. Don’t worry about going out of your way to shoot an impeccable video. Rather, make your ad look as close to what your buyers see in their daily feed as possible while keeping the overall quality high.

6. Learn the specs

Each Instagram ad type comes with certain size requirements. To make sure your ads look appealing, you need to learn the parameters.

The technical requirements for Instagram ads are:

  • Minimum width – 500 pixels
  • Minimum aspect ratio – 400×500
  • Maximum aspect ratio – 191×100
  • Aspect ratio tolerance – 0.01

If your image or video specs are wrong, the app will crop them according to its needs. This could inadvertently turn your perfectly-designed ad into something confusing, sloppy, and ineffective. Instead, try to maximize the usage of the available space as much as you can and make use of every pixel allowed by the app.

Pro tip: Instagram’s design recommendations include using a .jpg or .png file, uploading the highest resolution image available, and keeping in mind that only two rows of text will display.

7. Take full advantage of UGC

User-generated content (UGC) has been shown to be a highly efficient Instagram marketing tool. In fact, about 90% of consumers say they trust UGC more than traditional advertising.

When your customers take photos and videos of themselves using or recommending your product, this piece of content can turn into a priceless ad with word-of-the-mouth benefits.

You can leverage this content by following your clients on Instagram closely to find these pieces of content. When you see a post that could become good UGC for your brand, ask them for permission to repost this content on your page. You can even inspire consumers to create UGC. This also makes your ad more authentic, since it’s a client testimonial vs. claims being made by your brand.

8. Keep them coming

Instagram is a dynamic environment. People are often turning to the app to see diverse content. If you want to continue grabbing their attention, you need to create new ads as often as possible.

Your target audience on Instagram may get bored with your content faster than it would on other marketing channels. Plus, regularly switching up your ads gives you an excellent split-testing opportunity.

Pro tip: You don’t have to make new ads every day. Rather, you can create a few and regularly switch between them.

9. Analyze, analyze, analyze

A regular analysis is the pillar of your Instagram Ad campaign. Luckily, Facebook (which owns Instagram) has a number of useful tools to help track your ad performance.

As a reminder, the increase or decrease in conversions isn’t always an indication of your campaign’s quality. By keeping track of a variety of metrics, you’ll know which ads deserve an extra budget and which tactics need to be dropped.

The takeaway

To build a successful Instagram Ad campaign, you need to learn all the little nuances and take advantage of the majority of available options. 

As a social media channel, Instagram offers tremendous conversion opportunities. Take advantage of these practices and you could turn a scroll into a sale.

Looking for more social media marketing advice? You’ve come to the right place.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Written by Caroline Cox on May 20 , 2020

Having a social media presence is table stakes for most brands. An audit can help ensure you’re making the most of each platform. 

Here, you’ll find:

  • What a social media audit is
  • How to conduct a social media audit
  • What insights you can glean
  • How often you should audit your social media

Social media is one of the most affordable digital marketing tactics around. Through organic and paid social posts, you can expand your reach, grow awareness about your company, and target your audience in a seamless way.

Plus, if you’re active on social media, chances are that you follow at least one brand. (Recent data shows 66% of people say they like or follow a brand on Facebook alone.)

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put as much thought into social media efforts as you do other aspects of your program, like PPC and content. Zooming out to analyze the performance of your overall social strategy is key to ensuring what you’re doing is set up to succeed. So, how do you gather this info? Through a social media audit.

hawksem: social media audit

Without auditing your organic and paid social media strategies, there’s a chance that you’re putting time and effort into strategies or social media platforms that miss the mark. (Image via Unsplash)

What is a social media audit?

At its core, a social media audit is a bird’s eye view of your current social media strategy as a whole. It’s a time when you take a step back and evaluate your efforts: what’s working, what’s not, and what could be tweaked for greater success.

Without auditing your organic and paid social media program, there’s a chance that you’re putting time and effort into strategies or platforms that miss the mark. An audit can help you identify how well you’re speaking to your audience, the demographics of your audience, and which posts resonate most at which times.

Nine steps to audit your social media

There’s no single right way to conduct a social media audit. After all, different brands will be more active on different platforms, post at different frequencies, and leverage their accounts in different ways. 

By following the nine steps below, however, you’ll have a solid framework you can modify as necessary when conducting your own social media audit.

1. Organize your accounts

As with other digital marketing audits, like content or PPC audits, it starts with getting organized. This means gathering all of your social media assets and putting them in one place, like a Google Sheet. 

Assets can include:

  • Social media handles for each platform you use
  • Passwords for each account
  • The person responsible for managing each account
  • How often you publish on each platform per week

Depending on things like the size of your company or how long you’ve been in your role, there may be social media accounts for your business floating around on the internet that you don’t even know about. Luckily, you can use tools like Namechk or Knowem to track them down.

2. Check for cohesion, completion, and consistency

Now that you’ve got all of your social media account information in one place, it’s time to analyze each account. Are all of the applicable fields filled out on each? Is your logo consistent and current across all platforms? Is your company information, team size, and mission consistent and up to date? 

If you don’t already have a short “About Us” paragraph or mission statement, now’s a great time to create one! You can even create a short and a longer version. For example, you have less room on your Twitter and Instagram profiles “about” sections that you do on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. It should be thorough enough to explain your company but short enough not to exceed each platform’s character limit.

Pro tip: Keeping the same UTM tracking parameters consistent throughout for both paid and organic social media posts will make tracking easier. Google Analytics doesn’t automatically pull in data from social channels, so it’s up to you to set that up.

3. Analyze your performance metrics

Here’s the tricky part — the first tricky part, that is. Gathering the metrics for each platform can give you helpful insight into how your audience is responding to your social media content. You can see which posts resonate most so you can know what to post more of on your respective timelines. 

Depending on how your accounts are set up, it’s likely that you’ll need to go into each individual platform to access that particular data. You can opt for metrics from the last three months, six months, or a year, depending on how long the accounts have been active.

Pro tip: Scheduling and posting your social media content through a management tool like HubSpot or Sprout Social can save you some time when it comes to seeing how many posts you’ve published during a certain time frame, and how many reactions (comments, likes, clicks, and shares) those posts garnered.

4. Deep dive into your audience

One great feature most major social media platforms offer when it comes to analytics is the audience insights. First off, your follower count can tell you which platforms are seeing more success. You should also look at how fast each of your accounts is growing, then drill down further into why that might be. Maybe you’re interacting or posting more on some platforms than others.

Demographic insights can show you things like your followers’ age range, gender breakdown, what regions they reside in, and more. Try to keep an open mind when it comes to this data. You may think you know your target audiences, but user behavior on social media can surprise you.

Pro tip: Make sure you look at engagement metrics to see how your audience is interacting with your brand. Are they sharing your posts a lot? Are they liking your page?

hawksem: paid social audit

Most of these main platforms include an analytics section where you can determine your most popular posts for a given time period. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Examine your publishing strategy

There are a few ways you can determine how often you post on each platform. If you use a scheduling tool, you can go into the tool and count up or download a spreadsheet showing all of your posts for the specified time period then divide by number of days. Alternatively, you can manually count them on each platform, then divide by the number of days.

Once you’ve got your figures, see how they compare. When it comes to the platform you see the most engagement on, are you posting more or less than on others? Some scheduling tools can even tell you the best average times to post each week.

6. Revisit your content

This is the point when you want to dig into your actual posts. Most of these main platforms include an analytics section where you can determine your most popular posts for a given time period. What do you think it is about these posts that resonated? It could be a question that sparked an interesting conversation, a unique piece of data, an exclusive video, or something more.

This is also when you want to make sure the content you’re posting aligns with your brand mission and goals. Is your voice and tone speaking to your audience consistently? Do all of your posts follow the same content guidelines? Once you figure out these answers, you can focus on creating more posts similar to the ones that are seeing the most success.

Pro tip: You should always have an A/B test running in your paid social campaigns, even with something as minor as two different CTA buttons (“Shop Now” vs “Learn More,” for example).

7. See how you stack up against competitors

In almost all areas of business, it’s a mistake to keep your blinders on when it comes to your competition. Working in a silo just makes it easier for your competitors to leapfrog over you — so don’t give them the opportunity.

Check out what your competition is doing in terms of social:

  • what platforms they’re on
  • how often they post
  • what kind of posts they publish
  • what multimedia they use, if any

See what aspects of their tactics you could potentially start leveraging. Are they asking more questions? Do they use more GIFs or graphics? Are they posting during a time you generally aren’t? You don’t want to simply mimic other brands in your space, but there’s value in knowing how they’re using these platforms.

Pro tip: There are tons of settings you want to be aware of, especially when it comes to targeting, during a paid social campaign setup. Facebook makes it easier now to spend your money efficiently with Automated Placements and Dynamic Ad formats, but pay attention to who you’re showing your ads to as well. 

8. Make a plan for next steps

Once your social media audit is complete, it’s time to take stock of your findings. Schedule a time to chat with your team to discuss the audit results. You can highlight key takeaways, then create action items to implement from there.

This is also when you can discuss any new tactics or platforms you all may want to try. If others in your field are hopping on the TikTok train, for example, it could be worth trying out (or at least snagging your company name as a profile handle in the event that the platform gains traction with your audience). 

Pro tip: Once you’ve audited your paid social program, you can start making cuts for efficiency. It’s easy to spend a lot and have nothing to show for it. Learn from that, then start building back up from the areas that did perform well — and make sure you’re adding in those tests.

9. Create a schedule for regular social media audits

Much like campaign creation, metrics analysis, and strategizing, a social media audit isn’t a one-and-done process. Rather, it’s something you want to carve out time to do on a regular basis. The frequency will depend on factors like your team, goals, and company size. Conducting quarterly audits for your paid social is often a good place to start, if you have the bandwidth.

We get it: Audits are time-consuming. It’s easy to let these tasks fall to the bottom of your to-do list. But creating a recurring calendar reminder and blocking off some time on your team’s calendar each month to review results will help everyone stay on the same page. It can also foster more transparency around social media efforts and results. 

hawksem: social media audit

(Image via Unsplash)

The takeaway

It’s nearly impossible for every one of your followers to see every post you publish on social media. Add that to the millions of people and companies on these platforms, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

By conducting a social media audit, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what posts are resonating with your audience, which platforms are bringing you the most success, and what adjustments you can make to ensure your posts, pictures, and tweets are top notch.

Need help taking your paid social campaigns to the next level? Let’s talk.

 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Apr 21 , 2020

From tweets to TikTok, here’s how to pick the right paid social platform for your business.

Here, you’ll find:

  • A breakdown of the main paid social platforms
  • Pro tips for paid social success
  • How these platforms compare to one another
  • Which industries see the most success on certain platforms

The aim of social media is to help us connect with people — and the world — around us. That could mean following an influencer whose style you envy, a travel writer who’s always (except in the times of coronavirus) traipsing across the globe, or a YouTuber with killer recipes. 

So, when your company is looking into ads on a paid social platform, it’s helpful to keep in mind why people are on them in the first place. It’s all part of understanding your target audience, their goals, and how you can meet them where they already are. 

HawkSEM: Determine Which Paid Social Platform is Right for You

When it comes to members, you just can’t beat Facebook — the platform boasts 2.5 billion monthly users worldwide. (Image via Unsplash)

Once you explore your audience and assess your resources (images, videos, ambassadors, et cetera), it can be a challenge to know where to begin. But don’t fear! Let’s break down all the main paid social platforms and how you can make them work for your business.

LinkedIn

If other platforms are like happy hour, LinkedIn is the networking event. Sure, you can be quippy and share fun thoughts or links, but at the end of the day, it’s all about professionals. By its own estimations, LinkedIn has a whopping 625 million members in 200 countries and regions across the globe. 

According to Sprout Social, 65% of B2B companies have used LinkedIn paid ads to acquire new customers, and the platform is reportedly 277% more effective than Facebook in generating leads. 

Because of its business-centric purpose, LinkedIn can be a great paid social platform for ads relating to a software, services, and anything else that could be used in a professional setting or to improve workday processes.

Other industries that tend to do well with LinkedIn paid social ads include:

  • High-end retail
  • Wine and spirits
  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Professional businesses (such as performing arts, banking, pharma, and international affairs)

While LinkedIn has a lot of opportunity, LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager has a few minimum requirements that can be costly for small businesses to leverage. They also have limited targeting, as well as more expensive CPC and conversions, compared to other platforms. 

Pro tip: Since users view LinkedIn as a professional place, it’s a good idea to have your ads follow suit — and don’t forget to maintain the correct ad specs!

Facebook

When it comes to members, you just can’t beat Facebook. That’s because the social media platform boasts 2.5 billion monthly users worldwide.

But while that number is impressive, it’s worth noting that younger generations aren’t as active as older ones, and visibility for both organic and paid posts can be hard to come by. (For example, a Facebook page with more than 1 million likes only averages an organic engagement rate of less than 2.5%.)

Regardless of the drawbacks, marketers love Facebook because it’s affordable and generally results in high engagement. When it comes to paid social ads on Facebook, retail really shines. Think: items like clothes, accessories, beauty products, and the like. The visual format ad options make it easy to showcase your products and grab people’s attention.

Industries that tend to find success with Facebook (in terms of engagement and sharing) include:

  • Automotive
  • E-commerce 
  • Travel
  • Non-profit organizations

Industries like software may do as well as the above when it comes to Facebook ads. If the audience isn’t right and the industry isn’t a fit, ads can really flop.

Pro tip: Facebook’s Power Editor lets you target by location, demographic, interests, and life events. You can also target connections, like friends of those who like your page, according to Bitly.

HawkSEM: Determine Which Paid Social Platform is Right for You

Because of the visual nature of Instagram ads, any photos, videos, or graphics used should be high-quality and high-resolution. (Image via Unsplash)

Instagram

Instagram is owned by Facebook. Because of this, there are plenty of similarities between the two platforms in terms of ad offerings. Additionally, the industries that tend to do well on Facebook also perform rather well on Instagram.

While the platforms fall under the same umbrella, they’re also different in many ways. While Instagram trails a bit behind Facebook in terms of members, its visibility and cultural relevance is significant.

After all, Instagram is basically the reason why “influencers” exist in the way they do today. And studies show ad recall from sponsored ads on Instagram is 2.9 times higher than Nielsen’s norms for online advertising.

Instagram ads also see decent engagement rates compared to other platforms. This is likely due to the visual nature of the app, and how seamlessly ads show up in Instagram Stories (temporary posts users create) and regular feeds. It could also be because the majority of Instagram users are part of younger, tech-savvy generations. 

You can manage your Instagram ads inside Facebook’s Ads Manager. This allows you to create Facebook and Instagram ads simultaneously, complete with a robust variety of targeting options to leverage.

Because of the visual nature of Instagram ads, any photos, videos, or graphics used should be high-quality and high-resolution (nothing fuzzy or grainy). And while the maximum caption length is 2,200 characters, experts say 125 characters is ideal.

Pro tip: For e-commerce brands, Instagram’s shopping capabilities allow you to add multiple hyperlinks to an ad, making conversion a breeze. (People can even purchase items without having to leave the app.)

Twitter

Twitter has around 186 million daily active users, according to Hootsuite. That’s a lot of potential for advertisers. Twitter itself also reports that people spend 26% more time viewing ads on Twitter than on other leading platforms.

Similar to Instagram, Twitter ads fit subtly into members’ existing feeds and are relatively cost-effective. This platform is all about getting visibility, engagement, and spreading the word to grow awareness about your brand. Conversions can be a bit trickier here, though you can try generating quick leads with Twitter Cards or Promoted Tweets.

The platform describes promoted tweets as “a 24-hour high-impact takeover of the Trends list on Twitter,” ideally to launch something new or weigh in on a trend. 

According to Social Media Today, industries that perform best on Twitter include:

  • Music
  • Entertainment
  • Games
  • Aerospace
  • Retail & e-commerce

Pro tip: Twitter users can “like,” respond to, and share your paid ad tweets in the same way they interact with organic ones, thus boosting your reach without costing you more. This is why it’s crucial to make your ad stand out — so you can go viral for all the right reasons.

HawkSEM: Determine Which Paid Social Platform is Right for You

Along with TrueView ads, YouTube offers non-skippable video ads and bumper ads. (Image via Unsplash)

YouTube

Along with Facebook, YouTube is the only other platform with a reach in the billions. Owned by Google, this platform lets you create video or image ads that play before and interstitially between YouTube videos. Much like Instagram, it’s huge with younger generations: 81% of 18-25 year olds in the U.S. use the platform.

Don’t have a video to promote? No problem. YouTube’s creative partner network connects you with pros who can help you with everything from motion graphics to voiceover, animation, and more. As far as payment, YouTube only charges you when someone chooses to watch at least 30 seconds or clicks on your TrueView ad (which lets viewers choose ads that interest them more). 

Along with TrueView ads, the platform offers non-skippable video ads and bumper ads. Non-skippable ads are ads that appear before a video, and mid-roll ads appear at the midpoint of videos that are at least 10 minutes long. Bumper ads, on the other hand, are 6 seconds max and are paid for on a CPM basis.

Pinterest, TikTok, and other platforms

While the platforms above are arguably the most popular paid social platforms, there are other players in the space that offer their own unique benefits. Apps like Snapchat, TikTok, and Pinterest all have ad options. While their reach may not be as wide as the Big Four, depending on your industry and target audience, they could still be worth your time and budget. 

TikTok is the fastest-growing platform in terms of popularity, particularly with Gen Z. It offers interactive ads in more than 20 global markets. Snapchat lets you target your ads based on users’ interests, behaviors, location, and more.

Pinterest gives you the option to choose to pay for either engagement or visits to your site, and pins often have a longer lifespan than a lot of other paid social ads. 

HawkSEM: Determine Which Paid Social Platform is Right for You

How you measure paid social success will depend on your goals, whether that’s purchases, engagement, followers, or CTR. (Image via Unsplash)

Leveraging multiple platforms

Because each paid social platform is different, with its own unique benefits and users, you may want to experiment with multiple platforms at once. Of course, it’s good to have variety, and testing out a few platforms can help you determine which ones have better ROI for your company. 

Just make sure you go into any testing with a game plan for the KPIs you’ll be monitoring, and how long you want to experiment before revisiting your strategy. 

The takeaway

How you measure paid social success will depend on your goals, whether that’s purchases, engagement, followers, click-through rate (CTR), or something more.

If you’re looking for ad options that are affordable, visual-forward, and have the potential to reach far and wide, paid social is worth checking out. 

Want more insight into paid social success secrets? You’ve come to the right place. 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Mar 19 , 2020

Instead of window displays, we’ve got e-commerce ads.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to determine the best e-commerce ad platforms for your brand
  • Display ads vs. PPC ads for e-commerce
  • What elements make up a successful e-commerce ad
  • Pro tips to give you an edge over competitors

Remember the mall? We barely do too. And let’s be honest: Depending on what you’re in the market for, perusing through physical aisles and racks to make a purchase isn’t the hyper-common process it once was.

These days, the bulk of shopping happens online. In 2019, reports showed that online shopping overtook a major part of retail for the first time ever — and it’s a trend that doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

If you’re an e-commerce brand looking to stay in the game, online ads are a great way to do it. Search, social, and display ads allow you to target your audience, boost your clickthrough rate (CTR), increase sales, and more. For best practices, agency tips, and expert advice when it comes to e-commerce ad platforms, keep reading. 

hawksem: e-commerce ad platforms

Before you go all in on one ad platform, you need a solid understanding of where your audience is already shopping. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Work with cohesive vendors

Working with vendors that can easily integrate with the other programs your company uses will be hugely beneficial, especially as your e-commerce business grows. When you’re launching digital ads, it’ll be a more streamlined process when you’re using hosting options (like Shopify or Nexcess) that integrate well with search engines and social media platforms.

For example, if your e-commerce biz doesn’t use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool or has a custom site, you may have to jump through a few more hoops to make sure everything is synced and reporting properly when it comes to your ads. 

If you’re just starting out on the paid ads route, you can set yourself up for success by integrating with a CRM, keeping your site simple and easy to navigate, and making sure you can easily integrate with search engines and social platforms where you’d potentially want to show your ads.

2. Understand the pros and cons of paid search vs. display ads for e-commerce

Once you’ve decided to invest in digital ads, the next step is deciding which ad type to leverage. E-commerce brands can certainly find success with paid search or pay-per-click (PPC), particularly through dynamic search ads. Simply put by Google, these ad types “are the easiest way to find customers searching on Google for precisely what you offer.”

Dynamic search ads use content and keywords from your e-commerce site to help better target your ads to the right people (all the more reason to have a strong e-commerce SEO strategy). Simply add a thought-out description, and let the search engine take care of the rest, from the headlines to the landing pages. 

Hawksem: E-commerce ad platforms

An example of a paid search e-commerce ad from Herbal Dynamics Beauty

If you want to opt for display ads, e-commerce brands can try their luck with dynamic remarketing (also called retargeting). These ads populate for people who have already visited one of your product pages vs. those who have clicked an ad. These ads are a good money-saving option — you don’t have to have any other forms of advertising for them to work. You can run these on platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon.

Pro tip: How frequently you want your remarketing ad to resurface for each person is up to you. With Google, you can set a frequency cap, but with Facebook, you can’t. Depending on your offering, your ad may need to show up four or 10 times to be successful. Test out a frequency, then access the data to see how well your ads are performing and determine if you need to modify from there.

3. Determine where your audience is already shopping

Before you go all in on e-commerce ad platforms, you’ll want to have a solid understanding of where your audience is already shopping. After all, you want to meet your customer where they already are — the easier you make it for them to purchase your product or service, the higher ROI you’re likely to see.

PPC ads on Google and remarketing ads on Facebook are great places for an e-commerce brand to start. If more of your buyers are on Amazon or even Instagram, then those could be good options as well. Just make sure you’re not competing against yourself. For example, running Amazon ads may cause you to outrank your own Google Shopping items, and you don’t want that. 

hawksem: e-commerce ad platforms

Social ads are a great place to start when you’re working with a limited budget but want a decent-size reach. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Keep in mind what makes up a successful e-commerce ad

When it comes to what e-commerce ads resonate best, feel free to be your own test subject! Search for a common item, like “blue t-shirt,” on Google or Amazon, then check out the results. Which images and ad copy blurbs stand out most to you?

The elements of a successful e-commerce ad will vary by product, industry, and audience, of course. But there are few good rules of thumb that are likely to benefit brands across categories. Clear, high-quality images without cluttered backgrounds are a good place to start. You also want to be sure your products are easy to view on smartphones. Business Insider predicts that mobile shopping (aka m-commerce) will reach $284 billion, or 45% of the total U.S. e-commerce market, this year. 

Hawksem: E-commerce ad platforms

An example of a paid social ad from Intel on Twitter

Social ads are a particularly great option when you’re working with a limited budget but want a decent-size reach. For these e-commerce ad platforms, think about how you can make your ad seamlessly fit in with organic posts on that specific platform. Depending on which site your ad will appear on, consider elements like GIFs or videos, hashtags, platform-relavant verbiage (like “retweet” on Twitter, for example). Just make sure you’re still being authentic and try to your brand — a joke that falls flat is worse than no joke at all!

Pro tip: Got a brick-and-mortar location? Make sure your Google My Business (GMB) page is set up correctly with tags in place and the most up-to-date info. If people can’t easily find your physical space (or if your page looks low-quality because Google auto-populated it), they may opt to go elsewhere instead. 

5. Don’t forget about seller ratings

Especially for highly competitive markets, having seller ratings on your ads can be a game-changer for your CTR. As we’ve mentioned, peer recommendations, research, and product reviews are some of the most influential factors that affect purchasing decisions. If you’ve ever compared an item with 3 out of 5 stars to one with 5 out of 5, then gone with the latter, you know what we mean.

As with any ad, think about what sets you apart from your competitors. Something like free shipping may not be as appealing if most of the brands similar to yours are offering that as well. Don’t be afraid to get creative — is your product the softest, fastest, the first of its kind, or something else? Use that angle in your copy to help the item shine. 

6. Perform tests to see what appeals most to your audience

Predicting is one thing — analyzing the data is, of course, another. Once you begin launching e-commerce ads, keep in mind that continued testing will be one of the most effective ways to understand your target audience and what resonates with them. 

Do they prefer free two-day shipping or a coupon code? Do they click more on white backgrounds or real-life images? Consistent testing and measuring will help you answer these questions.

hawksem: e-commerce ad platforms

With so much shopping taking place online these days, having ads for your e-commerce brand just makes sense. (Image via Unsplash)

Pro tip: Before beginning, determine the goals of your paid ad strategy. Especially if you’re working with an agency, it’s crucial that everyone is aligned on budget, KPIs, and what success looks like. Even if you’re just starting out with e-commerce ads, you can still look at your spend and product costs to determine what numbers would mean a campaign was successful.

The takeaway

With so much shopping taking place online these days — for everything from necessities to luxury goods — having ads for your e-commerce brand just makes sense. It’s a great way to expand your reach, boost your sales, and beat out your competition.

By following best practices — like having goals in mind, determining where your audience likes to shop, and making sure you’re putting your business’s best face forward online — you can leverage e-commerce ad platforms and be on the right path to getting the ROI you seek.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Feb 26 , 2020

The 411 on social media marketing, from LinkedIn to Instagram and everything in between

Here, you’ll find:

Whether you’re a constant Twitter feed refresher or barely remember to check your LinkedIn messages, social media’s influence on current culture can’t be denied. 

As a society more interconnected than ever, these platforms help us keep up with friends and family, stay informed about current events, foster professional connections, and offer glimpses into our real lives — whether filtered or not.

So it’s no surprise that paid social, also known as social media marketing, can be a huge boost for digital marketing programs — if you know how to do it right. For tips, best practices, expert advice, and more, read on.

What is paid social?

When we say “paid social,” we’re talking about sponsored or promoted posts on social media platforms. These posts are a form of advertising that appear in a social media feed, timeline, or on a page. These posts can pop up on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. (We’ll dig deeper into the various platforms below.)

Brands often use paid social to expand their reach and target their audience in a way that’s both hyper-focused and seamless. Since most audience types are already on some form of social media, paid social posts can be a highly effective way to meet your ideal personas where they already are.

HawkSEM: Paid Social 101: What You Need to Know

A paid social ad on Twitter (Image via Twitter)

The main players in paid social

When it comes to paid social, the platforms you choose to advertise on will depend on a few factors: mainly, your product or service, the type of ad, and your audience. While the list isn’t stagnant or set in stone, the main players when it comes to paid social platforms include LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook), Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube (owned by Google).

As with many other parts of creating a digital marketing strategy, knowing your target audience is key. If you don’t already have your personas mapped out, start with creating one to three profiles using resources like market research, your ideal client persona (ICP), and the demographics of your current customers.

For a paid social ad campaign, you also want to know which platform or platforms your audience gravitates towards. Generally, professionals favor LinkedIn. Gen X and Boomers tend to spend more time on Facebook than others. Pinterest is mostly visited by women, while Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter all tend to skew more Millennial.  

There are other platforms, of course, including Snapchat and TikTok. These apps aren’t as popular when it comes to advertising (though they do offer these services), either because they’re newer or because they’re more popular with younger generations who don’t have as much buying power.

Perhaps your audience overlaps multiple generations or other demographics. If so, you can always begin with the more affordable platforms, conduct a few A/B ad tests, see how your audience reacts, and iterate accordingly.

HawkSEM - Paid Social 101: What You Need to Know

A sponsored post above an organic post on HawkSEM’s Twitter feed (Image via Twitter)

How is paid social different from organic social media posts?

One benefit of paid social ads for the brands leveraging them is how well they fit into a user’s existing social feeds. These feeds are mostly populated with what’s called organic posts. These are free posts published by people you follow and brands whose pages you like or subscribe to.  

Basically, organic content is what you post on your business or personal page, whether directly or through a scheduling platform like Hootsuite. This content is seen by your followers and subscribers, though the exact percentage of followers who see this content varies by platform. These posts can also be shared by other individuals and spread further than just your following. 

With sponsored content —aka paid social — you’re paying the advertiser (which is the social media platform in this case) to put your post or ad in front of people beyond your current following. You choose the audience you want and the platform places the ads accordingly, per the parameters you set. 

HawkSEM - Paid Social 101: What You Need to Know

78% say Instagram posts are the most effective content format for influencer marketing — 73% say it’s Instagram Stories. (Image via Unsplash)

Which paid social platforms should my company leverage?

As we mentioned above, the social platform your company opts to advertise on will depend on your audience. It’s good to have an understanding of what people use each platform for (we’ll get into that next). SaaS brands aren’t likely to find much success on Snapchat, for instance.

Once you understand your demo (age, gender, et cetera), check out the breakdown of their profile or subscriber averages per platform. Sprout Social has compiled data that breaks down demographics by platform in a handy infographic. 

After deciding on a platform, you’ve still got to determine which ad type you want to go with. Luckily, platforms like Facebook have ad managers that make it easier to decide which ad is right for you.

Tips for creating a successful paid social campaign

After you’ve determined the social media platform you’ll leverage for your campaign, you can start the work of actually building it. The must-haves for a good social campaign include:

  • Determining your goals: There are a lot of options for the type of campaign you can run. Begin with deciding what you want from these efforts first, whether it’s purchases, profile follows, subscribers, or something else.
  • Keep user intent in mind: What is the user’s purpose on these social channels? For example, Facebook is more for leisure, connection, and entertainment, while LinkedIn is more for networking and professional opportunities. Keep these things in mind when choosing the audience you want to target — and what you want from them. 
  • Content is the key: No surprise here: The content of your paid social ad is the most important factor in its success. Make sure the imagery is high-quality, the copy speaks directly to your target audience, and it links to a consistent landing page with a clear call to action (CTA).

Pro tip: Make sure you know the parameters of the social media platform you’re using. Some platforms are more strict than others when it comes to the quality of your image or video, for example. Different types of ad creatives may require varying specs, text lengths, video length caps, and more. Check out the platform’s website to learn more about each and find the one that best fits your campaign creative.

HawkSEM - Paid Social 101: What You Need to Know

Instagram’s ad targeting options (Image via Instagram)

What are some stats on social media marketing?

  • 89% of marketers use Facebook in their brand marketing efforts.
  • More than 90% of millennials, 77.5% of Gen X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers actively use social media.
  • Twitter ads are 11% more effective than TV ads during live events.
  • Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users — a more than 40% increase from 2017, when it had 700 million.
  • 80% of social media B2B leads are sourced from LinkedIn.
  • YouTube is the preferred form of social media marketing worldwide — 83% of all consumers prefer it.
  • 78% say Instagram posts are the most effective content format for influencer marketing, while 73% say it’s Instagram Stories.

What are the benefits of paid social?

The powerful targeting capability is one of the biggest benefits of leveraging paid social as part of your digital marketing strategy. Not only can you reach people based on their interests, hobbies, past internet usage (cookies), demographics, locations, and more, you can also target those in different stages of the buying cycle.

Another paid social benefit is the robust analytics these platforms offer. Not only can you see who clicks your ad, but you’re also often privy to metrics like impressions, likes, shares, and other related, relevant actions.

Some of the more overlooked benefits, according to Sprout Social, include:

  • Uncovering industry trends in real-time
  • Easy competitive analysis
  • A direct communication line to your customers and prospects
  • Humanizing your brand
  • Access to user generated content (UGC) related to your brand

HubSpot reports that paid social campaigns are great for increasing brand awareness, generating leads, boosting conversions, and fostering relationships with customers as well.

While brand awareness may be seen as easier to achieve but less valuable than these other benefits, it’s the first step to turning a person into a lead. 

Pro tip: While each of these platforms has tracking capabilities for your campaigns, it’s a good idea to be independently tracking performance as well (you can use your host site’s tracking or a program like Google Tag Manager). Not only does this ensure your tracking is accurate, but it offers a true set of revenue and goal data once your program is fully ramped up.

HawkSEM - Paid Social 101: What You Need to Know

There’s no one-size-fits-all trick that’ll apply to ads across all social platforms. There are, however, best practices that do. (Image via Unsplash)

Audience segmentation options

Your options for audience segmentation will vary by platform. Let’s break it down.

LinkedIn – segment by:

  • Job experience & skills
  • Education & degrees
  • Age & gender
  • Company industry & size
  • Interests
  • Location & language
  • Job function, title & seniority

Facebook – segment by:

  • Location
  • Demographics
  • Connections
  • Interests
  • Behavior

YouTube – segment by:

  • In-market audiences (interest or topic based)
  • Affinity audiences (interest or topic based)

Twitter – segment by:

  • Age or gender
  • Username
  • Interest (including TV targeting)
  • Conversation
  • Event
  • Tailored (from your website visitor and/or CRM data)

Instagram – segment by:

  • Location
  • Interests
  • Demographics
  • Behaviors
  • Lookalikes
  • Automated
  • Custom (remarketing)

Pinterest – segment by:

  • Customer list
  • Previous site visitors
  • Previous pin engagements
  • Lookalikes
HawkSEM - Paid Social 101: What You Need to Know

YouTube’s Find My Audience tool gives you a selection of categories to target by interest or industry. (Image via Google)

Know how to succeed on each platform

Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all trick that’ll apply to ads across all social platforms. There are, however, best practices that do. These include:

  • Prioritizing your campaign’s creative components (copy and imagery/graphics)
  • Copy that is clear, easy to understand, and concise
  • A message that’s appropriate for the audience you’re targeting
  • The platform that’s appropriate for the audience you’re targeting
  • A clear CTA

On the back end, you also want to double-check that the destination link (the URL the ad links to) is correct and working. You also want to set up good tracking to ensure you’ve got accurate analytics from the beginning — most platforms have an in-house pixel you can place on the ad.

Pro tip: It can be tempting to hop on the bandwagon of every emerging social media app. And while it’s good to go ahead and snag your company’s name as a username on the platform just in case, it’s often better to allocate your budget to more established platforms. Keep an eye on what’s trending by subscribing to social media-focused newsletters, so you can stay in the loop when it comes to what might be worth your advertising dollars down the line.

HawkSEM - Paid Social 101: What You Need to Know

LinkedIn’s ads let you target different funnel stages as well as demographics. (Image via LinkedIn)

Testing paid social ads

Just like you (hopefully) would with any other digital marketing campaign, testing and iterating should be baked into your process. Consider testing out varieties of copy, visuals, and mediums, such as an image vs. a short video.

It’s worth noting that some industries may naturally perform better than others, and some platforms are harder than others to achieve success. But there are things you can do to set yourself up for maximum return on ad spend (ROAS). 

Let’s talk about visuals. In this day and age, a fuzzy, low-quality video or image just won’t cut it. You don’t have to blow through your budget on visuals, but you may have to get creative. Sometimes a stock photo — possibly overlaid in your brand’s colors — can be the perfect complement to get your point across. 

And, again, it’s about knowing the intent of each platform. LinkedIn may not be the place for a goofy video, and trying to get template or whitepaper downloads on Instagram might be a bust.

Lastly, if your business has a creative team in charge of ad design, make sure they have the proper specs for the platform. If you’re running a video ad, you should know how long it can be before it cuts off.

This also will vary: currently, LinkedIn cut off after a certain time, while Facebook doesn’t, and you can’t use IGTV (a popular choice for longer videos) for ads. Your quality score may be based off of the media you upload, so it should be high-quality.

Budgeting and goal-setting for paid social ads

Remember what we said before about determining your goals? You should have goals figured out before you create your campaign because having the goals you want — whether that’s a certain number of purchases per month, a certain ROAS percentage, or something else — makes the process go much smoother. 

Some platforms, such as Facebook, optimize your campaign to your goal. Awareness campaigns, for example, are more broad and thus harder to track, so knowing that from the beginning helps you create realistic goals.

The bigger the platform and audience, the more homed in on your goal you’ll want to be. You don’t need to worry about being as targeted on a comparatively smaller platform like LinkedIn as you do on a larger, more globally used platform like Facebook.

When it comes to goal setting (also called the campaign’s objective), start small. We don’t suggest running a giant $2,000 a day campaign straight out of the gate. You can also experiment with targeting different locations instead of trying to blanket the entire country — your budget will go much further this way.

HawkSEM - Paid Social 101: What You Need to Know

Facebook’s ad objective breakdown for the Consideration stage. (Image via Facebook)

Depending on your product or service, the platform may be able to guide you towards the ad type that’s best for your goal. Try out their recommendation, then you can better optimize from there as the data comes in.

When you’re building your campaign, most platforms have an “audience reached” metric on the back end that will tell you the approximate audience size for your chosen parameters, as well as what you can reach with your chosen budget.

The takeaway

With the popularity of social media growing exponentially by the year, it’s definitely worth exploring as part of any robust digital marketing program. Those who find success with paid social do so by having a solid strategy laid out and an idea of the right platforms for their brand before they start building.

By recognizing that content is key, remembering each platform has different requirements, understanding your audience, targeting properly, and budgeting appropriately, you’ll find that social platforms can be a fun and creative way to connect with and grow your audience.

Ready to take your paid social campaigns to the next level in 2020? Check out our list of tactical tips and tricks you can put into action today. 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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