Tag Archives: social media marketing

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Jul 8 , 2021

From the various ad types to costs, the latest tips, and more, here’s the 411 on creating YouTube ads in 2021.

Here, you’ll find:

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

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 81% of adults in the U.S. using the platform — up 8% from 2019 — and more than 2 billion unique monthly viewers, it’s likely where members of your target audience can be found.

Not only that, but YouTube saw the most significant growth of any social media app among American users during the pandemic, according to the Pew Research Center.

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 2021, 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 among organic results and suggestions on the YouTube search page, homepage, and suggestions list with a thumbnail image and a bit of text. YouTube’s TrueView ads only count a view after it’s been watched for at least ten seconds.  
  • 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 ads: 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 ads: These ads appear the same way as their skippable partners, but they don’t allow skipping. The maximum running time for these ads is 15 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 2021

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: These 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 YouTube ads in 2021 is $200 per 1,000 views. It can range from between $0.05 and $0.30 per view, which is about $50 to $300 per 1,000. 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.

Pro tip: As of June 2021, YouTube has started showing ads on non-monetized videos. This means that if you’re not part of the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), YouTube still reserves the right to run ads on your videos, as Search Engine Land reports. 

Now, let’s dive into some tried-and-true tips for successful YouTube advertising in 2021.

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.

Pro tip: As of July 2021, YouTube masthead ads are no longer available for advertisers of prescription drugs, alcohol, gambling, and political content.    

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.

Pro tip: Looking to start a successful YouTube channel for your business? Check out this helpful guide from Shopify.

Optimize 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

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

Use the YouTube Video Builder

In 2020, 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 to create six to 15-second videos 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.

Embrace the person-to-person connection

A recent HubSpot article warned businesses not to forget the human element when it comes to YouTube marketing. Often, we’ve seen brands too focused on themselves and what they’re selling and not enough on helping their audience. 

After all, people don’t engage with brands to help the brands. They engage because of the ways the brand can help them. Always put that value front and center for your audience.

Additionally, it’s important that your message doesn’t feel cold and robotic. If your content feels like an interaction with a digital assistant, people won’t as easily connect or engage with it. 

Remind your audience that there are human beings behind your brand. One great way to do this is by responding to comments and engaging with the people who interact with your content, on YouTube and elsewhere.

The takeaway

YouTube is a highly engaging platform that opens up numerous possibilities for companies across all industries. In fact, 54% of YouTube users visit the platform daily and 36% do so several times per day. 

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. 

This post has been updated and was originally published in July 2020.

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 Caroline Cox on Jun 3 , 2021

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 always finds a city’s best hidden gems, or a vlogger 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. 

smartphone with social media platform apps

When it comes to members, you just can’t beat Facebook — the platform boasts 2.85 billion monthly users worldwide. (Image via Unsplash)

Once you explore your audience and assess your resources (like images, videos, or brand even ambassadors), it can be a challenge to know where to begin. But don’t fear! Let’s dig into 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 756 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 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 2.85 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. However, if the audience isn’t right and the industry isn’t a fit, ads can really flop.

Pro tip: Facebook’s updated Ads Manager lets you duplicate ads and campaigns, edit any settings, view your metrics, customize your graphs, and more.

girl by pool looking at social media

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. Though 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 often much higher than the typical 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, leverage in-app checkout, and complete sales within the app. They also recently added a dedicated “Shop” section to the home screen and launched Instagram Live Shopping. 

Twitter

Twitter has around 192 million daily active users, according to Hootsuite. That’s a lot of potential for advertisers. Not only that, but 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 Trend Takeovers.

The platform describes promoted Trend Takeovers 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.

man looking at youtube on tablet

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

YouTube

Owned by Google, YouTube lets you create video or image ads that play before and interstitially between videos on the platform. Much like Instagram, it’s huge with younger generations: 77% of 15 to 35 year-olds in the U.S. use the platform.

Don’t have a video to promote? No problem. YouTube’s creative directory network connects you with pros who can help you with everything from motion graphics to voiceover, animation, and more. As far as payment for skippable ads, “YouTube charges you whenever a viewer clicks on your CTA, watches for at least 30 seconds, or views your ad all the way through (if it’s shorter than 30 seconds),” according to Mailchimp.

Along with TrueView in-stream ads (which “run on videos served on YouTube or on a collection of sites and apps in the Google Display Network,” as Google explains), 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.

Want more insight into paid social success secrets? You’re in the right place. 

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. As Search Engine Land reports, “for visually-driven businesses, such as wedding gown shops, food blogs, visitors’ bureaus, and clothing and accessories, the visual search engine is a way to get your products and ideas out there to an audience that is likely to click through to your site.”

girl standing and looking at phone

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 has 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, finding the right paid social platform may be just the solution you need.

This article has been updated and was originally published in April 2020.

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 Apr 8 , 2021

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

Here, you’ll find:

  • A breakdown of Instagram ad types
  • Best Instagram ad practices to follow
  • Mistakes to avoid making in these paid social ads
  • Instagram ad guidelines to know

There are plenty of reasons to dip your toe into paid social ads, if you haven’t already. 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 often already are: staring into their phones, of course.

The success of your paid social media marketing (SMM) campaign depends on factors like your ads themselves, your target audience, and how much you can invest in the process. 

Pro tip: Before diving into these #Insta marketing tips, make sure your company’s profile is an Instagram Business Account, not a personal page. A business profile offers insights into your audience, posts, and ads that help set your Instagram marketing efforts up for success. 

hawksem: instagram ads

These days, the average cost per click (CPC) on Instagram is between $0.7 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

These days, the average cost per click (CPC) on Instagram is between $0.70 and $1, according to HubSpot. 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 determines 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 perceived quality and relevance of the ad

The cost of your bid can also depend on:

  • Demographics of your target audience — Especially if you’re targeting multiple demographics, it’s important to understand how each group is likely to engage with your ads, as it will vary. 
  • Timeframe of ad posting — When more users are on the social media platform, it will result in more competition (and higher bids) for ads to be shown to prospective customers. The CPC for ads can also fluctuate at different times of the year as brands readjust advertising strategies or with changing seasons. 
  • Type of ad and ad placements — With the varying types of Instagram ad types, it’s not surprising that your CPC is impacted by the type of placements you choose. 

According to a CMO survey, most companies spend about 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 meant for posting longer videos. (Videos on the main feed are limited to two minutes, and those on Stories are limited to 15 seconds per card.)

While the monetization program for IGTV was released to a select number of video creators in June 2020, it’s expected to be a widely available option in the coming months. 

IGTV ads allow you to place your 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.

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. Cater your ads to the platform

Most Instagram viewers aren’t looking for highly polished, professional-looking ads. When you “stick” the ad into a user’s feed, you want it to look as organic as possible while they’re scrolling. That’s why it’s a good idea to use 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 if you don’t have the budget or bandwidth.

Rather, focus on making your ad look as close to what your buyers see in their daily feed as possible. Just make sure to keep the overall quality high (no pixelated or blurry imagery). 

6. Learn the proper Instagram ad specs

Each Instagram ad type comes with certain size requirements. To make sure your ads look as appealing as possible, you’ve got to learn the parameters.

Technical requirements for Instagram Feed ads

For images: 

  • Minimum width: 500 pixels
  • Minimum aspect ratio: 400 x 500
  • Maximum aspect ratio: 191 x 100
  • Aspect ratio tolerance: 1%

For videos: 

  • Video length:  1 second to 2 minutes
  • Minimum width: 500 pixels
  • Recommended resolution: 1,080 x 1,080 
  • Aspect ratio tolerance: 1% with a recommended ratio of 4:5

For Carousel:

  • Number of Carousel Cards: Minimum of 2 and maximum of 10
  • Maximum file size: video – 4GB, image – 30MB
  • Video length: 1 second to 60 minutes 
  • Aspect ratio tolerance: 1%

For collection: 

  • Instant experience is required 
  • Maximum file size: image – 30MB, video – 4GB
  • Minimum width: 500 pixels
  • Minimum height: 500 pixels
  • Recommended ratios: 1.91:1 to 1:1

Technical requirements for Instagram Stories ads

For images: 

  • Maximum file size: 30MB
  • Minimum width: 500 pixels
  • Aspect ratio tolerance: 1% (with a recommended ratio of 9:16)

For videos:

  • Length of video: 1 second to 2 minutes
  • Minimum width: 500 pixels
  • Recommended resolution: 1,080 x 1,080 
  • Aspect ratio tolerance: 1% (with a recommended ratio of 9:16)

For Carousel:

  • Number of Carousel Cards: 2 to 10
  • Maximum file size: video – 4GB, image – 30MB
  • Default video length: 1 second to 2 minutes 
  • Video length for a fixed number of cards: 1 to 15 seconds
  • Aspect ratio tolerance: 1% (with a recommended ratio of 1:1)

Technical requirements for Instagram Explore ads

When advertising in Instagram Explore, both your image and video ads will follow the same format as the Instagram Feed ads listed above. Instagram Explore ads are an excellent way to introduce your brand, products, or services to new users. 

Explore is a section that shows content across the social media platform related to a person’s interest. Therefore, having your ads show between the organic content in a person’s Explore section gives you the opportunity to connect with your target audience. 

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 automatically display.

7. Take full advantage of user-generated content

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. 

This also makes your ad more authentic, since it’s a client testimonial vs. claims being made by your brand.

8. Keep your Instagram ads fresh

Instagram is a dynamic environment. People are often turning to the app to see diverse content. To continue grabbing their attention, it’s key to create new ads as often as possible.

Your target Instagram audience 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. Take notice of Instagram Reels

Short-form videos have become a popular way users consume content. Instagram introduced Reels to take advantage of this shift, and many people see a clear comparison to the fast-growing video platform TikTok. Whether it’s because of shorter attention spans or making sharing easier, Reels is expected to grow in 2021

Instagram Reels allows the creation of 15- to 30-second multi-clip videos set to music or other audio. It lets brands showcase their personality and products creatively, in a way that’s a happy medium between professional and informal. 

While advertising on Reels is not yet an option, we expect to see it in the future. According to Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, they’re working on the new feature to ensure it’s engaging for consumers and creators before building an ad business into Reels. 

10. 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.

This article has been updated and was originally published in May 2020.

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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[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]
Written by Caroline Cox on Mar 29 , 2021

Ready to grow your audience and humanize your brand? Then it’s time to get social.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to properly build your social media profiles
  • Tips for keeping your social media plan organized
  • Why cross-platform consistency is key
  • Pro tips for optimizing your social presence

Nearly half of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — uses social media, according to Statista. And while these platforms were once mainly for personal profiles, brands have hopped on the bandwagon in a big way.

Though social media may not directly benefit your SEO, reports show the links you share across these platforms increase brand exposure. It’s also one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to reach your target audience.

But these days, merely having a business profile set up on the major social platforms isn’t enough. You’ve got to be mindful about how you present yourself on these apps if you want to stay competitive and maximize your opportunities. 

Below, we’ve highlighted 7 best practices to ensure your business’s social media profiles are set up for success.

1. Keep your display names and images consistent

Having the same username on each of your profiles is one way to optimize your brand’s social media pages by making it easy for people to find you on these platforms. The trick here is to snag these profile display names before someone else does.

Particularly if your company name is also a common word or phrase, someone may already have created an account with your name. If this is the case, you have a few options. 

You can:

  • Reach out to the account holder and see if they’ll give or sell you the account name
  • Add a word or your city to your account name across all profiles (such as @getzifty or @ziftyATL)
  • If the account is inactive or the owner is impersonating your brand, reach out to the platform and see if they’ll release it to you

It’s also a good idea to have your company logo or mascot as your profile image across platforms. This way, people can easily recognize the page as yours.

Pro tip: When uploading cover and profile photos, make sure you know the required specs or sizes so your images won’t be blurry or pixelated. (Image requirements will vary by platform.)

social media business best practices

One product of social media platforms becoming increasingly leveraged by brands rather than just individuals is the added features and tools. (Image via Unsplash)

2. Fill out your profile completely

Each social platform has its own unique profile setup and character limits. The key is to use all the available options at your disposal. This means building out your profile with things like a cover image (a background image that platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn have), a brief bio about your business, and a URL linking back to your site. 

Business profiles often have added features, like the ability to list a category for your Instagram page. Facebook lets you include your business category, phone number, “About” description, when your company was founded, and more. 

Since LinkedIn is the most professional-focused social media platform, its profile features are arguably the most robust. It allows for most of the above, along with a fleshed-out company overview, company size, specialties, and even open job listings. 

Fill out your profiles completely so that those who stumble upon your profiles can get as much context and info about your business as possible.

3. Take advantage of optimization features and tools

One product of social media platforms becoming increasingly leveraged by brands rather than just individuals is the added features and tools. While most of these offerings are available for business and personal profiles alike, they allow you to optimize your profiles and let you work smarter vs. harder. 

For example, Instagram does have a “contact” button feature, but it only allows one active link on your profile. They also don’t allow you to hyperlink within captions or via Instagram Stories, meaning it can be difficult to effectively drive traffic to your site from this platform. Luckily, you still have options.

Consider creating an account with a tool like Linktree. This way, you can put the Linktree URL (creating an account is free) in your profile. Those who click the link will be taken to a mobile-friendly page with a list of links they can choose to click on. Here at HawkSEM, our Linktree often includes links to our latest blog, our homepage, and our industry newsletter signup form. 

If you have at least 10,000 Instagram followers, you also have access to the “Swipe up” Stories feature, which does allow you to link to a web page from a posted Story. (Stories, as a refresher, are temporary posts that show up on your profile for 24 hours unless you save them as a Highlight on your profile page.)

Pro tip: Don’t stretch yourself thin by trying to be super active on all the social media platforms, especially if you’re a one-person team or manage other marketing channels. It’s good to create your profile, but focus more on the platforms that your audience seems to be on the most, or the ones on which you get the most engagement.

4. Keep an eye on analytics

One of the biggest benefits to business social media pages is the analytics these platforms gather. 

Depending on which one you’re viewing analytics for, you can gauge things such as:

  • how your posts are performing in terms of engagement, impressions, and clicks
  • the rate at which you’re acquiring followers
  • how your page’s performance stacks up against previous months or years 
  • which content types are resonating most with your followers

Using a free or paid scheduling tool (like Buffer, HubSpot, and Sprout Social, just to name a few) can offer even more analytics. Different account tiers will have different options, of course, but you may be able to see additional insights like what days and times your audience is most active on a particular platform, which can help you determine the best times to post.

Once you can see the type of content that your audience responds best to, you can plan to create more similar content. Which brings us to…

5. Create a content plan

Even if your job is purely to manage a business’s social media accounts, staying organized is key. That’s where creating a content plan comes in handy. This can be a brief overview or a granular day-by-day schedule, depending on your priorities, goals, and bandwidth. 

At the least, this can help you track when you plan to post on each platform, and what type of content you’ll publish. The frequency is up to you — after all, it’s better to post when you actually have something valuable to say to your audience, rather than simply adding noise to someone’s timeline. 

Pro tip: Posting the exact same content on each of your social media profiles may save time, but this can create a poor experience for those who follow you on multiple platforms. Instead, try to mix up the verbiage or images you use, even if you’re promoting the same thing on multiple apps.

business social media profiiles

Whether you post multiple times a day or a few times a month, having a presence on the main social media platforms can be a great way to boost your business. (Image via Unsplash)

6. Pay attention to competitors

It can be difficult to come up with unique content for multiple channels consistently. For this and other reasons, Hootsuite recommends keeping an eye on what your competitors are posting on social media

You certainly don’t want to just copy their same posts, but you can use their content as inspiration that may help if you’re struggling with what to post. (You can also see what resonates most with their audience through things like comments and likes, as your target personas are likely similar.)

7. Don’t forget to be “social”

Social media shouldn’t be a one-way street. These apps are great places to let your company’s personality shine. One way to do that is by looking for creative ways to interact with and engage your followers. 

You can publish fun polls on Twitter and Instagram Stories for followers to weigh in on. Plus, many of the popular platforms allow you to “go live,” or broadcast a video in real time. This could be great for sharing big company news or having a virtual chat with another industry pro. 

Interacting can be as simple as following back those who follow you, “liking” posts others make about your brand, and responding to comments. Not only will it make your followers feel valued, but it’ll remind them that there are humans behind your business. 

The takeaway

Whether you post multiple times a day or a few times a month, having a presence on the main social media platforms can be a great way to boost your business.

With just a bit of front-end planning when you’re building your social media profiles, you can have a strong foundation that’ll help you build your following and grow your reach with success. 

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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[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]
Written by Caroline Cox on Nov 14 , 2019

From paid search to content and everything in between, these are the can’t-miss marketing conferences happening around the country

Here, you’ll find:

  • 12 innovative marketing conferences to attend in 2020
  • What to expect from each event
  • The types of sessions and speakers at each conference

For those who work in the ever-changing marketing field, it can be hard enough to find time to grab lunch, let alone carve out days away from the office.

But in fact, taking the time to attend an industry conference can be greatly beneficial, both personally and for your company.

Conferences give you the opportunity to learn more about your field, stay up to date on the latest developments, meet like-minded people, and gather inspiration (and ideally a to-do list) you can bring back to your team. 

With all the marketing conferences out there, it can be hard to know which ones are right for you. Don’t worry — we’ve done the work for you. Below, we’ve highlighted 12 worthwhile marketing conferences happening around the country in 2020. 

Image via Unsplash

(Image via Unsplash)

1. Industry Preview

Find out what’s new, next, and on the horizon for 2020 in the world of marketing technology at this AdExchanger conference. Glean valuable insight from high-level leaders from companies like Google, Amazon, Wayfair, Verizon, Facebook, and more. 

Attendees can expect 50 visionary speakers and more than 30 session options in between mingling and networking with hundreds of fellow industry pros. It’s a conference that’ll ensure you start the new year off on the right foot.  

When: Jan. 28-29, 2020

Where: Grand Hyatt New York, NYC, New York

2. Search Marketing Expo

This two-day event is touted as the conference for those obsessed with SEO and SEM. With search marketing as one of the most effective digital marketing tools at our disposal these days, SMX aims to help attendees boost conversions, increase sales, grow awareness, and achieve their goals.

Sessions will cover topics from new nofollow and snippet rules to driving profitable sales with Amazon ads and how link building has evolved. Plus, for the first time, the 2020 event includes a new two-day track specifically geared toward e-commerce marketing.

When: Feb. 19-20, 2020

Where: San Jose McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, California

3. Social Media Marketing World

Get the lowdown on the latest in social media marketing at this results-driven conference. Over the course of three days, expert speakers will cover social strategy, social advertising, content marketing, video marketing, analytics, customer advocacy, and more.

With plenty of sessions, workshops, and after-hours parties to choose from, this is the go-to conference for many social media marketers, digital marketing managers, agency owners, consultants, network marketers, and corporate marketers alike. 

When: March 1-3, 2020

Where: San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, California

4. SearchLove

Looking for insight into SEO trends, mobile search, Google algorithm updates, and PPC for inbound marketers? Distilled’s SearchLove conference has you covered.  

Past speakers have come from the likes of Moz, Microsoft, Unbounce, and HubSpot. You can even get expert feedback on your website at one of SearchLove’s site clinics.

When: March 26-27, 2020

Where: Kona Kai Resort, San Diego, California

5. MarTech

As a marketer, you want to boost ROI — and MarTech wants to help you do just that. This three-day gathering is for all levels of ambitious marketers looking to expand their industry knowledge. 

Get tools and tips on building a digital marketing operation from the ground up, creating true multi-touch attribution, innovating within a budget, and everything in between.

When: April 15-17, 2020

Where: San Jose McEnery Convention Center, San Jose, California

6. Incite Marketing Summit

This two-day conference from Reuters Events encourages attendees to look ahead at the marketing industry’s future to better prepare for what’s to come. Their three pillars of focus are:

  • marketing with purpose
  • data and personalization
  • compelling content

Learn how you can bring all of these concepts together in your own marketing strategy while hearing from accomplished speakers representing brands like Marriott International, CareerBuilder, HP, and Forbes. Psst: Incite is offering readers $100 off the ticket price with the code 5109HAWKSEM100!

When: May 14-15, 2020

Where: San Diego Hilton Spa and Resort, San Diego, California

(Image via Unsplash)

(Image via Unsplash)

7. DigiMarCon Midwest

For those looking to leave a conference with pages (whether actual or digital) of actionable insights, look no further than DigiMarCon. With a program designed to help attendees build and develop their audience, expect to learn about growing traffic, creating brand awareness, leveraging the latest tools, and plenty more.

In addition to sessions led by acclaimed speakers, DigiMarCon offers limited-edition Master Classes. Past classes have gone in-depth on topics like AI & Programmatic Advertising, Brand Storytelling, and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). 

When: June 17-18, 2020

Where: Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois

8. MozCon

Stay ahead of the curve while learning next-level tactics on everything from ranking higher to making better data-driven decisions at this three-day search marketing extravaganza.

Hear from a variety of knowledgeable session leaders while networking with those well-versed in SEO, content marketing, paid search, social media, and agencies.

When: July 6-8, 2020
Where: Seattle, Washington

9. Inbound

HubSpot’s highly anticipated marketing event is part conference, part festival. Each year, the brand brings together a mix of industry leaders from big-name brands and celebrity entrepreneurs to share their knowledge. 

With interactive booths, live entertainment, a buzzy food truck lawn, and hundreds of sessions across multiple venue spaces, expect valuable lessons and takeaways for every type of marketer at Inbound. (See our top takeaways from the 2019 event here.)

When: Aug. 18-21, 2020

Where: Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston, Massachusetts

10. Content Marketing World

Content is a key part of any good digital marketing strategy’s foundation. This four-day conference wants to arm attendees with creative ideas, organizational tools, and effective insights to take any brand’s content marketing to the next level.

Thousands of attendees from more than 500 companies are expected to attend the 2020 event, meaning nearly endless opportunities to learn, connect, and collaborate.

When: Oct. 13-16, 2020

Where: Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio

11. Onward

Big names like Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Seth Meyers, and Seth Godin have graced the stage at this Yext conference geared toward search marketing. The 2020 edition promises to be just as impressive.

This often sold-out conference highlights buzzy topics like AI, technology trends, and evolving industries, all through the lens of search marketing. Learn innovative ways to meet customers where they are, with a side of live entertainment and after-hours fun. 

When: Nov. 16-18, 2020

Where: New York Marriott Marquis, NYC, New York

12. Digital Summit

Digital Summit wants to empower attendees to go from just another fish in the sea to becoming marketing leaders. Their multi-city events offer engaging info sessions on all aspects of marketing: content, search, email, mobile, UX and design, social, and strategy.

The success of the Digital Summit series has caused the event to grow, spanning various dates and cities throughout the year. Look for this can’t-miss conference to pop up in cities including Seattle, Raleigh, Denver, Los Angeles, NYC, Atlanta, Houston, and more. 

When: Various dates

Where: Various venues

(Image via Unsplash)

(Image via Unsplash)

The takeaway

At the end of the day, marketing is about connection. When you attend marketing conferences that let you connect with ideas, strategies, and people who are passionate about the same things as you, amazing things can happen.

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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