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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.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
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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Facebook
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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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Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
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.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Jan 21 , 2020

Do you feel like no one gets you the way your targeted Instagram ads do? You’re not alone.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The benefits of leveraging paid social
  • How to determine which platform is right for your brand
  • Missteps to avoid when creating paid social campaigns
  • Ways to make your paid social content stand out

When it comes to digital marketing, few areas are as adaptable and ever-changing as paid social. Particularly for younger audiences, this avenue can bring brands big success by seamlessly fitting into the feeds people are already scrolling day in and day out. 

Whether your audience prefers the professionalism of LinkedIn or the colorful features on Instagram, you can take your paid social campaigns to the next level in 2020 with these tactical tips and tricks. 

HawkSEM: 7 Tips for Successful Paid Social in 2020

Make sure you’ve got your tracking pixels properly set up and firing, and the right codes embedded in the right places. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Ensure you’re tracking everything properly

Setting up proper tracking is one of the most important steps you can take when creating paid social campaigns (or any marketing campaigns, really). Having proper tracking in place from the beginning ensures that you’ll have all the metrics at your disposal to analyze, report on, and use to improve your current strategies.

For starters, you want to make sure you’ve got your tracking pixels properly set up and firing, and the right codes embedded in the right places. From there, make sure to test your tracking so you know all is operating as it should. 

When you’re setting up tracking, you also want to determine the most valuable metrics for each campaign. Decide which data will be most valuable for your goals, whether that’s lead gen, brand awareness, conversions, or something else.

2. Have a plan for consistent testing

Sure, you know testing is a key part of creating the most effective campaigns. But having a plan in place for how often you’ll perform testing can keep this task from falling to the bottom of that ever-growing to-do list.

You never want to be satisfied with your current results — they could always be better! You may be able to find new copy, new imagery, or even a slightly different price point that could improve your campaign performance and get you a higher ROI.

Add a recurring note in your calendar or project management app to revisit your paid social metrics and see where you can make tweaks or improvements.

Pro tip: It can be tempting to simply eliminate a failed paid social idea. But before you start over from scratch, see if there’s a way to tweak the campaign or ad first, like swapping out the image or call to action (CTA). A small fix may be the key to turning a mediocre campaign into a successful one.

3. Don’t let personal bias get in your way

I know what you’re thinking: biased? Me? Never! But hear me out. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being so familiar with your product or service that you don’t take into account that those seeing your paid social campaign might not be. When you use too much jargon or assume users have a certain level of knowledge, you risk alienating them.

Alternatively, your target audience can surprise you. You may think a certain offering or product will appeal most to them, but that may not actually be the case. While you’re testing and iterating, keep an open mind. Let data drive your decision-making, not your personal opinion.

HawkSEM: 7 Tips for Successful Paid Social in 2020

For the best results, you want to use the platform where the majority of your customers are. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Consider your target audience when choosing platforms

Ads can appear on multiple platforms, from Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook to Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and even TikTok. (Feel old yet?) When you’re determining which platform would work best for your paid social ad, consider your audience.

Some people default to opting for the platform they’re most familiar with. For the best results, however, you want to go to where the majority of your customers are. You can find this info through your own research, discussions with customers, and market surveys. And if you find the platform you chose isn’t working? Test out a new one and see how it stacks up.

5. Set a high bar for your content

Millions of pieces of content are posted online every day. WordPress users alone produce more than 70 million new blog posts each month. With so much out there, what you publish needs to be interesting, engaging, and eye-catching to compete.

With younger generations sporting short attention spans for ads, it’s more important than ever to create paid social posts that:

  • are targeted
  • quickly grab the viewer’s attention
  • provide entertainment value
  • are memorable in some way

Pay attention to the ads that catch your eye on social — what messages do they include? What’s the CTA? What visual elements do they have? This insight can help inform how you approach your own paid social.

6. Prioritize CTAs

Back to testing — one area that can make or break a paid social campaign is your CTA. Many businesses will focus too much on the ad and not enough on what action they want the viewer to take next. When you’re creating paid social campaigns, spend time making sure your CTA is strong and drives the viewer to make the decision you want. 

Speaking of your viewers, don’t be afraid to mix up who you’re targeting. You may think the ideal audience for a new cookbook is middle-aged women, but you could be missing out on a whole segment of young college students who want to learn to cook as well. It’s all about being open-minded and testing to see what works best.

HawkSEM: 7 Tips for Successful Paid Social in 2020

While it may seem like a pain to hop on board the latest buzzy ad platform or new format, it can end up giving you an edge over your competition. (Image via Unsplash)

7. Embrace new layouts and features

The nature of social media is that these platforms usually don’t stay stagnant for too long. With growing competition and a handful of big platforms vying for the most eyeballs, there’s a near-constant stream of updates and changes.

But while it may seem like a pain to hop on board the latest buzzy ad platform or new format, it can end up giving you an edge over your competition. 

Often, when beta versions of these social platforms are released, a site-wide change isn’t far behind. By trying out a new feature or interface when it’s first available to test, you can set yourself up to be a pro at the new way of doing things — potentially before other brands who are competing against you.

Better yet, these new tools could give you an extra boost, like refining your target audience or improving your return on ad spend (ROAS). 

The takeaway

Paid social campaigns certainly have a place in your digital marketing program in 2020. Not only do social platforms have sophisticated audience segmentation options, but they allow you to meet your prospects where they are in a way that’s targeted, yet feels organic.

By following steps like consistently testing, tracking properly, and creating engaging content, you can be sure your paid social plans are set up for success this year and beyond.

Want more ways to amp up your paid social in 2020? 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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