The social game is always changing and with the developments in Facebook’s algorithm, the rise of LinkedIn Influencer, and the increasing flood of content spewed out in the Twitterverse, it’s getting harder and harder to get your content in front of your target audience – for free.
I come from an SEO background and have always been one to beat to the drum of “all organic, all the time.” Until now. I’m just getting my feet wet in paid social channels – including promoted accounts, sponsored ads, promoted tweets, and “Like” ads – but from what I can tell so far, there are a few worth trying that will tell you in a very short time (I’m talking one week) if it’s going to do something for you or not.
Give These 3 Social Ads a Shot
1. Facebook Promoted Posts
Just because you post something on Facebook doesn’t mean everyone (or even anyone really) sees it. Over time, the organic reach of company Facebook posts has hit an ultimate low and while this can be frustrating, the alternative of paid ads on Facebook is much less daunting than you think.
By promoting a post, you’ll pay a very small amount to expand the reach of your post 5x or more. Since less than 15% of your fans see your best performing updates, you’re missing out on major opportunities to get in front of people who are a) in your target audience and b) have already proclaimed their love for you. Crazy, right?
Moz has written a lot about the changes in Facebook advertising and here’s an example of how a promoted post transformed the reach of their updated SEO Beginner’s Guide. The beauty if this share is that they already know people love their beginner’s guide, it’s been updated so it’s relevant, there’s a photo, and they’re able to get this in front of so many fans who haven’t been actively engaging with them through their page.
Spend $5 per day and see what happens. Choose a post that’s already gotten some traction and target it just to people who follow you and their followers. If you want to get laser focused on conversions or page likes or traffic to your site, Facebook makes those options really simple. Whatever your goal, you will see results, it will be easy, and your boss will love you for being frugal.
2. Twitter Promoted Tweets
The speed of Twitter works against us and it’s increasingly harder to get the attention of your audience without feeling like a self-serving megaphone. Promoted tweets let you get in front of an even more targeted audience outside your current followers, making it a great paid channel for content with great calls to action.
Always share an image, make it clear why this content is useful, and include a short and edgy call-to-action.
Hubspot does twitter ad targeting really well and shares content that will not only drive traffic but more importantly, conversions. Their best promotions drive traffic to eBook landing pages where they collect emails and potential new leads. For best practices, test out a promoted tweet campaign with something gated – if you don’t have eBooks, simply gate a video, podcast, webinar recording, report, case study, or anything that’s a little more enticing than just a regular blog post.
Choose your top-performing piece of gated content (an eBook, report, webinar, you name it) and pitch to spend $30 on it for the week. Create a few different ad images for the eBook, test out at least 3 different copy variations for each ad image, and run it for a week. For targeting, I’ve found the most success targeting by keyword for content-based ads. For example, if you’re sharing a B2B content marketing eBook, start out targeting the phrases: “B2B content”, “content eBook”, “content marketing eBook”, “B2B content tips” and iterate as you go based on performance.
Bonus Tip: To make promoted tweets work for you, pay attention to their frequent email updates. Twitter will help guide you by offering data on which copy is working best for you, which audiences are engaging most and how much you’re spending per engagement (or follower depending on your goal). Be sure to tweak copy daily, add new usernames to target, remove the duds, and adjust your bids if you’re finding you’re aiming too high or too low. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn about your audience.
3. LinkedIn Sponsored Posts
LinkedIn has quickly become a content marketer’s dream but like with everything else, the more popular a channel becomes the more noise you have to fight through. LinkedIn offers various advertising opportunities and from my experience, the one worth testing is a sponsored post. Unlike the ads that show up on the side rail and hardly get noticed, sponsored updates show up in your feed and yield far more results – the only caveat being you have to pay a pretty penny.
This one is costly, but if you do your targeting right by narrowing in as far as the specific companies, departments and level of experience you want to engage with your content – it could be worth it. You also have the option to choose CPC or CPM – I’ve found CPC is more effective and gives you a little more control of spend.
This ad from Vocus caught my attention in my own feed because it’s something I’m genuinely interested in reading. While it’s not the best ad I’ve ever seen (in fact, I’d argue they should have pushed something gated here), they’re targeting well and that’s more than half the battle.
Get super targeted on LinkedIn and select a piece of content that’s performed really well. Present the ad with an image, a great CTA, choose the CPC option, and be ready to spend at least $50. The best part about these ads is that the sponsored notation is hardly noticeable and gives readers the option to hide.
Marketer’s Note: When embarking on the paid channel journey, I was most excited about LinkedIn. Unfortunately, it’s currently the one channel I’m not sure is worth the time and effort – yet. But, as you know, everyone’s audience is different, everyone’s content is different, and where LinkedIn doesn’t deliver for one person, it can certainly be someone else’s bread and butter.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll dive deeper into each of these paid platforms but I thought I’d reveal my early findings to see how it works for you. I’d love to hear from you if you’re testing out any social ads!