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Will Social Media Advertising Pay-Off for Your Business?

Posted by Jackie LaVana at the BBB on 1 December 2016 | 0 Comments

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Like this article? It has been re-posted from the Better Business Bureau's Blog.

When it comes to looking for small business recommendations, people look to those they trust. Seeking the advice of friends and colleagues for a new service provider is common practice for all of us. Thanks to the wonders of social media, consumers can now “crowd source” those close (and even those not so close!) to them. Looking for a contractor for their new home addition? They may post on the local town bulletin board on Facebook or check out customer reviews on a business at bbb.org. Seeking an opinion on a new hairdresser to test out? A customer may be motivated by multiple friends “liking” the same salon. While these exchanges may happen organically (and are somewhat out of your control beyond continuing to provide great service that is worthy of a referral!), there are ways your small business can enhance its online presence on social media through paid advertising.

socialwordsSo, why paid online advertising, especially in social media? Everyone is there! On Facebook alone, more than one billion people are active and 100 million people use Instagram at least once per month . Also, it can be a very cost effective way to advertise. Instead of designing print ads or direct mailers that people may throw away immediately, online advertising allows you to pay only for those who are clicking on your ad and can be less than $1 per click. There is no minimum spend requirements which allows you to test with a budget you feel comfortable with. Lastly, you can easily measure performance by seeing how people engage with your ad (clicking on it, liking your page, etc) and even how they interact once they reach your website.

When planning on investing your money in online advertising, you first need to define what your goals are. Do you want to reach new customers? Or do you want to re-engage your regulars with a new offer? Did you just get an award or positive press that you would like to amplify to a wider audience who may not have heard yet? Are there new standards in your industry that you feel would be beneficial for your potential customers to know? These questions can help you define WHO you should target as well as WHAT message you should use.

Targeting

When you consider your target audience (those who currently use or may use your service in the future), decide if you want to target those who are already familiar with you or if you want to target a new customer base.

In Facebook, you have the ability to exclude your current fans. Many businesses will go this route since it allows them to focus on new folks coming in the door. If you have a customer loyalty program or your business lends itself to repeat/consistent business, targeting your current fan base can be important as well.

If you decide to target users who are not your current fans, Facebook and other social media channels offer a range of targeting options that allow you to define your audience. Do you want to reach customers in a very specific location? Choose the applicable city or town. Does your product tend to be purchased by a specific type of person such as parents, tech savvy individuals or a certain age group? You can narrow this down as well. Make the most of your marketing dollars by really defining your customer base instead of targeting too broadly and reaching users who are less interested.

Messaging

Messaging matters. Images catch people’s attention on social media. Take the time to take quality pictures that really showcase your business. When determining your message, think about what your goals are. Do you want existing customers to refer you to new customers? Have a “refer a friend” offer. Do you want new customers to read positive reviews about you? Quote a review from a satisfied customer.

Along with crafting your message to the target audience you’ve selected, consider rotating messaging regularly to test. For example, if you have tested a special offer, perhaps also test a review or a link to a blog post about the latest happenings in your industry. Depending on your line of business, a consumer may not be in the immediate place to buy (say for example, a new roof), but if you provide them valuable information on considerations for a new roof, you may be top of mind in the future.Paid Social

Ad Formats

All social media platforms have different ad formats you can test out. Facebook has a “carousel” feature that allows you to show multiple images and messages which you can test against using a single image approach. You can also try ads showing in the newsfeed (these tend to perform best) vs. the right hand sidebar.

Twitter and Facebook both offer “lead generation” formats which allow you to collect the contact information of potential customers directly in the ad. This can be a great way to build a list of customers/potential customers, if you also do email marketing. This strategy would include gathering customer contact info via a paid social media campaign and using the email addresses to reach out via your business’ newsletter or an introductory offer for new clients.

Measuring Success

When starting any new marketing initiative, always consider your goals and how you will measure the success of the program you are running. For example, if you are testing an offer message; is there a certain number of customers you’d like to see engage with it? And how much do you want to pay for each of those customers? While all social media platforms do offer tracking that you can code on your website, some of your results may be more verbal interactions (“how did you hear about us?” or verbally providing the offer code at your business). Can you or your customer service team track the source of these customers?

While Facebook or Instagram likes and Twitter followers are not the be all end all, they do suggest to other users that there’s a an existing group of people who support your business. You may not want to use this as a key success metric, but building your follower base can help you reach them with messaging in the future.

Contemplating testing social media advertising? Give it a try! Consider the platform that works best for you as well as your target audience, your messaging, the right ad format and of course, how you’ll measure the success of your program.

Like this article? It has been re-posted from the Better Business Bureau's Blog.

jackiepicJackie LaVana
About Jackie LaVana
Jackie Lavana is a Boston-based digital marketing consultant working with KDM Digital Marketing. With more than 12 years experience at Google, iProspect, and Constant Contact, she is a data-driven marketer focused on target market acquisition and lead generation. 

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