Hyper-Targeting on Any Budget

Social advertising - some have heard of it, few know what it is, and even fewer know its true potential. So what can social advertising do for you and why should you take the time to read this article? Think of it like AdWords in its inception - a 'wild west' type of opportunity with nobody really using it to it's full potential. Read on if this intrigues you ...

Let's start with defining social advertising: Social advertising is advertising to potential customers based on their given or stated interests. This means you have the age, sex, location, marital status, interests, favorite brands, and more about the people who could be seeing your ads. Some platforms take it one step further and incorporate the social context of the user into the ads themselves. Think of this like online word of mouth advertising. In some cases, people are vouching for your brand or product without any effort at all. How is this possible?

It's accomplished through the social graph. The social graph is a term for a project that scientists are working on to map all the relationships between people across the globe. It was a relatively unknown term until Facebook popularized it in 2007. So what does this mean for marketers and advertisers? Think about those ads you see on Facebook that say one or more of your friends likes a page or a brand. This is Facebook's version of word of mouth advertising online at scale. And it works. Typically, ads with the social context built in convert at double the rate of those without social context.

So is Facebook the only place to run social advertising? Nope. Facebook is the biggest, but LinkedIn Ads and StumbleUpon Paid Discovery are also great platforms with tons of opportunity. The three main platforms break down as follows:

LinkedIn Ads
StumbleUpon Paid Discovery
Facebook Ads

LinkedIn ads is a newer entrant into the social advertising game and has proven to be an extremely powerful paid advertising platform for B-to-B companies. Whereas on Facebook people give information about themselves and what they're interested in, on LinkedIn people give information about their companies and what they do there. So advertisers can hyper-target their ads to specific people in specific positions at specific types of companies. And this is just the start… Essentially, it gives you the opportunity to create extremely compelling ad copy because you know exactly who will be viewing your ads.

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery works a bit differently from the other two platforms. It is unique in the fact that people aren't actually clicking on ads to go to your website. If you've used Stumbleupon in the past you know that when you first start you list the things and websites you're interested in. As you 'stumble' you essentially give even more info about what you like based on what you give thumbs up or thumbs down. The way Stumbleupon Paid Discovery works is they insert 'paid stumbles' into user's normal streams. So instead of clicking on an ad, the user simply arrives at your landing page seamlessly without even knowing it was a paid action. The cost starts at $0.05 per user so while the user may be less engaged than a user clicking on an ad, there is an opportunity to drive a ton of traffic to your content at dirt cheap prices.

As stated above, StumbleUpon is best suited for B-to-C content promotion so if you have an interesting infographic it might do well here. Think about your assets that could be made 'viral.' These are the best pieces of content for StumbleUpon, but remember there has to be an end conversion goal attached to the content in some way to make it worth the money you're spending. Besides getting engagement and conversions from great content, if users who 'stumble upon' your landing page like it and give you thumbs up, you'll actually receive free stumbles outside of the paid stumbles you're buying. This can lead to quite a long time of traffic to your pages if you promote great content.

Finally, we land on Facebook ads. Facebook is the most popular platform of the bunch and rightfully so. It's the most sophisticated platform with the largest reach - over 800,000,000 users and growing. It's also the most versatile - we've run campaigns spending as much as $5,000/day and as little as $2.00. Both equally as effective for the respective business' goals.

For tips and a brief tutorial on setting up Facebook ads, please see our recent Social Advertising webinar and associated PDF slides.

The single most important thing to know about Facebook Advertising is the fact that click-through rate (CTR) is king. How can you achieve a high CTR? We go into detail with tips and tricks in our webinar above, but it essentially comes down to your creative and targeting. This is where thinking outside the box and hyper-targeting really come into play. With your creative you need to draw the users eyes off the person they're stalking and then get them to quickly engage with your ad. So include a compelling image (people's faces work best) to catch their attention, and ask them a question to get them to engage, and finally tell them what to do with a strong call-to-action at the end of the ad.

Designing this high quality creative becomes much easier when you hyper-target your ads to your prototypical customer(s). Facebook gives you the ability to target based on hundreds of options including location (down to the zip code), age, sex, precise interests, family status, marital status, relationship status, work, school, and much more. This helps you show your ads only to people who you think will be interested in them. Why is this important if you're paying CPC and not CPM? Remember, CTR is king. If you show your ads to everybody, only a select few out of the total impressions will click. This kills your CTR! By showing your ads only to people who will likely be interested AND using compelling creative, you're giving your ad the best chance to achieve a high CTR. When Facebook see's your ad getting a high CTR, they reward you with a lower cost per click (CPC). While this seems counter-intuitive at face value for Facebook to do that, it actually helps them in 2 ways: 1) it improves their user's experience and 2) the higher your CTR, the more clicks you'll be willing to pay for, and the more money you'll spend on Facebook ads.

My final tip for all three platforms is to set up some system for conversion tracking. None of the platforms offer integrated conversion tracking, but you can set up your destination URLs using Google's free URL Builder tool. Set up parameters for what you need and make sure to set up goals in your Google Analytics account.

Now go out and see what you can do by hyper-targeting your customers among the nearly 1 billion people using these three social networks.

Chris Root, Consultant, eBoost Consulting

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