You Don't Need Social Media, Unless You Are Doing It Right

Social Media Advertising for Small Businesses

Let’s get down to the dirty little secret – advertising! In social media, the prevailing ideology has been that it should be free – if your content is good enough then you will attract followers.  This is a topic, that I discuss in my new book and this idea is partially true; it is also partially false. If your content is good enough you will attract followers; unfortunately, it will be at a slow rate. There is always the edge case where viral content spells massive growth instantly (Dollar Shave Club or Laughing Chewbacca Mask Lady) but for most brands, it will be an uphill battle to get even a small amount of followers. All small businesses should have a paid distribution plan for ensuring their social media content reaches the largest number of customers.

In the battle for followers, the most effective weapon is advertising. Let’s break it down:

1.      Do you need advertising?

Determine this by looking at the work we’ve asked you to do in other posts using the Social Works One Page System. Look at those goals and then ask yourself the questions listed below. Determine if your response would be yes or no.

  • Do you hope to see (or need to see) rapid (i.e. 3x or more increase) in followers within the next six months?
  • Do you hope to see (or need to see) rapid (i.e. 3x or more increase) in followers within the next six months?
  • Do you hope to see (or need to see) rapid (i.e. 3x or more increase) in followers within the next six months?

If you checked yes one time or more times, then consider social advertising as a facet of your plan. It drives growth a lot faster than an unpaid, organic strategy which can take years.

2.      What would advertising look like if you were to do it?

Social media advertising can take a number of different forms (side bar ads, boosted posts, in channel posts) and it can serve a number of different purposes. Amongst the different purposes are:

  • Fan Acquisition/Engagement: Help to grow your followers through advertising that targets a specific demographic and asks them to follow or like.
  • Website Traffic/Conversion: Help to drive traffic to your website in the same way that any other type of online ad does.
  • Post Reach/Engagement: Help to boost a particular post by increasing the chances that more people will see it.

Within these three key categories there are a number of more discrete actions you can take. Overall social advertising will help you acquire fans, drive traffic and increase the number of eyeballs on a specific piece of content.

You can run all three types of advertising but if your budget it smaller you may want to only one or two types at a time. If that’s the case, then you need to figure out which one of these will have the biggest result. Choosing this is largely dependent on understanding how these results will affect your business.

How do you figure out what’s right for you? Let’s break the categories down further.

  Fan Acquisition Website Traffic Post Reach
Why Creating a bigger Facebook page can create the illusion (or the reality) that you have a big and successful customer base.
It is also an ongoing community of people who will be receptors of your content – i.e. a captive audience of consumers
Increasing better Google’s understanding of your relevance – which will increase your visibility in page ranks. More traffic means that search engines believe you have more authority and are more relevant. Boosting the reach of a specific post helps to get more eyeballs on your content. This is useful when you are trying to get more people engaged and naturally sharing and consuming your content.
 But why for business? More consumers on your channels means more opportunities to promote your brand, create product evangelists and drive sales. More web authority means higher ranking in search results which means the potential for more eyeballs and more sales. More engagement with your content means that there are more people who consumed what you shared. This means that they will have your brand and your message top of mind when it comes to purchasing.
In short? Best path to long term community growth and hopefully sales. Most immediate path to raising traffic and sales. Best path to product and message retention.
Next steps? Test Facebook ads. Test Google and Pinterest ads. Test Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter ads.

3.      How much advertising can you squeak by with?

You don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands or even thousands of dollars on advertising but, you likely have to spend something when you are starting out and looking to grow your community. The simple truth is that it’s hard to stand out online. New pages rarely get the visibility you’d hope for.

My friend, an author of a fiction novel who recently launched her Facebook channel, spends about $20/week on advertising. So far each new fan has cost her about a dollar. Because her book sells for $20, if she can convert each new fan to a purchaser, she will see a significantly higher ROI for the dollar spent. Even if just one out of twenty fans buys her book, she still has a net positive return immediately and the long term benefit of an active fan pool for future books. She is not paying for fans! She is advertising her channel to Facebook users so that they can find her page and choose whether or not to become her Facebook fan. You will likely want to employ a similar strategy. To do so, go into your Facebook page dashboard, click Ads Manager on the left. The system will then guide you through the process to get started.

Additionally, I’ve worked with a number of brands who use Pinterest as an advertising platform. This is an interesting way to boost your website traffic and engagement. Pinterest can be viewed as more of a search engine than a social network, as I discussed earlier. For many brands it is the number one e-commerce driver. If you have consumer products for sale, this is a must test. Great boosted posts on Pinterest (bright, long vertical images) can see massive increases in traffic and conversion. To do this, log into Pinterest. Then click Ads on the upper left hand task bar. Their system will walk you through what to do.

The beauty of social media advertising is that you can set up the advertising to align with your specific business goals. Therefore, you can target advertising for growth of your social media channels or traffic to your website. So, play around. You can A/B test your content by trying out different types of ads and seeing the results you get. For a full primer on A/B testing methodology refer to the blog post by KISS Metrics on A/B testing or check out A/B Testing The Most Powerful Way to Turn Clicks into Customers by Dan Siroker.

Fill in your advertising goals into the appropriate box in the Social Works One Page System.

4.      How do you create the right type of advertising?

Advertising creation is the whole reason advertising agencies are in business. It’s not easy. First, focus on headlines – a poorly crafted headline will immediately turn away over 90% of users. Not to mention, 5 out of 7 people will only read the headline before sharing a post or other advertising boosted content. Secondly, focus on simple images. These images should say something without text. Find a picture that is sharp, clear and evocative.

For more ideas on advertising, I’d suggest reading deeply about David Ogilvy, the father of modern advertising, or following some of the major social networking tools like Hoostuite for their downloadable PDFs and guides on the topic.

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