You’ve got a social media strategy for your business. Your accounts are set up and you post good quality content in line with your social media plan.
But your efforts aren’t producing the results you expected. Your posts aren’t reaching as many people as you’d like and the free-flowing lead generation is more of a trickle. As a result, the time that’s been sunk into your social media hasn’t generated a return on investment.
As they say, nothing in life comes for free. And social media is no exception. Facebook itself even admits organic reach is dipping in comparison to paid content, which means it’s time to put your money where your mouth is if you want to see more significant returns.
In this, the second part of our guide to Social Media Planning, we explain how to boost post reach and create a lead-generation strategy to produce revenue from your social media efforts.
First, we’ll explore how to grow your reach organically before exploring lead generation and how to create, budget, promote and assess the effectiveness of your ads.
There’s More to Life Than Money…
…except this is business and the bottom line is, well, making money.
That said, a quality social media plan isn’t just about selling.
You need a balance of content to appeal to people at different stages of the sales funnel. Too much sales-focussed content will put off those who are still trying to figure out a solution to their problem. Not enough and you risk losing those who are ready to buy.
Building an audience is key to getting your brand noticed, known and trusted to the point that people will buy from you.
And there are two ways of doing this: organically and paid.
Organic reach is a term used to describe the number of people you have connected with via posts you issue yourself - without any paid promotion.
Quality content can get others on social media to link to, retweet or quote what you’ve communicated. Which expands the reach of your post and gives your business exposure to a whole new audience.
And, if they like what they see and it’s relevant, you’ll gain some new followers.
Why is this important? Because there’s overwhelming evidence that social media referrals lead to more business.
"71% of consumers are likely to purchase an item based on a like or share from friends and family."
Find and follow industry influencers. This can expand your following more quickly by giving you access to a ready-made audience similar to the one you’re targeting. And, if you get a share or retweet from one of these hallowed leaders, you’ll significantly expand the reach of your post.
Understanding which posts have had the greatest impact is key to developing insight into the effectiveness of your content.
Your social media platforms each come armed to the teeth with a range of analytical tools to help you do this. You can do this by individual post in both Twitter and Facebook to keep a live track on content images or video that you post.
If a post is doing particularly well, you can capitalise on its success for free by asking friends, colleagues and others in your network to re-post on their social profiles.
Or boost the post using the blue button to capitalise on an effective post outside of a full-blown advertising campaign.
For a longer-term view of post success, the analytics tool associated with each platform will provide insight. The picture below shows post reach over a date range that can be varied for both organic and paid posts.
Your social media marketing plan should specify time to perform regular health checks. This will give you the opportunity to better understand and build your audience by diving into the data to see what works and what doesn’t.
You can also use the analytics tools to generate further insight into your audience.
Wanted to attract a mainly female audience? If your analysis tells you men prefer your content, it’s time to re-think your video, images and copy.
Here’s an example from Facebook which shows the demographic breakdown of page followers. The same stats are available for post reach and Twitter also provides similar data.
Want More Than Reach?
Understanding how many people have seen you post is fine if brand awareness is one of your goals. But if you want to understand post interaction or engagement, you need to check those stats that tell you how many likes, page clicks, shares and other actions have taken place.
As you better understand your results and adapt your posts and content to improve engagement, you’ll also generate more reach. That’s because when someone interacts with one of your posts it will pop up in some of their followers’ feeds, creating a virtuous circle.
The Question on Everyone’s Lips
How many times do people need to engage with your posts before they’ll buy? That depends. On what you’re selling, price, product complexity, whether people need or want your product or service, the competition, how cautious the individual is; the list goes on.
What social media will do is prepare your prospect to buy. Which makes it easier, quicker and cheaper for your sales team to convert them when they do get in touch.
If patience isn’t your strong suit or you want to turn your social media marketing strategy into a lead-generating machine, bolstering your organic posts with paid is the only way to go.
As with any sales drive, your social media plan needs to be focussed and co-ordinated with specific aims, targets and measures.
And it’s worth getting this right before you invest in lead generation - not only to ensure you get a good return on your investment, but to ensure you stand out amongst the crowd.
A survey from the Social Media Examiner shows:
- 93% of marketers use paid ads on Facebook and 64% are planning to increase their spend
- 16% advertise on LinkedIn with 30% planning an increase
- 15% market on Twitter with 29% planning to increase their budget
It’s no surprise that social media advertising spend is increasing - just look at the impressive ROI being generated.
Social Media Platforms that Produce the Best ROI According to Social Media Marketers Worldwide, March 2016
% of respondents
But where should you start?
Advertising on the Major Platforms
There are as many ways of getting in front of your audience as there are social platforms. With a wide range of options from a single promoted Facebook post or Tweet to a full campaign with budgets attached.
This is where a social media marketing company really comes into its own. They know the ins and outs of social media advertising and will ensure you get bang for your buck without overspending.
Choose the Optimal Mix
If you only have one social media platform set up for your business then you only need to consider running a campaign using that platform.
However, if you have multiple accounts on different platforms, you might prefer to set up a campaign that utilises each in such a way as to gain maximum benefit.
This can range from varying the content you provide to using different advert types, to varying the times and frequency of posting. And all this can differ by campaign and audience, making it a logistical challenge to set up and monitor effectively.
Ensuring you have a carefully considered social media marketing plan will ensure you have a structured approach that can be carefully adapted to generate best results.
Set Your Campaign Parameters
When setting up a specific campaign, the first step is to set your objectives. Regardless of the platform you choose to advertise on, your campaign objectives will be the same, although each platform will influence how you go about meeting these outcomes.
Objectives could include:
- Directing people to your website to find out more or buy your product or service
- Getting people to install or engage with your app
- Getting local people to visit your business or promote an event
- Promoting an offer to drive contact or traffic to a landing page or online shop
Facebook offers the most specific range of advertising options targeted at different points of the sales funnel.
Twitter and LinkedIn work in a slightly different way, which will be explained later.
Choose Your Audience
Once you know what you want to achieve you need to target your audience. Doing this is slightly different across the platforms but the general principles and overall aim (to target specific people) are the same.
Each of the platforms provide ways to target people based on:
- Demographics: location, gender, age, country, device, skill set, organisation, job
- Interests and behaviours: these can be selected from a list when starting your campaign or used to create keywords that individuals search for either in the form of phrases or, in Facebook and Twitter, hashtags
- Followers: people who follow similar accounts - or in the case of LinkedIn, belong to an organisation similar to yours - are likely to have an interest in what you’re promoting so targeting them is a no-brainer
The better your insight to your ideal customers, the more precise your targeting can be. If you want to connect with 16-40-year-old vegans with an interest in saving the rain forest, you can.
Create Your Adverts
Here’s where each platform really begins to differ so we’ll look at them individually.
There are multiple options to choose from to promote your message, including photo, video, carousel and slideshow advertising. Or use Canvas to combine static and video imagery.
Alongside your inspirational images, include a 25-character title, 90 characters above the image, and 200 characters below to expand on your message which should focus on the benefits to users.
Always include a call to action button to tell your audience what to do next using action words to compel them to click, like or share.
Content can be promoted in different ways:
- Promoted Posts will show up on news feeds including the word “sponsored” to reach a broad audience. You can select desktop news feed, mobile news feed or the right-hand column
- Boosted Posts will show up on your business page as an organic post, aimed more at engaging with your existing fans
- Facebook Live is relatively new to market and it’s yet to be seen how it will be used to generate leads. Because it offers an instant real-time connection and conversation with your followers it could be used to embed offers within the video. For example, providing sales promotion codes at the end of a product demonstration. Or even giving prospects the opportunity to chat with an existing customer rather than reading a static testimonial. As with video, Facebook is expanding ad breaks in Live videos providing another space for ads to sit.
You’ll need a Facebook business page to buy advertising – if you don’t have one yet and want to know how to set one up, visit our previous social media blog.
Whatever kind of Twitter ad you run, you’ll need to master the art of getting your message across in 140 characters or less. As well as your text:
- always include the appropriate URL, shortened if possible
- limit the number of hashtags to those that are most appropriate as you’ll be paying for every click
- include images or video for greater impact
You don’t have to include an image on Twitter but it helps convey additional information and generate more leads. Tweets with images get 55% more leads than those without and 82% of Twitter users watch video content, with 90% of views taking place on mobiles.
Once your content is ready, you can pay to have individual tweets promoted so they appear in the timeline of a targeted audience. These are either tweets which you’ve posted before and want to share with a wider audience, or one designed specifically as an ad.
Promoted accounts are adverts that ask targeted users to follow your account. Promoted trends allow you to put your story at the top of a trending topic list so people see it first. And you can also advertise a video to get more views or promote an app to generate higher installs.
In comparison to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn ads only allow you attach small images. With 160 characters above the image, a 70-character title and 240 characters of body copy (including your URL), there’s plenty of scope to craft compelling copy.
Video capability has only recently been introduced on this platform and is not yet part of the advertising options. However, video can be included in a post with a call to action to generate leads.
Ideal for highlighting your professional work, LinkedIn video is great for showcasing projects, sharing product demonstrations and updating your connections with company news like a sale or promotion.
You can advertise in different ways, including:
- Sponsored emails
Direct sales email sent to people’s LinkedIn inboxes
- Sponsored Posts
posts within your own page which are boosted to show up in the feeds of your target audience
- Direct sponsored content (see the red box in the image below)
Appears in users’ feeds but not your own timeline
Can be linked to a tracking token so you can see where leads came from
- Dynamic ads (see the blue box below)
Appear in the right column, but incorporate display ad unit formats
- Text adverts
Similar to traditional banner ads with an image and limited text at the side of the screen
Source: Social Media Examiner
LinkedIn has a different feel to Twitter and Facebook and is a way behind when it comes to advertising and video. However, it does offer a strong return on investment as we’ll see in a moment.
Whichever platforms are included in your social media marketing plan, ensure you consider the device your audience is using. 80% of people accessed social networks on mobile devices during 2016, making optimised images and screen auto-fit necessary to engage this audience.
Ad campaigns that rely on text and static images alone are missing a trick. Hubspot’s latest stats reveal that:
- Four times as many people would rather watch a video about a product than read about it
- 43% of people want to see more video content
- 55% of people consume video content thoroughly
- 100m hours of video are watched each day on Facebook alone
Promoting your video on Twitter or Facebook instantly engages with your audience as it automatically begins to play as they scroll through their feeds.
Complete a Dry Run
Another way to make your budget go further is to conduct a test run to take advantage of the instant feedback social media gives you.
Test several ads using sponsored posts on a small audience and gauge the results using the platform’s in-built analytics. This will tell you which content works best without spending too much money. You can then use the more effective advert when you run your campaign on a larger audience, securing more bang for your buck.
We’ve all got up to make a cup of tea when we see the same ad on TV. Make sure your audience doesn’t log off by rotating adverts so users aren’t bored. Social media users are used to seeing fresh, engaging content on a regular basis so you need to ensure your ads are rotated every three to five days.
Without a social media marketing plan in place, you could end up spending more than you mean to. So, it’s critical you set a budget and know how to get the most from it.
In the same way the networks differ in the provision of advert type, they also differ in terms of cost. In general, you will be charged in one of two ways: based on impressions (every time someone sees your ad) or engagement (every time someone interacts with your advert).
Your budget can be carefully set and controlled using either a lifetime or maximum daily budget. You can select a timeframe with the ability to adjust it and your budget as the campaign progresses.
The advanced budget option allows you to choose how to spend your money aligned to engagements or impressions depending on the type of ad you’ve chosen to run.
Costs can vary hugely depending on factors such as country and time of year but the fully controllable budgets and maximum limits will ensure there’s no accidental overspend.
Again, the cost depends on the type of ad, but budget limits can be set on a daily basis and as a maximum budget. Costs range from 0.5 cents to $10 or more per click, video view or follow dependent on the targeting of your ad. Twitter tells you what competitors are bidding for similar ads so you can get an idea of what your budget could buy you.
Promoting a trend has been reported to cost as much as $200,000 a day in the US but only if you set your budget to stretch that far.
Monitoring over the first 48 hours will give you a good steer about your budget’s likely success. Topping up your budget will allow Twitter to show an ad more often, boosting its exposure and the chances of the ad doing its job.
Pay by cost-per-click or by number of impressions generated, again with fixed budgets available.
While advertising on LinkedIn may be more expensive per impression or engagement, HubSpot report that, in comparison to Google AdWords, the same campaign drove higher conversion rates on LinkedIn.
Globally HubSpot customers average a 9% conversion rate from LinkedIn Sponsored Content.
Analyse Your Campaign
Your social media plan should be constantly adapted based on campaign results. Once your campaign is up and running it’s important to see how well it’s working. Don’t leave campaign analytics to the end of the campaign; track your success as it’s running live and make the necessary tweaks to boost performance.
Each platform provides plenty of insightful metrics, including:
- Number of people reached
- Number of ad views and clicks
- Number of engagements including website clicks, social actions etc.
- Cost per click
- Average number of times ad is seen
- Money spent per day
- Money spent overall
A good social media marketing services agency will understand the best ways to tweak and adapt ads to ensure each one is pulling its weight.
60% of small businesses are unable to track their social media ROI which represents a massive opportunity for your organisation. By ensuring you optimise your social media marketing plan, you’ll be well ahead of your competitors.
And don’t forget to take a helicopter view every now again; while analysing individual campaigns is important you also need to understand your marketing efforts as a whole with a strategic review of overall performance.
There are many different ways to advertise on social media. Crafting a well-considered plan is the starting point. Analysing the success of that plan, adapting and evolving is the key to generating reach, leads and revenue.