Getting started with a paid social media strategy can be daunting and time-consuming.
As a social media advertising agency leader (say that three times fast), we often get clients asking if we can fix their existing campaigns to improve return on investment.
They haven’t taken a step back to focus on an overall strategy.
They jumped into social advertising with an audience they thought was right, a platform they thought was right, and creative that they thought fit both this maybe-audience and maybe-platform.
Gathering data before creating ads is just as important as setting up and perfecting the ads themselves.
There are two primary data sets I recommend gathering to create an overall strategy:
Once you understand the social media landscape and identify your ideal audience, you can create a social ads strategy with realistic goals that complement your SEO and other digital marketing efforts.
Your target audience will not necessarily fall perfectly in line with the number of total social users. Still, some social networks have so many more active users that it may help sway you to include them in your strategy.
For example, if you know your target audience is on TikTok, start there.
Then, when it’s time to expand and test, you may want to consider Facebook because of the sheer number of users (and maybe you’ll learn something about a “new” target audience, after all).
Below is an insightful chart from Search Engine Journal that lists the top 10 social advertising platforms and their monthly active users worldwide:
And here is another helpful chart from Accion Opportunity Fund that breaks down a few of the basics of the top social networks we’re seeing today.
As discussed above, when getting ready to start social advertising, you don’t necessarily just want to choose Facebook, for example, because it has the most users.
On that same note, you don’t just want to assume your audience isn’t on Facebook because you think your target audience is younger.
The good news for advertisers is that each platform provides detailed audience insights that you can use to match your ideal audience without spending much money blindly testing. (More on this later.)
There are three major points, each with subsections, that matter when it comes to a paid strategy.
Audience personas give you an understanding of your ideal audience, including demographics, interests, and behaviors.
This step is always the first step for us, and there are a few different ways we gather this data:
The Audience section within Google Analytics is a great starting point since it has valuable insights that can guide your social advertising strategy.
It will show you who is currently interacting with your website, but more importantly, who is contributing to the conversions/transactions.
This data includes age, gender, location, and more.
For example, if you see that the age group of 18–24 is converting at a higher rate than 45–54, you may want to optimize your campaign for the younger age group.
Go To Where You Think Your Audience Is, And Interact
Believe it or not, some of our clients come to us with an idea for a social advertising campaign, but they aren’t actively engaging with their audience on that social network!
For example, with the rise of TikTok, it can take a while to build a presence.
So we always recommend building up your social media account first and getting out there to see what people are talking about – you may be surprised at what you learn.
Observe where your competitors are active on social media and how they market their products or services.
This is an easy way to ensure you aren’t missing any opportunities and is usually a good starting point when beginning to craft a social advertising strategy.
You can learn more about how to research your competitors here.
Next, it’s essential to realize that while you may have one audience in terms of demographics, that audience can (and should) be further segmented down into where they are in the journey.
We usually segment an audience three times:
While these three segments are general, you can think about your business specifically to come up with more defined segments that you may want to target, often called “audience personas.”
This is a big topic, so you can learn more about creating audience personas here.
Audience segmentation usually coincides with prospecting, retargeting, and remarketing campaigns (more resources on different campaign types later).
In short, there should be different content and messaging for someone who hasn’t heard of the company versus someone who has previously engaged with it.
Once you’ve defined your segments, it’s time to start personalizing content, and the type of content you write depends on the platform.
While this article focuses on the strategy for social advertising, being able to set up your ads successfully isn’t always as cut-and-dry as it should be because there are so many different campaign types.
Pro Tip: When setting up the campaigns, I recommend starting with three campaigns (prospecting, remarketing, and retargeting) to ensure you engage with your audience at the right time along their journey.
Below is an example to help get you started:
For step-by-step instructions for each individual social network, see the resources below:
Ultimately, creating an effective paid social media strategy will take time, and you will consistently be reiterating, revising, and optimizing.
As with anything, a successful business is about testing, but researching before jumping into paid media – and then using paid media as another part of your testing – is crucial for a successful overall strategy that complements your SEO and other digital marketing efforts.
Always define your goals, consider the engagement you want and expect, and then use the steps above to make it happen!