Get Social, Get Advertising.
No doubt you’ve heard this several times before; nonetheless, there are two billion people active on Facebook alone each month. That’s not just tweens either, that’s your mum, your gran, your funny aunt Jane, drunk uncle Tony and probably, you too. The average person spends 28 percent of his or her time online and mostly, on social networks — or 1.72 hours per day according to Facebook’s official figures.
One would be willing to take a gamble that a substantial amount of Facebook users spend significantly more time on the platform than the average quoted above. Scrolling, liking and sharing day and night. There is no doubt that Social Media platforms like Facebook, Instagram (which FYI is owned by Facebook), LinkedIn, Snapchat and Twitter have gained an insane amount of users and demand a huge amount of our attention.
Here’s Social Media Advertising 101.
The clever ‘social’ guys and gals in Silicon Valley have developed hugely powerful tools which allow them to generate huge revenues without actually charging their end users for using the platforms. These tools, in effect; ‘buy’ attention. Welcome to the world of ‘Paid Social Media Advertising’.
Facebook ads, Instagram ads, LinkedIn ads, Snap ads etc, work in very similar ways, although, they are extremely different :o/ (and woe betied any advertiser who refuses to acknowledge that fact). The basic premise behind paid social media advertising across the various platforms works roughly in the same way and is as follows…
‘Users’ being your gran and drunk uncle Tony spend several hours each day consuming, that is, scrolling, and interacting with ‘Content’ images/texts and actually for the most part just watching video. The various social media platforms almost always have some form of endless scrollable ‘NewsFeed’. This is where ‘users’ consume content. Some platforms like Snapchat and Instagram (and now Facebook) also have ‘Stories’ but more on that later.
Back to NewsFeeds. The ‘content’ that ‘users’ see on their ‘NewsFeeds’ is largely determined by an algorithm. An algorithm is ‘a set of rules to be followed in calculations’. We don’t need to go too in-depth on algorithms right now and frankly, they’re far too complicated for us mere mortals. Anyway, this algorithm shows users a selection of the best content posted by different pages and shared by different friends of the ‘user’. No two users will have the exact same ‘Newsfeed’. The content shown to users is highly personalised based on how they interact with the content they have previously seen on their Newsfeed.
Advertisers can create adverts that are shown in the user’s newsfeed providing the user fits the target demographic set by the advertiser. This advertisement (ads) is content; pictures/video created by brands which are aimed at reaching a defined audience.
To use Facebook as an example (with its 2 billion active users a month, love it or hate it, it’s currently the biggest social media platform on the planet and your customers are almost definitely on it); over time this platform has amassed an immense amount of data on its ‘users’. This is the usual demographic data – age, sex, location – as well as psychographic data – attitudes, activity, values and behaviour. Social media platforms, primarily Facebook and Instagram allow marketers to target advertisement to very specific audiences (groups of users) in some cases down to very specific niches. 36-year-old women who have just had their first child but do not like dogs, for example.
This is all done with two main purposes in mind. Firstly, platforms like Facebook do not want to annoy their users with irrelevant content or ads. If Facebook started showing users unrelated advertising content then they risk losing users as they will move away to a less ‘sales aggressive’ platform. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of Facebook to match adverts to the right people. Secondly, if advertisers on Facebook continuously saw a lack of return on investment i.e. they placed ads and saw no clicks/orders/purchases etc, that would drive away advertisers and Facebook’s business model would die (and Mark Zuckerberg might miss his next mortgage payment… If he even has one… I suspect not).
Therefore, it is in the best interest of all parties for Facebook’s algorithms to show ads which are highly targeted to users who are more likely to engage with the advertisement. Facebook does not do any of the targeting for you, instead, there are incredibly powerful tools like the Facebook Ads Manager which allow advertisers like us here at Nous Digital to precisely target groups of people – known as a target audience – with creative content which is likely to resonate with them. This content is placed as advertisements in NewsFeeds and Stories of the target audience.
Facebook as a platform at the time of writing has around 5 million active advertisers on the platform. So why is everyone’s NewsFeed not overrun with advertising content? Well, that brings us back to the algorithm. There is only so much space for content within the NewsFeed. The Facebook algorithm determines which content is seen by each individual user. The algorithm is designed to keep users like your drunk uncle Tony engaged on the platform, scrolling, watching, liking and generally consuming content.
Getting eyeballs on your content is vital to ensuring the success of any social media advertising campaign. Algorithms on social media are made up of hundreds or thousands of different elements ranging from how old a piece of content is (recency), what the format of the content is (video/photo) and who posted it.
So… we have established that social media platforms have massive audiences and advertisers use tools to place content within the NewsFeeds of these audiences. Next, we need to understand the auction. All social media platforms all use algorithms of which rate and rank pieces of content based on the accounts, behaviour and interest of ‘users’. All these pieces of content are competing for space in the NewsFeeds of the users. Every single piece of content including advertising content is in an auction. One in which cash is useful, but is not the most important variable. Advertising content must be as good as if not better than non-advertising content in order to rank well and be shown in the ‘NewsFeeds’ of more ‘users’. If the content is ‘bad’ then Facebook will limit the number of users who see that content, the best content is shown to even more users. This way it is possible for organisations which are not necessarily over-flowing with cash to reach a large audience by being creative and producing consistently good content which is engaging to audiences.
Bearing in mind the primary goal of social networking platforms like Facebook is to engage their audience and keep them on the platform. Advertising content, unlike non-advertising content, has an ace up its sleeve and that is the fact that it is paid.
But How Do We Know It Works?
Enter the Facebook Pixel. The Facebook pixel is an analytical tool which allows advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their advertising campaigns. It’s essentially a piece of customisable code which is placed into the head of your website. Pretty much all social media platforms have their own version of this technology which enables advertisers to measure the success of their campaigns. The Facebook Pixel can be set up to be triggered when someone takes an action on your website, such as a simple visit/page view, making a purchase or completing a contact form. Using conversion tracking technologies such as the Facebook Pixel allows advertisers to track the success of a campaign in great detail; from clicks-through to landing pages to phone calls, purchases and even put a cost against that ‘conversion’. This technology also provides demographic data, allowing for ‘Lookalike Audiences’ to be created to help find new customers and also to narrow audience targeting to better improve the return on investment (ROI) of an advertising campaign.
Hold Up! Pixels What Now?
To us, this is the best thing since sliced bread. Facebook Pixels not only allow you track the success of your campaigns, giving you a greater understanding of how your ads are performing, but they also give business owners far more insight and data as to who their customers are.
Facebook pixels give advertisers demographic and psychographic information on who their consumers are. From age, sex, location, habits, likes and dislikes, whether they are married or divorced and even what other pages/brands (your competitors) they are interacting with. This data allows Nous Digital clients to make strategic changes to their branding, positioning, services and products to adjust to the wants and needs of the very people they want to reach and make smarter, more informed decisions.
Armed with the data gathered by the pixel we are able to carry out ‘remarketing campaigns’. If you have a personal social media account then you have almost certainly experienced remarketing before. For example, have you ever been randomly browsing online for a new pair of Nike trainers or looking at that shiny new car you’ve been eyeing up, then, a few days later, that same pair of Nikes or that shiny new car pops up in your newsfeed with 10% off or a special offer? This is remarketing, and it works, it really works. Remarketing allows us to target ads to people that are already familiar in some way with your brand, perhaps from a previous website visit (like the example just given), interaction on your Facebook page or a share of a recent Instagram story you posted.
In short, we can show your ad for 10% off a pair of shoes (for example) that someone looked at on your website a week ago but didn’t purchase for whatever reason. We can then show them this ad at the ‘optimum time’, right when they are in the mood to purchase. A printed leaflet or radio ad can’t do that ;o)
Remarketing is the real power of a Facebook Pixel and it’s worth noting that all major social media platforms (including LinkedIn) have their own version of a Facebook Pixel that provides remarketing technologies.
Remarketing ads are extremely powerful when used correctly. That is when they are not used to annoy and plague the lives of customers. Here at Nous Digital, we are extremely conscious of the fact that consumers today have access to vast amounts of information thanks to the internet. They know when they are being sold to. There is no need to hide/be ashamed of this. The aim of re-marketing ads is not to “follow” people around, instead, we create content to entertain and inform customers, to peak their interests, surprise and delight them. Remarketing ads when crafted correctly are a fix for the ‘oh-what-was-that’ feeling, without annoying the life out of your customers.
What Are The Alternatives?
Businesses have a range of choices when it comes to spending money on advertising. For example, there are ‘offline’ methods such as direct mail, local radio and newspaper ads, leaflets and billboards. Firstly we’d like to make one thing clear. All of these marketing methods, can and sometimes do work. It is the extent to which they work and deliver a Return on Investment (ROI). For example, let’s say your business has £1000 to spend on advertising. You can spend that money on a leaflet run, magazine ad or a billboard or even direct mail. But, when was the last time you ran home excited from work to look through all of your leaflets and direct mail? Your customers probably have the same answer as you. Billboards are the same, when was the last time you got into your car excited to look at all the billboards on your way to work? Probably never. These offline marketing methods are usually fairly expensive – a billboard ad can cost upwards of £200 per week, radio and newspaper ads are even more expensive – are almost impossible to track and measure the success of and for most consumers are actually very easy to ignore.
The sheer number of people one could possibly reach via social media advertising per £ spent cannot be matched anywhere else, unless of course, you have the budget to spend the £1.1 billion that was spent on outdoor advertising (in our opinion – for the most part wastefully) in 2016.
In contrast, social media advertising is trackable right down to the penny, is incredibly underpriced at the moment – it is possible to see CPM (cost per thousand views) as little as £10 – and also allows for the kind of agility never seen before. With social media advertising, it’s possible to test a range of different pieces of advertising content at the same time on a small scale before adjusting and scaling up in budget. This ability to be agile and react to what resonates best with your audience is incredibly powerful and helps to maximise the returns on your advertising spend.
The agility your brand has on social media allows for you to engage in a continuous conversation with your customers, to keep your brand at the forefront by regularly communicating with them in new and exciting ways with full-screen ads, live streams and even simply answering questions about your products/services. This level of interaction with the end consumer is not only expected of brands as part and parcel of ‘great customer service’ but has an almost immeasurable, positive, long-term effects. Your customers become ‘brand loyal’.
When executed correctly social media advertising campaigns are quite probably the best tool in a marketers toolbox to reach, engage and acquire customers at scale, delivering trackable ROI to companies and organisations like yours. Get started today – or don’t, your competitors are just wetting themselves listening to your irritating radio ad whilst throwing your printed leaflet in the bin ;o)
This blog article is also on our main website here. We’re busy rebranding from HD to Nous Digital so in the meantime feel free to get in touch via the HD or Cakecrumbs website if you would like to discuss social media advertising.