It’s not just cat pictures and poolside humblebrags anymore; in 2016 social media is big business. Statistics vary, but various studies have shown that at least half of all consumers have been influenced by social media when making a buying decision. Some even put that number as high as 85%. Considering this, it’s no surprise that social networks have picked up on this and allowed brands to pay money to get their messages out to wider audiences. Social advertising is a great tool for marketers, so how can your marketing team use it to grow your business?
First things first, you need a solid social media strategy. Your posts should be frequent, and be written in a tone that suits your company’s brand. Throughout your strategy you should also use a mixture of different content mediums, such as text, video, and images. However, tips for creating a solid social strategy is another story for another time. Here’s how you can use social advertising to grow your business.

 1. Know your audience and tailor your content

 Social Advertising is a very powerful tool, because it allows you to target people with certain interests. Each network analyses the content of users’ posts and private conversations to build a profile of what they’re interested in, and as a marketer it allows you to target people based on information about them. So, let’s say your company sells sports gear. Social Networks allow you to pay to put your messages in front of people who frequently post about sports. Instead of using traditional ads, like billboards, to target your messaging at a large group of people – many of whom just won’t be interested – you can ensure that the people you target will have at least a passing interest in what you have to offer.
Picking your audience is the key thing here. You have to ensure that the people you’re targeting will be interested in what you have to say. How old are they? Are they male or female? What are they interested in? Where do they live? What job do they do? How do they spend their free time?
Really agonise over this stage, discuss it with your colleagues and really refine who you think will react positively to your messages. The success or failure of a social advertising campaign can hinge on how well you do at this stage, so make sure you leave no stone unturned. After all, it doesn’t matter how good your content is if the people who are seeing it aren’t interested.
Then you need to think about your content. How will it engage with the audiences you’ve defined? A really important thing to think about is the news agenda. So your company sells sports gear, are there any popular sporting events you can piggyback on?
Thinking about all of these things early on will set you up for success in your social advertising campaign.


2. Pick your platform(s)

Considering the audiences and content you’ve already defined, have a think about what kind of social networks they might use.
Facebook is usually a fairly safe bet across the board; there are around 30 million users across the UK, and all age demographics are well represented in the user base. Additionally, Facebook’s targeting tool is incredibly powerful and allows you to really hone in on a preferred audience. However, there’s some evidence that the under-20s aren’t as enamoured with the network as everyone else, so bear this in mind if you’re thinking of using Facebook to target younger users.
Instagram, the second most popular social network, is also a good platform to use. The gender split of the network is weighted towards women, but there are plenty of men who use it also. If you have strong images or video content, this is a great platform to use.
Another platform to consider is LinkedIn. The main benefit of LinkedIn advertising is that users will list information about their careers on their profiles, meaning that you can target users by their job title and level of seniority. So if you want to get your message in front of key decision makers at board level, LinkedIn allows you to do so.
In our experience, Twitter Advertising is not a particularly beneficial exercise. The engagement rate across the social network is incredibly low, and the same can be said for advertised content. Additionally, the targeting tool is not as specific as those on rival networks, meaning that it can be difficult to fine tune your audiences enough to be impactful.

3. Schedule and tweak


When you’ve decided who your adverts are for, and what networks they’ll be published on, you need to go ahead and get them out there. You can use scheduling functions on each social network to ensure that all of the adverts go out at the same time.
So you’ve scheduled your ads. Great! But the work doesn’t stop there. You need to keep an eye on the performance of your ads to ensure that they’re delivering. It’s best practice to spread your budget across numerous ads, so that if a few of them are failing to deliver, or not delivering as much as expected, other ads can help to pull up the average.
With ads that aren’t delivering as expected, there’s nothing to lose from tweaking the audience as you go. You could make a few subtle alterations, or make wholesale changes in the hope of better delivery. It’s up to you. But if an ad is failing to deliver as much as expected, you should make changes of some kind. If not, you’re just wasting money.

4. Analyse and refine

 When the campaign is finished, take a look at the numbers and figure out what went well. If it’s your first campaign, it’s quite unlikely that you got everything right first time. And even if the campaign was a runaway success, there will always be things you can improve. Even if you’re a seasoned Social Advertiser, when you’re promoting a new product there will always be results and outcomes you may not have expected. Always be open to changing your approach if something didn’t work out the first time. You’ll reap the rewards later.