Chances are you and most people you know have a social media account. As of January 2014, 74 percent of online adults use at least one social networking website, according to the Pew Research Center's Internet Project.
Facebook killed the television ad
Since social networks first emerged in the mid-2000s, they have exploded in popularity across all age ranges and have only become more commonplace with the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile Internet-connected devices, Pew noted. As of September 2014, Facebook is still the most popular social network with 71 percent of online adults using it. However, other networks such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest are also each used by about one-quarter of online adults.
"74% of online adults have a social media account."
While watching television still takes up about half of the average American's leisure time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, advertising on this medium has become more complex. Aside from sporting events and certain primetime shows, few programs bring in the large audiences of the past that would guarantee return on investment. Instead, the population is growing increasingly segmented – watching television on an array of devices and services outside of traditional advertising.
This has made advertising on social media a superior, smarter option. Not only does social media allow for more direct advertising, but it helps your message reach the people who you want as customers.
When you look at prime advertising demographics, the usage rates of social media are even higher. About 89 percent of adults age 18 through 29 use social media, and 82 percent use these sites between ages 30 and 49. Additionally, 78 percent of adults, regardless of age, who earn above $75,000 per year use social media, according to Pew.
Once you decide to launch social media advertising, the key is to create a superior campaign that will allow for maximum exposure and ROI. Try one of these six tips to improve your social media advertising strategy and get your message directly to your users' computer screens.
1. Make sure your content is engaging
Advertising on social media is often a good option for small businesses because it can cost less per click than ads on Google and can target exact demographics and populations. As Entrepreneur magazine explained, advertising on Facebook and other sites can even be easier than other forms of advertising.
"These campaigns are easier to monitor than complex pay-per-click search engine marketing because they require much less day-to-day tinkering," the magazine explained. "They also are less expensive than traditional media ad buys. Done properly, Facebook ads can drive fans to your page and viewers to your website – and most important, create new customers."
While social media is a great space to advertise in, you still need to provide the user with something to click on. Choosing an engaging image and click-worthy copy can be the difference between getting traffic to your site or not, regardless of how smart the media buy is. Ensure that the landing page your ad sends the user to is also entertaining and engaging. Use videos, user experiences and graphics to entice customers.
"Translate your ads into other languages to broaden your reach."
2. Have a presence on the networks your customers are using
Don't focus your advertising efforts on Pinterest if more customers use Instagram or Snapchat. Whether or not you spend heavily advertising on these networks, make sure you at least establish a presence for your customers to mention, link to and engage with.
3. Invest in professional translation services
The popularity of social media isn't just growing in the U.S. – it has spread across the globe. And, as Web connectivity is only expected to grow in some of the world's most populous countries, such as India and Nigeria, social media usage is expected to continue expanding.
Enlarge your company's reach, regardless of the size of your business, by translating your social media advertising and reaching demographics that you won't with English-only ads. You'll be able to get the jump on your competition and corner the market in whatever language you choose.
4. Take advantage of split testing
Before you sink the majority of your marketing budget into a certain advertising strategy, use split or A/B testing to determine which parts of your ads are working. From the color of your image to the message you're trying to get across, this type of testing can help you figure out where you should really be spending your money.
Additionally, with social networks, you can test different options across demographics, tailoring your message to each segment of the population, increasing the likelihood you'll bring in exactly who you want to.
"Target social media users who already visited your site."
5. Sponsor posts and remarketing
Social media ads allow you to have a presence in front of your potential customers' eyes while they're doing other things. This can raise your brand awareness and increase traffic, whether subconsciously or consciously.
Social media blogger Jeff Bulla noted on his site that Polaris Apartments in Columbus, Ohio, increased the rate of clicks on their site by 33 percent by remarketing ads on social media. People who had visited Polaris' website were followed on Facebook by ads for the apartment complex, increasing exposure to someone who's already shown some interest.
6. Don't forget about organic marketing
On sites like Twitter, you don't necessarily need to be paying to sell your product. Simply establish a presence and post about relevant and timely events. However, be smart and patient about how you post to avoid any public relations disasters.