How to make social media and paid advertising work together

Great advertising for free has enormous appeal to any company. Social media is often touted as a free online marketing tool, where a little effort can replace your company’s advertising spend. However, the results aren’t as clear cut. While some companies have pulled out of online advertising all together, smarter businesses are combining social media with paid advertising to expand their reach.

One major problem with only using free social media is that it limits you reach to those of your existing customers who are interested enough in your brand to follow you on a social network. Out of this small pool, you have to hope that the users are engaged enough to share your online marketing materials with their friends. This is difficult to accomplish, and while global brands may have hundreds of thousands of followers, most Facebook pages and Twitter accounts have fewer than 500 followers.

Learn about your market by targeting your ads

Going viral – the grail of online marketing – means getting interesting content to the right audience. For many businesses, it’s hard to get a clear picture of the people who make up their followers. This is particularly true for e-commerce stores which handle hundreds or thousands of purchases, with relatively little information from customers.

Modern ad networks let you target your ads using demographic information. Social networks like Facebook have a great deal of information about their users, so you can experiment to find out whether your product is more popular with young mums or middle-aged mountain-bikers. Using this information, you can then tailor your social media posts to hit key interests for those in your target demographic.

Use free social network posts to test ad campaigns

One advantage of advertising on social media is that you can do a dry run, testing a planned campaign on your existing followers. Best of all, as sites like Twitter and Facebook are free to use, your market research is free. It’s a good idea to test campaigns across multiple sites as you may find that an offer which stirs a response from your Facebook fans doesn’t get a bite on Twitter.

Once you’ve developed a successful online marketing campaign, paid advertising on these networks will give you access to thousands of new potential customers. If they like what they see, you’ll not only see a spike in sales but also gain new followers.

It’s all about the data

As we’ve shown, judicious use of paid for advertising in conjunction with social media posts can create a positive feedback loop that increases both sales and followers, improving the effectiveness of your advertising spend and your social networking time.

As with other online marketing strategies, data is key. The single thing you can do to improve your effectiveness in both arenas is to acquire and understand your data. Begin tracking your tweets and ad clicks, and you’ll soon spot patterns and areas for improvement. If you’re struggling to understand your data, our experts can help.

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