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At Kenshoo Social, we wanted to better understand the trials and tribulations of major advertisers (those spending $100,000/year or more on social media) to augment what we’ve learned from our own clients. We turned to Forrester Consulting and commissioned a study to shine some light on what drives success and failure in social media marketing.
In this month’s post, I’m going to walk you through some of the key findings from the study and share key tactics you can implement to ensure you are maximizing the return on your social media investments.
You can download a complimentary copy of the full study, “The Key to Successful Social Advertising,” to get all the insights, but here’s a recap of the main findings Forrester and Kenshoo Social discovered.
1. Social advertisers use a wide range of organic and paid strategies across a variety of social sites, but their success (and definition of success) varies.
2. Organic posting is the most popular social media tactic, but paid advertising is the most successful.
3. Many social advertisers are not using advanced optimization tactics.
4. Social marketers should pay for promoted content (e.g. page post ads) to drive awareness and buy standard ad units (e.g. domain ads) to drive sales.
Success Begins with Defining Objectives
“Generally, social advertisers get what they pay for,” according to the study. “They are more satisfied with the results they achieve from paid advertising than the results they achieve with less costly organic tactics like branded pages, groups, or accounts alone.”
The findings emphasized the increasing need to implement more sophisticated social advertising tactics and to better match these tactics to specific marketing objectives.
From my perspective, measurement and cross-channel attribution are key to getting this right. If you don’t understand how social advertising fuels activity and interaction in other channels, any view you have of the channel is short-sighted and partial at best. Critical as this might be, many large advertisers need to cover some basics first.
Organic posting is most popular, but paid advertising is most successful
Social advertisers use a wide range of social sites and strategies. The most popular tactic is maintaining branded pages on general social networks like Facebook, business networks like LinkedIn, and microblogs like Twitter. Branded pages alone, however, do not make an effective social marketing strategy.
Many social advertisers are not using advanced optimization tactics
More than half of large social advertisers use ad rotation, but only one-third use granular targeting to reach the right audiences. Most of those who do use targeting primarily use basic criteria like demographics.
Facebook, for example, has long offered impressive targeting capabilities that all advertisers ought to leverage. The long-standing ability to target users by interests should never be overlooked, and creative new offerings like Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences continue to take these dynamic targeting abilities to new heights.
Once you’ve embraced and had success with some advanced targeting options, consider moving on to better understand how social media drives success in other channels with multi-channel attribution. You can also combine communication types on Facebook to add some paid reach to organic posts and extend to a much larger cross section of fans.
Pay for promoted content to drive awareness; buy standard ad units to drive sales
The survey found that different paid social strategies drove different kinds of success. Those who paid to promote their branded content (e.g. page post ads) were most satisfied with the awareness they created; those who bought standard social ad units (e.g. domain ads) were happiest with their ability to drive purchases. Whether you’re focused on branding or generating direct response, you should deploy the tactics proven most effective for meeting these specific objectives first and foremost.
Four initial steps
The Forrester study concludes with four initial steps that can immediately improve results:
1. Start with clear marketing objectives.
2. Promote your brand and your content.
3. Take advantage of robust targeting.
4. Develop a holistic approach for greater success.
These insights apply to small and large social advertisers alike but, if you want to execute campaigns of significant scale and incorporate advanced targeting features and cross-channel attribution, you’ll need some automation technology to collect the right insights and help you manage your efforts.
Social media does not need to be a mystery. Wherever your brand is at on the learning curve, this research from Forrester can serve as a good benchmark and help you identify areas for further testing. Download the full report to get all the insights and unlock your keys to success. You can also watch a replay of the Kenshoo Social & Forrester webinar that goes into detail about the study and key takeaways.