On investing (financially and mentally) in paid social…

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Social media advertising (meaning spending money on Ads products from social networks) is a must have, plain and simple. The faster Brand Managers and CMO’s get their heads around that the better off their brand will be. How much to invest and how to allocate is the next question.

Truth is there is no boiler plate budget to allocate, especially for a brand still trying to figure out its way on paid social.  First, I think it is important to not think about it as paid social Vs. traditional means of advertising, because it becomes abstract and decision makers get gun shy about jumping into an unknown arena. We suggest you think as a human being living in 2017 and think about where people are paying attention and how you can reach them cost effectively. If you can find underpriced areas to reach targeted prospects, you should entertain that, wherever it might exist, right? Make a threshold decision to at least explore those and you’ll find that social media platforms are very attractive in that regard.

One you have made that smart decision, then I do think you need to be able to allocate a healthy budget that is consistent and doesn’t waiver as soon as the winds change.  I suggest brands allocate enough so they can balance between acquisition, retention and R&D/experimentation. Explained further:

You want to be able to allocate funds to reaching brand new eyeballs and bringing them in at the top of the funnel. This is done with clicks campaigns and boosted posts targeted at new audiences. It is very important to allocate a fair amount to this initiative, as this is your method for advertising to brand new prospects. You cant skimp on this and you need to constantly feed the top of the funnel, if you ever wish to convert consistently downstream.

Almost 10 years ago I purchased a billboard placement for 1 month on the Long Island Expressway for $30,000 because it allowed me to put my message in front of “over 1 million commuters” (BS) to create the same type of awareness.  Mind you that those commuters were not all looking at our ad (most weren’t), were not targeted (so our product didn’t apply to many of them) AND there was no CTA at all to move them down the funnel and/or track them. Social networks allow you to target the right audience without overpaying for the reach of others, provides you with a CTA opportunity AND awesome insights and reporting.

You also want to take people further down the funnel with retargeting as part of a conversions campaign and want to message to your earned audiences (visitors, emails, fans etc.) to keep them in the community and engaging with and hopefully sharing your content. It also allows you to have a more receptive group to target when you roll out new products and SKUs. Those who know and love the brand are the most likely to pounce when you diversify and add more options.  Retargeting is a surefire way to convert new customers and repeat customers too, just with slightly varied messaging. New sales are your foundation and turning a one time customer to a repeat customer, is a very important building block for online success.

Lastly, you want to have a budget focused on experimenting with new techniques (different audience segmentation, dark posting etc.) and with new products from social networks as they roll out, so you can be an early adopter and capitalize on underpriced attention before the big guys roll in. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest continue to roll out advancements (seemingly daily) and you want to have dollars available to put in play.  Whereas Google PPC Ads are very overpriced and flooded in most categories, Instagram Ads optimized for video views, are actually less so and provide great value for their price.  We are big believers in that approach at the moment and the clients we have with those available funds are reaping the benefits of this recommendation.

Bottomline is you need to first commit to the idea that social networks are a real value play for your budget. Then you want to allocate funds to all three of the areas above, and don’t want to deplete an initiative to fund another one, before you give it the chance to really kick in and return nice results. Now I am not saying it needs to be equally distributed into thirds, and at times it will likely lean more heavily in one area.  What I am saying is brands need to fund all three consistently, monitor the performance closely AND remain focused on proving the positive (it works) rather than the negative (it doesnt).

Do that, and you will win!

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On taking the leap with paid social…

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I am constantly baffled by clients who are spending money on traditional mediums like TV, outdoor and print, but are still so hesitant to jump into the paid social game. I think it is more of a “creature of comfort” move than anything else and this really is something that needs to change.  Most just prefer what they know (even if it stinks) over what they don’t know (or worse, just don’t understand) when it comes to marketing.

Paid social media provides highly targeted audiences to brands looking to sell products and in a medium where they are paying close attention. This is not serving banner ads on publisher sites, nor is it competing in the Google landscape, where smaller brands with minimal budgets can get eaten alive. This is about value for your dollar and knowing where consumers are paying attention and this is where we are ALL IN, ALL DAY LONG!

Above is a screenshot from a client’s Google Analytics after our first week with them. We convinced them to assign a nominal budget ($200) to test paid social out, and it produced early and promising results.  They generated $852 on $200 spent (4X1 return) and generated 807 unique visitors and 9000+ impressions for their branded content.  I would argue this might be the best $200 they spent on their business to date, and it should certainly pave the way for a bigger commitment to the platform(s).

With traditional efforts, even if they worked, you wouldn’t have this type of actionable data to prove it. I still have conversations with my brand partner counterparts where they tell me that paid social doesn’t produce an ROI. Some stay away as a result, while others do it begrudgingly and more so as a necessary evil than a real revenue producing tactic.

It is so important that we change that mindset and that brands take that leap of faith with paid social.  The efforts pay off and without a commitment to the cause, you are leaving money on the table and allowing your competitors to take those dollars. That just cant happen, right?

 

 

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Be content, with content marketing funnels.

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If you aren’t all in on leveraging Facebook’s Advertising platform, you are missing out.  Paid Facebook efforts are the most powerful tool in your arsenal these days and you need to be leveraging them on the daily. We have pointed that out here on this blog many times before, and we continue to deploy for our clients on a consistent basis.

The royal flush is to have a content plan, that you then put money behind to help convert users down a marketing funnel. In the picture above you can see that strategy in full effect. Our awesome client Lurong Living, has been a believer in the power of social media for many years now and has been with Sircle for 3+.

They are looking to sell products and subscriptions online, and they want to target a very specific audience and even subsets of audiences with their messages. Facebook has proven to be the real winner (not surprisingly) to do so, and we are constantly driving results through our efforts.

With this one post, we created a very simple recipe (piece of content) that lives on their domain. We then targeted a specific audience with $10 via a boosted post and optimized it for engagement. Typically that would translate to very little reach, as Facebook is objective based and is promoting this to users based on their likelihood to interact with it. The 10,000+ people who saw this piece of content were therefore an ancillary benefit of this initiative. Of greater importance (at least in this instance) were the 685 clicks and 558 link clicks bringing traffic back to the website.

This not only led to direct sales opportunities, but it was a very easy way to build up an audience for our retargeting campaign. Now we know what type of content they consumed and can target them with a very specific Ad that we know they are likely to be interested in.

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This is just a small snapshot of the results of leveraging that funnel mentality. Those conversions produced 4X the spend up front and since the product purchased was a monthly subscription, the lifetime value goes way beyond that.

Yup- It pays to play!

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Win of The Week: $5 in Facebook spend = $424 in revenue!

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We are big fans of paid social and we have shared our POV on the benefits of paying to play on Facebook here before.  With Facebook, sometimes the simplest of tactics can produce some really profound results.

In the image above we created a nice looking (Facebook optimized) piece of native content to help our awesome client Black Halo announce that they have new arrivals on their website. For a fashion brand that regularly releases new lines and updated SKU counts, this makes for some really simple and newsworthy information.  Sure we could deploy some really tactical strategic targeting (and we do of course) aiming at fans of competitors in the dress category, retargeting visitors to their dress pages and/or even members of their email list, but here it was a simple announcement and we just put $5 behind targeting their fans.

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For a brand who has not deployed any Cost Per Like (CPL) campaigns targeting new and unfamiliar users to meet their brand, their fan base is more “real and earned” than most. These are users who actually like the brand and their garments and therefore, new product arrival announcements are of real value.

As a result, $5 in guaranteed delivery to fans led to $424 in new revenue. That revenue was also the best kind, because it was on their own website and at full retail, which means it is the highest margin business they earn as a brand.

Mark that as a win for social media!

 

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