You’ve probably heard of the decline in organic reach on social media platforms. For example, the organic reach for published content on Facebook fell by 52% in 2016 making it harder for businesses to reach their voice to their fans. Other platforms have also adopted the smart news feed that filters through thousands of pieces of content to curate only a handful of the most relevant ones.
Consequences are your reach on social media is dying…
The possible solution is using social media advertising. But if we know it, then everybody knows it.
And, there are a few problems with social media ads:
- Ads and promoted content are labeled. Even if you’ve made great promoted content, chances are people will still treat it as an ad.
- If content saturation caused Facebook to lessen its organic reach, the same might apply to paid reach. There is the same problem: “competition.” There are lots of people trying to pay their way to their audience, and this makes it difficult even for the paying users to get noticed.
- Even ads or promoted content on some platforms should have a minimum level of engagement to be shown to the full potential audience.
- Running ads and promoted content on social media platforms is costly and time-consuming. You can’t risk your reputation and money on low quality ads, so you should spend time and money to optimize them. Now that your reach has expanded, a wrong move could have more negative results.
The bottomline is you shouldn’t expect your reach and engagement on social media platforms to skyrocket simply by using ads or promoted content. Only when done correctly, social media ads can boost your reach and engagement.
Here are four areas you should focus on before diving deep into social media ads:
- Audience targeting
- Audience experience
- Content curation
- Content optimization
1. Targeting the right audience
People provide social media platforms with valuable demographic (gender, age, education, profession, occupation, marital status, etc.) and behavioral information (interests, preferences, reactions, etc.). Profiles are segmented and classified based on various factors, and are ready to be targeted with relevant content.
The good thing about targeting users based on their profile info is that you get to provide personalized content for them and be sure that they will love it.
But here’s the problem.
Social media ads work best when you keep your audience small. In other words, the more defining elements you consider for your audience persona and the more you limit your scope, the more probable it is for your content to reach the right audience.
So, your first step should be to define the exact audience persona who finds the most value in your content. Instead of targeting a broad range of potential people hoping that they’ll give you a positive response, you need to research your target audience’s pain-points and needs, form a well-defined persona, curate relevant content based on the defined persona and then expand the persona upon success – techniques that are mostly used in account-based Marketing.
A good example of a marketer taking advantage of a well-targeted LinkedIn campaign is Fernando Leon of Single Point of Contact. He could target some of his company’s potential customers by optimizing his LinkedIn profile and providing case studies and IT related articles curated specifically for them.
When defining your target audience for LinkedIn ads, you have to choose from lots of targeting options: location (required field), company name/industry/size, job title/function/seniority… Narrowing down your audience means choosing more options and defining your target audience in detail.
LinkedIn allows a maximum of 100 options but depending on the type of the ad (sponsored content, text ads, or sponsored InMail) it proposes a minimum scope for your audience.
2. Providing a seamless experience across various platforms and devices
People use various platforms for different reasons and they expect different content types in various platforms.
For example, because Twitter is a great platform for promoting short texts such as news of your upcoming events or products, it could be used for raising awareness and encouraging people to interact with your content on other platforms.
Knowing what content your audience expects on different platforms helps you provide a seamless experience for them. For example, videos on Youtube, rather than Twitter, have higher conversion rates, and in-depth articles are more expected and responded to on LinkedIn rather than Facebook.
You can also promote your video on Youtube and drive people from Youtube to Twitter by adding buttons on your Youtube business channel.
The same is true for advertising on various marketing channels such as mobile and PC devices. An omnichannel marketing approach considers the kind of content people are interested in across their different devices.
For instance, your audience might be more interested to interact with your blog content on their mobile devices, but convert (buy your product, register in your seminar/course, etc.) on their PCs. Various targeting options on social media platforms enable you to provide a seamless consumer experience by providing unique content for different devices across various platforms.
3. Curating content that converts
You don’t expect people to click on every promoted content they see, right? They already see lots of content through their news feed and then there are other ads across various platforms. Your ad could be the last straw.
Unless…your copy is super engaging.
There are two aspects to an engaging ad: first, the ad’s surface copy – the bait or what people get to see as your message, and second your target page’s copy – where people are taken after clicking on your ad.
The best way to know if your ad’s surface is attention-grabbing is to experiment with different forms when trying to have an organic reach. Write different copies for your ad and share them on various platforms to see which ones get more attention. But generally, there are some guidelines to make your ad copy more attention-grabbing.
Tips to grab attention
- Address your audience’s pain points by asking questions. It is noteworthy to say that almost all the articles on Social Media Examiner start with questions about readers interests and pain points.
- Give a clue to your new original findings to convince people your content is valuable.
- Be assuring without sounding unrealistic so that people know you’re really there to ease their pains.
- Use what is appealing to the reptilian brain such as contrasts, simple language, emotional words, and engaging visual elements.
For your content’s body copy, again the best way to know how to make them more engaging is to experiment and find out what’s appealing for your audience. A simple language, or too much explaining might be offensive if your audience consists of academic, well-read people.
But if you’re interested to know some proven and universal tips that could make your content more cognitively appealing, here are some tips from my research:
You Have 8 Seconds To Provide The Hook
This study shows that in the age of smartphones, human attention span (8 secs) has shrunk to less than that of a goldfish (9 secs). When you take your online content in front of people, you have 8 seconds or so to look interesting and grab their attention, or they’ll fly to check out another content.
Target The Decision-Maker Part Of The Brain
The reptilian brain is responsible for instinctive decision-making. According to neuromarketing principals (based on a book written by Patrick Renvoisé and Christophe Morin) the reptilian brain has six characteristics:
- It is self-centered—always searching for ways to relieve pain and increase comfort.
- It can pay attention only to the beginning and ending of lengthy communications.
- It is visual.
- It likes contrast.
- It best understands simple language.
- And, finally, it is triggered by emotion.
Write About States Of Mind
We have the natural tendency to track others’ states of mind. Memories, beliefs, desires, intentions, expectations, points of view, anything that could be found in others’ minds are interesting for us. In cognitive psychology it is called “Theory of Mind”, the ability to attribute distinct mental states to others as compared to oneself. And it is real mind reading. The takeaway is that talking about mental states in your content could be great attention-grabbing. Use human case studies, write in first person point of view, use your personal experiences, and ask interview questions based on mental evaluations: feelings, emotional experiences, judgments, predictions…
Harness The Power Of Stories
Studies show that our brain does not make any distinction between reading about an experience or encountering it in real life. The implication is you can activate brain’s sensory parts by incorporating the senses in your writing, and this is an exciting way to engage your audience. For example when people read words like “lavender,” “cinnamon” and “soap”, the parts of the brain responsible for smelling was activated in addition to the parts related to language processing.
Don’t leave your audience high and dry in making sense of the processes in your content. Be clear in where you started from and where you’re heading with your content.
You can’t imagine how people count on the authenticity of social media ads when deciding whether to be engaged or not. When reading content, there are two scenarios: either the author is there to solve a real problem, or he’s just another scum trying to steal people’s money or sell them a wicked opinion.
4. Content optimization using some basic SEO techniques
Using some basic SEO techniques can help you expand your reach on social media. Like Twitter, Facebook’s algorithm considers content’s relevance and people’s engagement with it as the most important factors for the promoted content or ad display. But how do the algorithms find the most relevant content? By looking for specific keywords in the post’s copy.
Knowing what keywords your audience is interested in is the biggest step in optimizing your content for social media. You can find out the most engaging keywords by testing various copies of the same content and seeing what gets the most engagement, or seeing what is already engaging for your audience.
Put the right keywords in your ad copy and you’ll definitely see more exposure.
Another basic SEO tip that could prove helpful for expanding the reach of your promoted content is making your posts trustworthy. Rand Fishkin explains that trustworthiness is an element related to a good user experience which avoids issues such as pogo sticking.
Trustworthiness of your content brings more engagement (likes, comments, shares) which is an important factor in content display. Two main questions to ask when optimizing your content for trustworthiness are: “do you look trustworthy in terms of a valid and professional layout, content, and visual navigation?” and “do other people validate you (testimonials, citations and references for the data you provide, outside references…)?”
The answer to these questions could determine whether your content is trustworthy or not.
Social Media Ads
People are typically skeptical about anything advertised or promoted these days. And they have ample reason. Advertisers don’t spend much time on producing value for their audience on the pretext that they are paying for the content display. This makes it even worse because an ad or promoted content should do more than a typical content to sound more trustworthy.
On the other hand, social media platforms are trying hard to improve their users’ experience by showing them the most relevant content. If you are willing to reap more from your social media ads you should try to perform better in these 4 areas: audience targeting, audience experience, content curation, and content optimization.
These 4 steps should get you moving in the right direction when it comes to optimizing your social media advertising strategy, especially if you pair them with tools that help take your efforts to the next level.
Do you have any tricks of your own to share about social media ads? Anything special you’ve done to increase engagement or conversions?
Leave a comment below!
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