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September 08, 2014

Jenni McDonough


Chief People Officer

Posting content everyday on social media networks to quickly drive lead generation or direct sales are long gone. You need a plan, a strategy, goals and objectives. In other words – social media marketing is no longer free.

The driving force behind these changes is the ever-changing algorithm of Facebook and consumer giants who are capitalizing on the latest and greatest advertising opportunities on Twitter, YouTube, Pandora, LinkedIn and Instagram before any of us can even ask to spend money with the networks. Simply put, staying ahead of the curve on social media has become more than just one full-time position [that’s also a blog post for another time.] But that’s why we, at Alloy, are here! To scour articles, research optimization techniques, research trends, brainstorm and conceptualize creative and engaging social concepts that will, in the end, help you make $$$$!

One way to achieve ROI on your digital strategy is utilizing social media ad -buys. A few questions we often receive, at Alloy, about these ad types are:

1.) Do they work?

2.) How much will it cost me?

3.) How long should they run?

4.) What social network should I run them on?

The answer to all of these questions is simple: It depends. I know, I know – that’s annoying and in the next few paragraphs I’ll try to condense and make a few assumptions to guide you through the how-to’s of social media ad buying by answering the four aforementioned questions as concisely as possible without getting into the nitty gritty wherein the whole “it depends” answer comes into play:

Answer 1: Yes, they work!

According to 71% of advertisers are allocating more of their budget to social media in Q3 of 2014 than in January 2013, when an estimated 58% were expecting their social media advertising to increase. Why? Well, because everyone is communicating through social media networks now, smartphone use is increasing and Grandma has hopped on the bandwagon too. So, therefore, the way we consume information from news, to listening to music, to celebrity gossip, to watching TV all the way to buying products and services has shifted significantly over the past 10 years from offline, to online and, now, to social.

Answer 2: It [probably] won’t cost as much as you are thinking

About three years ago there were two (maybe three) types of ads on Facebook, one ad type on Twitter and Google ads were king. Now, there are a plethora of options on all networks and things are just, well, really complicated on Google unless you are a Google master [a.k.a. Google Adwords Certified] like my teammate, Jenn. But, one thing is certain – social media advertising can fit into your budget, you just have to define what that budget is.

Almost all social media advertising can be purchase by setting a CPC (cost per click) or CPE (cost per engagement) budget so that the add is automatically paused for the day or timeframe once that budget is reach. You can even edit that budget throughout the duration of the ad.

One of the most beautiful things about social media advertising is that budget, as well as other metrics and creative can be edited, MEASURED, viewed, monitored and go-live in [almost] real-time, which is light-years ahead of what that multi-million dollar commercial can do in terms of real-time distribution and measurement and editing.

Answer 3: Ok, the amount of time your ad runs really does depend on your objectives

Actually, I want to rewind and say EVERY. SINGLE. DECISION. you make when purchasing advertisements on social media networks SHOULD depend on your overall social media goals and objectives as well as the particular campaign, announcement, promotion or event goals and objectives. However, if you are running a contest for four weeks on Facebook – I’d say it would be a safe bet to also run the ad promoting that contest for four weeks. If you are hosting an event that is advertised on Twitter, I would recommend running the ad two weeks before the event started, and so on. See, it really depends. 

Answer 4: You should run your ads where your audience lives

According to a recent Pew Research study, Facebook is the dominant social networking platform, used by 57% of all American adults. Yes, most people are registered users of Facebook, but before you hit “submit” on that ad, ask yourself again, “who, specifically, am I trying to reach and why?” The answer to this question will help to guide where your ad runs. For example, if you are hosting an educational seminar for your target demographic of angel investors, you will want to buy an ad where that person wears the proverbial hat of angel investor, which would be LinkedIn and Twitter.

Of course, there are other factors to take into consideration before you make that final decision including ad type on each network, copy and design as well as monitoring and editing ad performance throughout its timeline. As a top New Orleans and Atlanta PR firm, at Alloy, we’re always looking for ways to help our technology clients increase their bottom line, whether that is through traditional or digital marketing efforts. Interested in utilizing social media ads to increase sales, drive lead generation or create buzz? We'd be happy to provide you with the strategies and tactics you need. Just hit us up on Twitter.

Have social media ad-buy tips and tricks you’d like to share too? Tell us in a tweet! @alloy_crew. As always, we’d love to hear from ya!