man_on_laptopWhile many small businesses are finding that social media has been a huge factor in their marketing success, there are even more that are so frustrated by their attempts that they end up giving up and declaring the tactic a bust. The real issue here is that many, if not most, of the businesses who give up on social are doing so because they feel as though they are not getting a worthwhile return on investment. There are obviously a number of reasons for this, but when I ask about how social fits into their strategy, I hear again and again from people that social has not been a priority for them. Unfortunately, by not including social in their overall strategy, they are missing out on a very large opportunity. Successful businesses include social, mobile and other tactics to reach their customers when, where and how they want to be reached.

Since there are a large number of networks that businesses can become a part of, it is always wise to sit back and map out what factors you care about as key performance indicators (KPI’s) before you start to pour any resources into a social network. These KPI’s can help guide you in making critical decisions regarding what platforms you use as well as where and when you post, tweet or pin. For example, if you were a B2C company selling products aimed at a certain demographic, you would be wise to investigate which networks are most popular to that group. In this case, and without spreading yourself too thin, Facebook and Twitter may be the best options with YouTube, Vine or Tumblr as a secondary network. Likewise, a B2B company would probably do well to focus on LinkedIn and Twitter as primary networks, and one or two others such as SlideShare or Pinterest as secondary networks.

As Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most prevalent networks for all kinds of businesses, these are what I will focus on here. Hopefully, after reading through these, you will find it useful and give it a try.

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads used to be rather difficult to create and manage. Thankfully, this was addressed recently and the whole experience is completely different from what it used to be. It is now simple to create, buy, track and optimize your ads from just about anywhere – including through most any mobile device.

The first thing you need to do is to identify your objectives. If you want more Likes on your pages, you need to optimize for Likes. If you want more sales, you need to optimize for conversions. Depending on what you are looking to achieve, you can also optimize for website clicks, offer claims and even events.

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Once you have an objective in mind, Facebook will help walk you through the steps in getting it up and running. One thing it will ask you to choose though is if you want your ad appearing in the News Feed (larger, but disappears quicker) or over on the side (smaller, but lasts longer). The next choices will be regarding the text of the ad, the headline and the image you want to use. Keeping it to the point, friendly and conversational seems to work best.

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Once you have built your ad, you will need to decide who sees it. You can target people by age, gender, interests, location, language, education and even relationship status and workplace. These factors along with a few other advanced options found within the platform allow you to surgically target exactly whom you want.

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The last part to keep in mind is the budget. Options include a daily budget, a lifetime budget or one developed for a specific time frame. You can also select whether you want to pay for a specific action (like, purchase, etc.) or per thousand impressions. Pricing varies depending on the competition and demographic you are targeting but again, Facebook does a good job in helping to explain this and get you the information you need to make an informed decision.

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Tracking is vital to keeping an eye on things and watching to see how things do. Facebook has a great analytics dashboard, which allows you to see and track how your ads are doing. The only downside here is if you wish to track your ads progress on your mobile device. You now have to download a separate app to do it but once you do, everything works as it should and you can monitor and make changes from just about anywhere.

Twitter Ads

Facebook may be simple but ad placement on Twitter is downright basic. You only have two choices – Promoted Accounts or Promoted Tweets. Which you choose is where things can get a bit tricky so definitely give it some thought on whether having a larger base of followers is more beneficial to your company than just a promoted message.

Promoted Tweets are great for specific messages or links to specific products. If your goal is to increase your number of followers, promoting your account may be the better option. With a promoted account, you only pay when you add new followers.

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When it comes to targeting, you have two main choices. The first is by keyword that allows you to target people who tweet, search or engage with a specific term on the platform. The second method is by interests and followers. As you can guess, when you target by description or interest, you can reach out to people who have indicated that they have an interest in one of the many broad interest categories or who follow specific accounts. Thankfully, there are a number of filters that can be applied to your searches so your target group can be highly specific.

As with any campaign, the budget is always something to keep in mind. With Twitter, you can set a daily maximum or a lifetime maximum to your campaign. With a Promoted Account campaign, you pay per follower, while with a Promoted Tweet campaigns you pay every time someone retweets, replies, favorites, follows or clicks on one of your tweets. Depending on which option you choose, you should expect to spend anywhere between $1.50 to $3.50 per engagement.

LinkedIn ads are very simple to work with as well and if you have any experience with either Twitter or Facebook you will notice many similarities. You start by selecting “Create an ad” or “Sponsor an update” and LinkedIn will walk you through the rest. While there may be a fairly large number of ways to dissect the results of your campaigns, getting them set up in the first place is very easy.

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Lastly, while we have run through the basics of ads for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – your company may benefit from advertising on any one of a multitude of other platforms. Depending on what and where your demographics can be found, you may want to look into advertising on networks such as Vine, Pinterest, YouTube or Tumblr. It all depends on where your customers are – follow them, learn from them and in time you will know the best possible ways to reach them.

Hopefully, your business can benefit from advertising on social networks like we do here at KnowledgeVision. If you are brand new to all of this, just start small and go from there. You never know unless you try so what are you waiting for?

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