How you reach your potential customers depends greatly on where they are in their path to purchase. Content Marketing, for example, is a great way to reach consumers when they are trying to solve a problem, and Local Search is great for when they are ready to purchase and need to select a vendor but what about the largest group of potential customers who have a need or desire that they are not acting upon yet?
As consumers, we exist within a cloud of wants and needs that have varying degrees of urgency associated with them. Those golf clubs you want would be nice to have but they haven’t really reached a point in your mind where you are ready lay down the cash required. But, if a deal popped into your window of attention at the right time, the degree of interest might be advanced and get you motivated to do a little research. Advancing this broad swath of consumers that fit into this category requires advertising.
The Advertising Landscape Has Shifted
Once upon a time businesses had a clear path to advertising. They could run an ad in the local paper or create a commercial to play on the local radio station, but those days are gone. Old media has seen audiences plummet making the cost to benefit ratio too high and the results too hard to track. Confronted with this dilemma many businesses abandoned outbound marketing through advertising altogether. Native advertising on social media platforms is the new alternative for advertisers. It is cost effective and offers precision audience targeting that traditional media could only dream about. It also allows you to advertise your business in way that doesn’t come off as screaming. By targeting your ads to groups based on demographics and interests, you can present the value of your product or service in a way that flows right into your potential customers normal activity and spurs their soft interest to a more motivated level.
How Does Advertising in Social Media Work?
The growth of social media platforms is based on providing a free service. No one has to pay to have a Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest account. These businesses depend on developing large audiences and free is the best way to do that. But a business that gives its product away has to make money somewhere and for social media platforms that comes through advertising. These savvy businesses knew they could not simply emulate old ways of advertising, so they developed a new approach that is referred to as Native Advertising. This simply means that the ads fit into the ecosystem of the user experience in such a way that they feel natural or “native” to the environment. It has allowed social media platforms to generate revenue through a system that is less offensive to consumers and therefore allows businesses to slip alongside them to motivate them to pursue their wants and desires.
Opportunities in Native Advertising
Most of the major social media platforms already have advertising models in place. These include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Photo based social platforms (Instagram and Pinterest) are farther behind but are slowly introducing their own advertising models as well. The big three platforms that offer advertising tools present many opportunities for creative advertising and targeting. With careful consideration to how people use each platform, you can develop strategies to engage and motivate them. For example, advertisers that are developing business to business (B2B) campaigns may tend to look at LinkedIn as the only option for B2B ads but don’t forget, those same business people that you target on LinkedIn are on Facebook too. Plus they may be a little friendlier to an ad while they are socializing on Facebook instead of while they are networking on LinkedIn.
Facebook also offers a much cheaper proposition than LinkedIn. I have found the costs to be 4 and 5 times as much on LinkedIn for parallel demographic targets. But, if LinkedIn offers the best access to your market, then it is still a great deal compared to traditional approaches.
A Scroll With Your Audience Provides Opportunity
The interesting aspect of social media advertising is that it offers the ability to whisper into peoples ear. By that I mean if a person is scrolling through their wall and a native ad presents a solution to a problem or desire they have, even one that they were not actively pursuing, it really doesn’t seem that intrusive and they are much more likely to invest a click. Where traditional search advertising like Adwords connects a direct search to a direct solution, native ads offer an opportunity to make a suggestion. The key is to match the suggestion to the demographic
Native Ad Tools Provide Precise Targeting
We recently built a website for a customer that provides concrete reinforcement for large-scale projects. One of their biggest challenges the business faces is finding skilled labor. We wondered if there was a good advertising opportunity to connect with potential employees. In that particular segment of the construction industry these laborers are called, “rodbusters.” None of us had ever heard this term before so we ran some search queries to see if people actually search for this, but we were unable to find much in the way of search volume. But, we decided to run it through Facebook’s ad tools to see if it was a group we could target and here’s what we found:
Instant access to a niche category. We can now develop a campaign to appeal to this group and offer them job opportunities based on their geographic location. Bada-bing.
The Devil is in the Details
It behooves the social media platforms to make the process of advertising as simple as possible. The easier it is to do, the more likely people will spend their money advertising. But as good as the tools are, advertising effectively in social media still requires a solid fundamental campaign approach and a familiarity with the details of each platform. For instance the nuances of Facebook ads can be very frustrating. Images can only have text on 20% of the total area which presents a challenge for most people to determine. Also the text portion is subjected to extremely complicated filtering that can leave even the best of us scratching our heads as to why an ad was rejected.
If you are planning on advertising through these systems on your own, make sure you are very familiar with the guidelines for each platform and start slowly. You don’t want to be experimenting with an ad campaign when there is a deadline bearing down on you. The details can be confounding and leave you wasting your time and burning up advertising funds without much benefit.
The alternative is to deal with an agency that handles native advertising. A good agency will provide superior campaign messaging and effective ads, leaving you and your sales team with more time to focus on converting a new stream of leads into customers.