Just a few years ago, social media was the Wild Wild West where opportunities to reach your target audience were both plentiful and usually free. We all know that’s not the case anymore.
Instead, almost every social media platform has created a “pay-to-play” environment where companies and organizations have to invest advertising dollars to be seen by both their customers and prospective buyers alike.
Giant corporations have massive social media budgets that give them the ability to reach a sizable audience. But, your small and growing company might not have the freedom and flexibility to throw money at campaigns until you find one that works. Instead, you need to be much more strategic.
Here’s how you can make the most out of your social media budget regardless if you are only spending a few hundred per month or several thousand.
Step 1: Analyze what’s working (and what isn’t).
Open up your performance metrics and take a look at your highest performing ads. Too many companies want to just keep pushing forward, and they fail to schedule a time to review previous work.
Some of the best improvements in your social media strategy will come from reflection and studying the analytics of the company’s page.
The one thing social media platforms aren’t lacking is data. For better or worse, they have a significant amount information about all their users from interests to patterns in behavior. Luckily, as a business owner, you can find some special insights about who’s visiting your page.
Identifying the content garnering the most organic traffic is one way to find what’s working.
Here are some metrics that matter:
Clicks to Landing Page
Paid versus Unpaid Reach
It's difficult to determine what exactly will work for you since every organization and their audience is different. But, as far as the best content for the Facebook’s algorithm goes, the rule of thumb is to create content that looks and feels natural.
Facebook has been making efforts to crack down on what it deems as fake content. Ads that look manufactured and inorganic are pushed farther down the queue. If the content you publish looks natural and shot freely - be it video or photo - it will be pushed to more viewers.
It also helps to use Facebook posts that have a healthy amount of organic reach as a guide for what works for your ads. If you find your sweet spot, then you should create more ads like it.
Facebook is constantly tweaking its algorithm. Get creative and have fun with your ads, but find a formula that works for your brand. If nothing else, remember, the more authentic and human you are on social media, the more likely you are to improve engagement.
Here are some other places to grab fresh insights into effective Facebook strategies:
Review your competition. What makes them different or the same?
What was your most successful ad?
What was your least successful ad?
Which post had the most engagement?
Which ad had the most clicks?
Each of these factor into how you make the most out of your Facebook advertising budget.
Step 2: Define your audience.
You must have a very, specific, defined audience, especially if you have a limited budget. Many businesses want anyone and everyone to be a customer. For example, if you ask a company for the age of their target audience, it's not uncommon for them to provide a large number like 20-65+.
While that may be true, if you’re trying to make one ad relevant to everyone who’s likely to buy your products and services, you’ll fail. If you don’t hyper-target your customers, then you need a massive budget to reach them. Instead, the best approach is creating several small campaigns targeting tiny segments within your target market.
Here are some demographics to help narrow your audience on Facebook:
Choose a specific city to target rather than the entire state or region.
Consider making different ads based on gender.
Try to keep age groups in 10 to 12-year increments.
Next, consider narrowing even further with interests and behaviors.
Target people who are looking for your services.
Find prospective buyers by outlining similar interests to what you have to offer.
Consider some interest your target audience might have regardless of whether or not it has anything to do with your company. For example, a cleaning company could target someone who’s “liked” the local elementary school’s Facebook page because they’re more likely to have a child.
Another powerful tool on Facebook is custom audiences. After installing a Facebook Pixel, you can create “Lookalike” audiences, which allows you to target populations who look like the people who’ve visited your company website in the last 180 days. Once you have your own custom audiences set up, you can reach out to similar groups of people who exist outside of your defined parameters.
Step 3: Create the campaign and define your time frame.
Creating an advertisement in Facebook can be simple. Once you’ve launched your business manager and ads manager to utilize the custom targeting capabilities of the platform, you’re already farther along than most. If you haven’t, Facebook outline’s the process.
When you create a new ad, you’re going to use all the parameters you’ve outlined in Step 2 to guide you. The first step in a new ad is choosing the objective, which can be awareness, consideration or conversions. Within those three categories, you’ll need to choose one of 11 options.
Next, you’ll define your audience. Check out the audience definition gage on the side of the page to determine if you’re too broad or too specific. This is when you can pick and choose what demographics, behaviors and interests apply to your audience to narrow the “potential reach.”
Pro tip: Use the suggestion tool for even more ideas on how to narrow your audience.
Before you leave this page, don’t forget to specify a budget and a schedule.
Finally, you’re going to design the ad by choosing a format, writing the content and uploading the videos or photos.
Once you’ve created your ad with a highly-focused audience, you might think your work is done, but we still have one more step.
Step 4: Wash, rinse and repeat.
You may luck out with a super successful ad campaign on your first try. If so, congratulations! You have the golden ticket. For the rest of us, improving social media strategy is a never-ending project. So, take this opportunity to begin analyzing the data. Look at the performance of your ads since you started the campaign and see if there are any tweaks you can make to the next round of content.
Sometimes, success is as simple as narrowing who you’re targeting (or in some cases expanding). Use your buyer personas to help determine interests and other behaviors worth targeting. Unfortunately, success will come from trial and error, but the more strategic you are about your audiences, the more likely you are to get the most out of your social media budget.
Facebook is one platform where prospective customers go for reviews, but there are dozens of places where customers talk about their experiences. It can quickly become overwhelming if you’re trying to manage feedback on several different platforms.