Digital Marketing

How to run an effective paid social marketing campaign

As a digital marketer, you are poised for significant advantage if you know how to run a paid social media campaign. In the current marketing landscape, social media is one of the best ways to build a brand and produce significant returns on investment.

Those who take it upon themselves to learn the ins and outs of social media marketing will help add value  for companies looking to establish a social media presence for:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Generating leads
  • Boosting direct sales
  • Boosting web traffic
  • Better understanding customers’ needs

Fifty-four percent of social browsers use social media to research products. While organic social media marketing efforts can be very effective, paid social marketing can help to amplify your efforts. It will be essential to understand how to run paid ads on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to effectively reach all of your target audiences.

A paid social media marketing campaign is a multifaceted process that requires a lot of effort on your part if you want to see results. Many digital marketers take professional development courses for paid social media marketing. Or they get in on a comprehensive social media marketing track to help learn the basics. This training helps them understand how to create high-quality content, target the right users, set a budget for paid promotions and track their results to ensure they’re getting a good return on investment.

Digital marketers who are well versed in paid social media campaigns know that there are several steps to consider before launching. Without these steps, your marketing can fall flat, and you can waste time and money on ads that no one will see or engage with. To successfully carry out a paid social media campaign, take the following measures.

1. Know your objective

Without a clear objective, you’ll have no way of measuring your success or determining what went wrong. Your paid social media advertising campaign should align with your overall marketing strategy and business goals.

Do you want more engagement with your content? More followers? Ads that better convert? Before you start spending money, make sure that you are clear on your end goals. Write down these goals for yourself, your company or your client, so everyone is clear on how to go forward.

Setting goals will help guide your decisions throughout the campaign’s entire lifecycle. It will determine your audience, the platform you will market on, ad format, budget and more.

2. Understand your audience

Marketing to the wrong audience, or with no clear audience in mind, is a waste of time, resources and money — especially for paid social media campaigns. Defining your target audience for a campaign will be vital for assessing how to go about your next steps.

Have you defined a buyer persona and segmented your market? Understand what messages your marketing must convey to reach your target audiences of different ages, locations, genders and interests.

3. Choose the right social media platform(s)

A demographic may prefer one or more social media platforms over another. Understanding your audience helps you choose where to launch your ads.

For example, Instagram is often regarded as an ideal platform for reaching millennials, while LinkedIn is best for business-to-business (B2B) audiences.

TikTok is suited for teens and younger generations, while Twitter is ideal for news junkies who want the latest on politicians and brands. Many marketers choose several social media platforms to hit multiple demographics and maximize campaign performance. It’s important to consider the demographics of each forum before launching your campaign so you can ensure it will reach its intended audience.

4. Conduct competitor research

Competitor research is a baseline for social media marketing. It’s important to know what your competitors are doing so you can set yourself apart by offering better value or a different product or service. Understand what your competitors are doing well and where they are coming up short so you can mimic their successes and avoid their pitfalls.

Trained digital marketers use a paid social media analytics platform to research their competitors’ top-performing posts, ads and follower demographics. An analytics platform can even set up alerts to notify you when your competitors launch new campaigns so you can quickly improve on them.

5. Pick the right ad format(s)

While all social media platforms will allow you to create ads with their respective ad tools, not every ad format is suitable for all social networks. Understanding the different types of paid social media ads and their uses can help marketers choose the best way to serve specific audiences or campaigns.

Here are how social media platforms can be most effectively leveraged:

Instagram: Carousel ads (multiple photos), a single image or video ad (one photo or video), and story ads.

Facebook: Photo ads, video ads, carousel ads (multiple photos), a single image or video ad (one photo or video). The pre-produced videos autoplay without audio when shown in the newsfeed. Users can tap on them to access sound while scrolling through their feed.

Twitter: Promoted tweets, promoted accounts, promoted trends, video ads, carousel ads (multiple photos), a single image or video ad (one photo or video).

LinkedIn®: Text ads, image ads, sponsored updates (which look like a newsfeed story rather than just an image), carousel ad format for images, and headline video ads.

You may notice that many social media platforms have the same ad formats. Be wary, however, as some formats may be more successful on one social media platform over another.

6. Determine what you want to spend

Different social media platforms have different prices for ads. You’ll need to choose a platform and then decide how much you want to spend on your ad. When bidding for social media ads, two main strategies are cost-per-action and cost-per-thousand impressions (cost-per-mille, or CPM).

With a per-action strategy, you only pay when a user clicks on your ad and completes the desired action, such as signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase. This type of bidding is often used for retargeting campaigns, as you want to make sure you’re only paying when someone is interested in your product or service.

A CPM bidding strategy focuses on how many times an ad is shown, regardless of whether or not someone clicks on it. This type of strategy is usually used for awareness campaigns, as you want your ads to be seen by as many people as possible to reach the desired audience.

You’ll also want to determine how long your campaign will last. Setting your campaign’s start and end dates requires consideration of your budget because the longer it runs, the more you’ll pay.

7. Create engaging content and ads

Your storytelling skills are essential when creating paid ads — just like storytelling is essential for any other social media marketing campaign. Designing professional-looking images or videos for your ads will help you stand out from the competition. High-quality photos or videos are important because, as with any digital asset, they increase engagement rates, but only if you target these assets specifically for paid social media marketing campaigns.

Remember to use high-quality images and videos that clearly explain what your brand is about, as these elements will be the first things users see when they scroll through their feeds. Also, make sure to use a call-to-action on your ads and encourage users to click on the ad. Your CTA should be clear and concise so that people know exactly what you want them to do after they click.

8. Monitor success, optimize and retarget

It’s essential to monitor how users interact with your ads and then make necessary changes and improvements. It will be critical to track the success of various ad types (such as single image versus video ads and other ad formats) and different audiences (based on age, location and interests). 

Digital marketing professionals have several tools in their arsenal for tracking aspects of their social media campaign, including Facebook Certified Digital Marketing Associate training, Google Analytics and Google Ads measurement tools. You can get familiar with these platforms and their applications through a comprehensive digital marketing study track that prepares you to become certified in each program.

You will also want to optimize and retarget successful ads to ensure you get the most return on your investment. You can do this by creating custom audiences based on users who have interacted with other similar ads, such as ones for other products or services. By using a custom audience, you’ll show these customers your different ad campaigns, which will increase the likelihood that they click on them.

Social media advertising formats

As mentioned above, there are a variety of ad formats to choose from. Depending on your business goals and social media platform, you will decide to use some over others. A trained digital marketer understands which ad formats work best for their campaign and social media platform.

Here’s a detailed explanation of each common ad format.

Static image ads

These are still among the most popular ads on social media, but video ads are slowly replacing them. Businesses should use static image ads to promote content related to their other products or services.

Photos are more eye-catching than simple text, so static image ads will capture your audience’s interest. Additionally, images are still compelling with older audiences who aren’t used to social media platforms emphasizing video, such as TikTok.

Video ads

Videos are more expensive than static images, but they offer several benefits that could make them the preferred choice. Videos directly engage and involve users and are a medium used to share content across all types of social media platforms — such as Facebook and Instagram.

Video ads are for products or services that need more than a static image format. Videos are also great for demonstrating your product or service in action, providing value to the user and increasing engagement with your ads.

Carousel ads

Carousel ads are an excellent choice for businesses with multiple products or services to sell. Each ad will contain several images, which the user can swipe through. This feature allows you to showcase your product or service from different angles and highlight important features that differentiate it from competitors.

Since carousel ads are made up of several images, businesses will usually place them to target different user demographics. For example, the first image may be aimed at older audiences, while the last photo may be directed towards younger social media users.

Stories ads

Stories ads are a relatively new ad format, but they’ve become a major hit with social media users. Since most platforms now have the feature built-in, Stories allow businesses to quickly and easily create short videos or images that can be shared throughout a user’s feed.

This ad format is best for businesses that want to emphasize quick value with their product or service. It also lends itself well to promoting upcoming or ongoing sales, promotions or events.

Stories are best used sparingly because they have a short lifespan before disappearing forever. Like other forms of social media content, businesses should carefully curate the stories they post so that they don’t come off as spammy.

Paid social media advertising has become one of the most efficient ways to spread your brand’s message and showcase products and services. However, only those skilled in the field will have consistent success in this ever-growing arena. To stay on top of current trends and run up-to-date campaigns, it helps to have the right foundational knowledge so you can adapt to new marketing tactics.

How to run a paid social marketing campaign