July 30, 2016

by Alex Membrillo, CEO, Cardinal Web Solutions

Want to boggle your mind and impress your friends? Share with them this factoid:

More than 1 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook every minute, and the average user misses 70% of the feed. That doesn’t sound promising for your Facebook marketing strategy, does it?

Twitter, on the other hand, still retains its chronological newsfeed, which users think they like, but makes it nearly impossible for brands to reach their audiences.

At least, organically.

This isn’t just a downward trend – where organic social strategies are getting overshadowed due to sheer volume of content.

It’s a paradigm shift.

Now I’m not Chicken Little here, running around screaming that Organic Social Media is Dead! Organic Social Media is Dead!

I’m a bit less hyperbolic: organic social media isn’t dead. It’s just not as impactful today as paid social media is. If you want to get seen and noticed on platforms like Facebook, you have to be willing to invest.

I can hear the collective groans of budget-strapped organizations. Do we really have to start spending on social media? Is it really worth it?

Allow me to answer your questions: Yes.
And yes.

By next year, social media ad spend is slated to surpass $41 billion, meaning your competitors are investing in Facebook and the like. Their investments are robbing you of screen time with your audiences.

I know what you’re thinking now: Sure, but just because my competitors are doing something doesn’t mean I should.

True. Going against the grain is a fundamental precursor for disrupting the marketplace. But during Facebook’s Q1 2016 earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that users are spending more than 50 minutes each day across its apps.

If you subscribe to the adage go where your customers are, then doesn’t it make sense to invest in social media?

Don’t worry, you can still follow the herd – so to speak – by accepting that an organic approach can no longer drive your social strategy – while still going against the grain.

Let me show you how.

Get personal – target your posts to your audience

Email marketing continues to provide one of the most successful returns on investment for marketers. Why?

Personalization.

You can target your emails to audiences based on actions (or inaction), demographics, job title and more. When you segment readers into various lists, you can tailor your messages to speak to that audience.

The same goes for paid social media.

Let’s examine this by comparing an organic post vs. a paid post on Facebook.

Let’s say your business has a Facebook audience of 5,000 people. These 5,000 people could have “liked” your page for any number of reasons, including:

• A campaign you created
• A link on your website
• A blog post you published on a 3rd-party site
• From a related page they found on Facebook
• Because you convinced your friends and family to like the page (admit it)

Now let’s say that you publish a post promoting a sale that’s specific to a certain population of prospective customers. Great! Except, how many of those 5,000 followers actually fit the mold?
When you post organic content on Facebook, you have little control over who sees it, meaning your efforts could fall upon irrelevant ears (not to mention an organic post is confined to just your followers). With a paid strategy, you’re opening your post up to the entire Facebook community.

Of course, targeting an entire global community isn’t an effective marketing plan, which is why you can narrow down your audience (essentially creating little list segments) by choosing from a massive database of potential determinants (want to get your post in front of folks who just bought a car, moved, or got married? Great, you can! Facebook knows all.). This allows you to place your promotion directly into the news feeds of the people you want to see it and who are most likely to jump into action.

Retargeting – create a conversion funnel based on action

Personalization is the key to your social success, and remarketing to folks who’ve interacted with your content help you get downright personal.

Retargeting, which is only available through paid social strategies, allows you to target users with the most relevant possible content.

For example, let’s say you create a paid post promoting a How-to article you wrote on growing tomatoes in your backyard. Using the analytics made available through Facebook’s ad manager, you can target the users who read that article by promoting a new ad, pushing an eBook: The Complete Guide to Transforming Your Backyard into a Garden Paradise.

You’ve now just pushed your readers further down the conversion funnel.

Paid social media gives you tremendous insight into the actions your audience takes, so that you can remarket to them with not only relevant content, but content designed to get them closer to a conversion.

You know how to get personal. Now you have to get creative

At the core of a good paid campaign is the ability to personalize your message. But just because you think you’ve tailored your message to your narrowed audience, doesn’t mean you’ve actually succeeded.

I’m reminded of an article by Erin Sagin at WordStream, where she highlights 8 Super Creative, Crazy Effective Display Ad Ideas.

While the focus is on display ads, the message is translatable to social.

Within her article, Sagin shares two ad examples from one of WordStream’s clients. The first ad shows a stock-photo image of a generic female doctor, with the headline:

Healthy Weight Loss Solutions from Medical Professionals.

Not very personal, and not very effective.

The WordStream team decided to target a male-only audience for the revamped campaign. Smaller population, but the ability to get personal. They replaced the generic doctor with the unsightly profile of a bare, protruding male belly. This time, their headline read:

Size Does Matter.

The latter ad yielded a 47% higher CTR than the original ad. In other words, now that you know how to target a narrowed audience, make sure you deliver with your messaging.

Use the tools social platforms give you
When it comes to creativity, also consider the tools at your disposal. Both Instagram and Facebook give marketers the ability to use carousel ads to promote their goods and services.

Use these tools to their full capacity, the way Tieks by Gavrieli has. For example, let’s say you only sell one product (as Tieks does). You might not think the carousel format works for you.

Try again.

Tieks used the multiple-image layout to highlight their only product – women’s flats. Each tile card focuses on, and highlights, a different feature of the shoe. Not only that, but the company’s use of a woman’s hand (which appears to be dragging her fingers to zoom in to the shoe’s image) encourages readers to do the same.

Brilliance and worth checking out.

Try not to forget about storytelling

Whether it’s on a billboard, in a magazine, on a webpage, or on social media. I find myself inundated with advertisements that lack creativity and fail to engage.

The very notion of social media is about storytelling, conversation, and engagement. Just because you’re putting dollars behind your messaging doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the story.

With the tools and data that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter now offer to marketers, there’s no reason why you can’t develop a highly targeted ad, that reaches a highly motivated audience, and captures their attention. But, you’re going to have to pay to play.

About the Author

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, an award winning multi-local digital marketing agency based in Atlanta, GA. Named Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)’s 2015 Digital Marketer of the Year, his innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. Cardinal has been 3-time consecutively named on Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies. Visit www.CardinalWebSolutions.com to find out more about Cardinal Web Solutions. Follow him on Twitter @Alex_Membrillo

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