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Best practices for advertising in social media

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 04 Jun, 2014
Essential Essential topic

Are you missing out through not advertising in social media to ensure content success with Paid Social Amplification?

In our industry, good content is invaluable. But good content is also hard work.

From planning to Quality Contro, content must be researched, nurtured, analyzed, and improved on an ongoing basis to make it as suitable as possible for your target audience. But if no one is finding your content, then regardless of the quality, it won't have an impact on your business's bottom line. This is where paid amplification comes into play.

[Editor's note: The Smart Insights research report on Managing Digital Marketing in 2014 showed that many businesses are looking to increase their paid advertising on social media this year, so we hope these tips on how to do this are helpful]


Pushing targeted eyeballs to quality content is something our team has had success with, so below I have shared some of the things we've learned from our experience.

Amplification steps

  • Defining objectives

Before you dive straight in to your amplification plan, you will need to outline your key marketing objectives and then set goals on how you’re going to accomplish them. For example, you might be looking to increase your social shares, amp up your inbound leads, or drive more traffic to your owned media properties. This needs to be defined before any further decisions are made.

Once these have been agreed upon, you then need to decide which social channel or channels to leverage in order to reach and engage your desired target audience.

  • Facebook

You may have heard horror stories recently about the eradication of brand reach on Facebook; but these issues are limited to organic reach, and actually play into the hands of those with paid budgets at their disposal.

There are two effective ways of promoting your content through the Facebook ads system. Depending on your goals you can either choose 1. page post engagement or 2. clicks to website.

  •  1. Page post engagement: This method helps amplify content that you have already posted on your page. It's a good way of creating a social buzz, and will increase the likelihood of the post getting a large number of likes, comments, and shares. Furthermore, with Facebook’s targeting tools, you can be really specific on who among your followers will see this content.

In terms of setting goals, however, I would recommend this technique for goals like increasing reach or impressions as a gauge metric. Setting 'eyeballs' as a goal is more effective because no matter how good the content you can’t guarantee engagements.

So, let’s say you’ve decided that you want your content to get 50,000 impressions rather than a number of engagements. What happens when you reach your impressions (or reach) goal and your engagement rate is through the roof? If your content registers a strong engagement rate then push your amplification further because it’s clear that your audience and people who are seeing your content are reacting well to it.

  •  2. Clicks to website: This is a way of getting people to land on your page through a clear call-to-action button, which serves many potential content goals. This avenue is invaluable for resources such as eBooks and feature blog posts.

In addition, by using a link shortener, such as bitly, as the URL the ad is based around you will be able to track the number of clicks the advert has had – meaning that you can set a goal of clicks. If your target is 500 clicks, you would keep the advert going until this is met. To then work out the cost of each click you would divide your total spend by the amount of clicks the advert generated.

But how do you get the best value for money? If you are trying to get people interested in your content you can target related keywords and pages. To keep costs down but your ad still targeted you should approach this like you would a Google Adwords campaign.

Try and avoid the most generic terms and pages that relate to your content.

For example, if your content is on motorsports then choose pages or interests that are related but aren’t necessarily obvious, like public figures James May, Richard Hammond, and Ayrton Senna, or movies like the Fast and Furious franchise.

brand equation

If your content is more suited for remarketing or people who are your established demographic then a bit of Facebook mining can really open your eyes to which pages, brands or interests to target.

The equation shown allows you to establish what percentage of the people who like your page also like another brand or interest. When you have established this you can use related pages and interests to help optimise your amplification by using the same methods as previously explained.

  •  Twitter

Twitter Ads used to be an exclusive club, only available to those who could afford the minimum spend that bought you access to an account manager. It was out of reach for most businesses. Thankfully that has now changed with the launch of the self-service feature. Twitter is now available to the masses and your content can be amplified no matter what your budget.

To amplify your content on Twitter, you will need to launch a Promoted Tweets campaign. Here you will be able to select a tweet for amplification, much like Facebook’s Page Post Engagements feature, or you can create a new tweet featuring your content.

To ensure that you are reaching the right people you will need to be targeting the right people. These targeting metrics aren’t as specific as Facebook and are split into the following four areas:

  • Keywords
  • Interests and followers
  • Television
  • Tailored Audiences

Firstly, I will walk you through keyword targeting. It’s as simple as it sounds; you input keywords and Twitter will aim your campaign at accounts that relate to that keyword either in their tweets or bio. So, for example, if you wanted to target Manchester United fans you might want to use the keywords Man Utd, Man U, #MUFC etc.

If you set up an interests and followers campaign you will be targeting exactly that. Twitter suggests interests through its categories feature but also allows you to be more specific.

Now, for me, this is where this targeting avenue falls down. You can input @usernames of people and influencers relevant to your content but it targets people similar to that user’s followers.

So you will be targeting people who are interested in your content but there is no guarantee that people similar will be as well.

To reduce the risk using this method, I would recommend conducting comprehensive research into how you choose influencers. I recommend tools such as Followerwonk to find this information.

Targeting by television is really useful if you have content relevant to a popular television show or event. Twitter has the TV guide’s information stored into its targeting so finding the relevant shows is simple. This method of targeting is for content that will have maximum impact during the show’s broadcast because this is when the conversation about the show will be at its loudest. For this reason the longevity of this method is not as strong as the others.

Tailored audiences campaigns are essentially remarketing to those who already have an affinity with, or showed interest in, your brand. This is because you will have to upload an email list to Twitter’s server and it will then target your content to the recognised emails’ Twitter accounts. This way of amplification will be more useful for content to encourage repeat purchases or to improve customer loyalty.

Once you have decided the right targeting method for your content you will need to set up the tweet to achieve maximum potential and cost efficiency. A recent study by Twitter found that tweets including an image were 35% more likely to be retweeted than those featuring other types of content, such as a video URL or a hashtag.

To optimise your Twitter amplification, I would suggest reviewing the success of your targeting when your ad has been running long enough to give you an indication of how it is doing. Whether you have chosen to target through keywords, interests, @usernames or television programmes, Twitter allows you to measure the success of each of those.

Twitter Amp SS

So, for example, if you have targeted followers of ten @usernames you can see which ones are giving you the best value, whether it’s cost per impression or engagement.

Once you have established which ones are most profitable, you can replace the less profitable @usernames with ones similar to these optimised ones and to reduce your overall spend on your amplification.

So if your ad had a low cost per impression or engagement with the Guardian then you should consider including The Telegraph or The Independent. If you repeat this method throughout the length of the amplification you can ensure you are keeping your ad fresh and optimised. 

  • LinkedIn

If your content is more appropriate for a professional audience then LinkedIn offers that exact alternative. These are called Sponsored Updates and you can target LinkedIn members through companies they are connected with, their industry or their job titles. Moreover, if your content is more suitable for senior professionals you can also target by seniority.

LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates work on a CPC basis. This refers to a click on the company name, logo or content. With this being the case you need to make sure the content is the most appealing out of those three. It is important to note that social interaction, such as likes, comments and shares, won’t contribute to the cost of the sponsored update.

When setting up your Sponsored Update it is important to be resourceful on LinkedIn. You are targeting these people because they are professionals so offer them something that will benefit their careers or be useful for how they approach their professional life. Include compelling and relevant imagery.

LinkedIn Amp SS

To optimise your Sponsored Update, it is important to keep your amplification organised. Because of the limited targeting system on LinkedIn, I would recommend running three or four separate ads which feature different targeting sets, this will enable you to judge their success.

If you can see a marked difference in success and value in different ads then I would suggest shifting your focus and budget onto this more optimised amplification ad set.

What’s to come?

Both visual social juggernauts, Instagram and Pinterest, have been testing ads over the past year but only marquee brands, such as Levi’s, have had the pleasure of being the guinea pigs. If they both follow Facebook and Twitter’s footsteps, once they’ve perfected their advertising system, expect a self-service feature to become available in the near future.

Amplification Checklist

Now you have considered the above information, here’s a handy checklist to aid you during your social amplification:

  • Outline your objective
  • Set goals on how to achieve your objective
  • Recognise which channel or channels would best suit your niche
  • Decide which type of ad suits you
  • Test and refresh your ads to ensure cost efficiency


So now you should be aware of the options and capabilities of social amplification. You’ve worked hard on your content, hard enough for you to be proud of it. Showcase it in all its glory by creating a social amplification strategy so you can get all the rewards your effort deserves.



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By Expert commentator

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