Pew Research Center published findings earlier this year that—to no surprise—social media use among adults in the United States is rising. So in the never-ending quest for the most personalized user experience, it’s a no-brainer that companies should have social media accounts to connect with their customers. But what about paid advertising on social channels? Since social accounts are free for everyone, is it worthwhile to invest in paid social ads?
If you’re looking to increase lead generation and target a highly specific audience, the answer is yes, it is more than worthwhile to invest in paid social ads. Social media ad managers have plenty of customizable options to get the right ad to the right audience at the right time.
Social advertisements have also adopted, across multiple channels, a native appearance in users’ news feeds. This means they’re hard to block with web browser add-ons like the Chrome Extension, AdBlock. And since a lot of paid social ads have the same appearance of regular posts to the channel, they’re easy to create and less interruptive than, say, banner ads.
Social advertising will increase in necessity for B2B companies as more and more Millennials enter decision-making positions and Gen Z makes its way into the workforce. The highest percentage of social media usage by age for each channel reported by Pew Research was 18-29, followed by 30-49 (reminder that the oldest Millennials turn 38 in 2018).
Where is your paid advertising budget best spent on social? Here are the five top contenders based on usage by U.S. adults reported in Pew Research’s findings.
Companies who use video in their digital marketing strategy increase revenue 49% faster than companies who don’t. And considering 73% of adults in the U.S. site YouTube as a social channel they use—45% of which use it daily—there’s no reason not to use video.
YouTube has several options for video ads, but there are also options like suggestion card sand overlays that can appear on videos where the ad content is relevant.
- TrueView In-Stream: These advertisements play before or during a video and are skippable after 5 seconds. Because they’re skippable, they can be any length. However, we’d suggest keeping them pretty short to keep viewers’ attention. A 3-minute ad (or a 6-minute ad—yikes!) could show up before a video of equal or lesser length, meaning a viewer expecting to invest 3 minutes of their time into their chosen content would have to be awfully engaged by an ad to invest double that time. In-Stream ads are pay-per-view, with one view counting as a when a viewer watches at least 30 seconds (or the entire advertisement, if it’s less than 30 seconds).
- TrueView Display: These advertisements appear as sponsored content at the top of YouTube’s suggestions feed (the right side on desktop, the bottom on mobile). Turn any one of your company’s YouTube videos into a sponsored display advertisement—like a new product launch.
- Pre-roll: Pre-roll ads are non-skippable content with a maximum of 15 to 20 seconds (depending on regional standards). These ads are pay-per-click and generally cheaper than In-Stream ads. And because they’re short, they’re more likely to be run than In-Stream.
- Bumper: Non-skippable content with a maximum of 6 seconds. This short-form ad is good for raising brand awareness, but not necessarily promoting a specific product or service.
- Overlays: Overlays are semi-transparent advertisements that appear at the bottom of a video as it plays, taking up 20% of the video player. They can also be closed out of by the viewer.
- Suggestion Cards: These ads appear on the right side of a video and are often related to products featured within the video.
Non-video advertisements on YouTube seem like they might only be useful to B2C industries like health and beauty where makeup tutorials are endless—but there’s a YouTube channel for nearly everything. There’s at least a few active channels on YouTube related to your product’s niche market.
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Facebook advertisements don’t have quite the same laser-focused targeting capabilities as some of other channels (we’ll discuss those in a bit), but considering 68% of adults in the U.S. have a Facebook account and 74% of those users check it daily, it’s still a wise investment.
Even though precise targeting options are limited, Facebook still offers over thousands of interest topics to target ads with. Additionally, their ads appear within the newsfeed like a regular post, right in front of your audience.
- Video/Image: Use eye-catching video or images to engage users with your brand.
- Carousel: Up to 10 unique images or videos a user can scroll through, each with its own unique link
- Collection: A selection from your product catalog displayed as a carousel and customized to each user based on behavior
- Slideshow: Video-like format that is quick and simple to make within the Facebook ad manager. This format also loads and plays well on any connection speed.
- Instant Experience: When a user engages with this kind of ad, a full screen experience begins where users interact directly with the content—and it’s optimized for mobile.
- Lead Generation: A lead form follows advertisements that users engage with.
- Offers: Offer a discount or special promotion, and Facebook can send reminders to those who claim the offer to encourage them to use it before it expires.
- Boosted Content: Is there a post doing particularly well on your company’s Facebook page? Boost it to receive more engagement with the post. This is a low-cost option (~$20 per boost) to increase engagement with your brand on social using content that’s already successful with your followers.
That’s right, Instagram has more users than Twitter. 35% of U.S. adults use Instagram, with 60% of those users checking it daily.
Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, Instagram ads are managed through the Facebook ad manager. Their ads are also natively displayed within the feed, and many types have the same features as Facebook ads, such as video, image, and carousel ads. They can be targeted by basic demographics like age, gender, and location. Depending on the type of ad, a call-to-action (Shop Now, Download Now, ect.) can be added at the bottom of the image.
Instagram also offers a unique advertising opportunity in their Stories feature. These ads show between stories users are already viewing (instead of in the middle of a story like some SnapChat advertisements). They also have access to all the text overlay and filter features of a regular user story, which makes them easy to produce and easy to create relatable, platform-appropriate content.
LinkedIn just barely edges out Twitter for the fourth spot with 25% of U.S. adults saying they have a LinkedIn profile. But as user count goes down—targeting opportunity goes up.
LinkedIn is an exceptional platform for B2B account-based marketing. In addition to sponsored posts (similar to Facebook’s boosted posts), LinkedIn offers sponsored InMail, which can be targeted directly to your ideal customers. Sponsored InMail only goes to active users, too, so you never have to worry about a message bouncing.
LinkedIn also offers a pay-per-click option with small, sidebar text ads. Their extensive targeting tools make sure these small ads reach the right audience.
Only 24% of U.S. adults say they have a Twitter account, but it’s smaller user base gives marketers an advantage with paid social ads: they’re relatively cheap (sometimes keywords cost only pennies per click).
Twitter arguably has the most precise targeting tools in their ad manager. Check out some of these fancy targeting options:
- Pay-per-performance: No matter what ad format you choose, you only pay when the marketing objective is met. This means you’re paying for what works and makes Twitter a good place to experiment with ad types. What content that is engaging to users on Twitter could be moved to other larger social channels later—and what flops isn’t costly.
- Keyword Targeting: Target users who have used or engaged with a tweet containing a specific hashtag in the last seven days. If you’ve done your keyword research, you can target the people who are looking right now for the solutions your company has.
- Tweet Engager Targeting: Remarket content to users who have previously engaged with your tweets. You have control over which tweets from which campaign to remarket.
- Tailored Audiences: This one will take a little more work to develop, but you can create lists of Twitter users who are following certain accounts. The biggest advantage of this? You only need a user’s Twitter handle to access this information (for public profiles). Target specific tweets to users based on who they follow.
Several of these features are especially useful to account based marketing and getting in front of the decision makers at those target accounts.
Social ads are increasingly important as social media use rises. Chances are, there’s a channel your ideal customers are not only using, but checking multiple times a day. You can connect with them with the right ad at the right time—in the right place.
Interested in boosting your paid digital advertising strategy to increase lead generation? Click below to schedule a free growth consultation with ManoByte!