“Advertising?” you might ask, incredulously, after reading the title. “That’s old news! Social media! Content is king, etcetera, etcetera!” Okay, I understand where you’re coming from. The internet is filled to the brim with people with terrible attention spans who won’t give ads even a second of their attention. And, with all of the blog posts coming out to say how blogging is so much more valuable than advertising of any sort, it’s easy to forget that the writer might be trying to justify the work to him or herself.
The biggest strength that you can have in marketing is to be dynamic. Roll with the punches, go pioneering, and find out what works for you. It all boils down to a return on investment—whether your marketing strategy is actually doing any selling for you. And remember, hiring a blogger costs money, too (and even if you do it yourself, it costs you your time).
Now, strictly speaking, advertising appears in a huge number of media. Search engines, video, other blogs, and many other sites have their own forms of advertising. I’ll narrow down the field here to some of the top social media platforms, judged by US traffic. Since content building, social media, and interacting with your audience are all hot topics (and, truthfully, very valuable), here are five social media networks that you should consider advertising on.
Lots of users are: browsing from school.
Fewer users are: 65 and older.
Ad Product: Facebook Ads.
Facebook is the behemoth of social media networks. Its audience is basically everyone in the known universe. That means you can reach everyone you want to—but be careful. This is not a direct marketing opportunity. People are on Facebook to establish and shape their reputation and identity. That means that you’re not likely to sell them something that they couldn’t impress their friends with. The safer bet isn’t to sell anything—it’s to get people interested in following you.
If you’ve got a brand that’s so great that people are blogging about you, posting videos about you, or buying merchandise from you, then you should really think about putting together a Facebook campaign. Wrangle up all of the people who should know about you but don’t yet, and get them to like you and start serving them updates.
Facebook advertising allows you to serve messages to deep, deep niches, across multiple variable sets. You can target people by age, gender, education, and location, all at once. If you know your customer segment like the back of your hand, use Facebook Advertising to lead them to your website and start raking in the cash.
But if you’ve got an unsexy, utilitarian widget to sell, head on back to Google AdWords.
Lots of users are: browsing from school.
Fewer users are: 45 and older, don’t have a college education.
Ad Product: Promoted Accounts, Tweets, and Trends
Twitter is the collective pulse, the beating heart of the internet. It is the aggregator of memes and topics on a by-the-minute basis. That also means Twitter opens up opportunities for you to get your fifteen minutes of fame. Almost everyone is on Twitter, unless they’re middle-aged or haven’t been to college.
The rapidity of topic change on Twitter is both a strength and a threat. If you’ve got a clear story to tell, think about getting something promoted. A promoted tweet means that you get 140 characters worth top billing on a topic that people are searching for. Promoted accounts will get you exposure to people who will care what you have to say—which is especially important if you’ve got a big event coming up like a product release. A promoted tweet can target people in a geographic area or who are searching for a term. Do you serve a certain location? IS your brand synonymous with a specific term? A promoted tweet might be the way to go.
Lots of users are: well educated—most have completed college or have gone through some graduate school, browsing from work, have a slightly higher income ($60k or more)
Fewer users are: 24 and younger, haven’t completed college, browsing from home or school, or have a low income ($30k or less)
Ad Product: LinkedIn Advertising
If there were an embodiment of the meme-phrase “the internet is serious business”, LinkedIn would be it. Most of the users on LinkedIn are super-valuable. They’re using it for building business relationships, demonstrating their own value and—let’s face it—lead generation. These people are well-educated, engaged with their careers, and mature. Decision makers abound on this platform, and all of the slackers and entry-level employees self-select out.
LinkedIn is a great place for business-to-business sales and marketing to people who understand their own value. If you have a product or service that you can very clearly demonstrate to put more money in their pockets or free up resources, then LinkedIn might be the place for you. Their pay-per-click advertising model can have really great ROI, and you can target people based on the jobs they work at. Sneak in and get the attention of founders, owners, partners, and the C-suite. Expose your brand to Fortune 500 companies or mom-and-pop operations.
Lots of users are: 34 and younger, in or completed an undergrad program, male, childless, browsing from home or school
Fewer users are: 35 and older, have graduate degrees, female, have children, browse from work
Ad Product: Reddit Advertising
Reddit is the self-proclaimed front page of the internet. It essentially acts as an aggregating focal point for everything awesome that the internet has to offer, all presented in a meritocratic upvote-downvote system. These people prefer to have the internet come to them, then they dissect it, discuss it, and decide if it’s worth having around. They’re early adopters, content generators, and well-connected online. If they like the content enough, they often have the means to anoint it and promote it organically on other systems, like Facebook or Twitter.
Expect the average Redditor to be a male in his thirties or younger. He’s got some experience in an undergrad program, no children to worry about, and is killing time on Reddit at home or school. Don’t underestimate the draw—for many users, Reddit is just the same as a chemically addictive substance. They should have recovery clinics.
Your advertisement on Reddit gets the coveted place: #1, the very top of the list. That’s the great news! The challenge is, does it fit? Ads that don’t seem to add anything to the experience (or, worse, interrupt it) will stick out like a sore thumb. But ads that fit with the rest of the content can be very successful. Your task is to become a redditor, understand what they like and want and then serve it back to them. Use memes: Shut Up And Take My Money is tailor-made for commerce—and that’s why it’s overused, so be more creative. Remember that these users are early adopters, will spread the word about good products, and many are in the coveted 18-35 year old male age range.
Lots of users are: 24 and younger, are in an undergrad program or completed some college, female, childless, browse from home
Fewer users are: between the ages of 35-64, male, have children, browse from school or work.
Ad Product: Paid Discovery.
“Reddit’s great,” says the StumbleUpon user, “but it’s too involved.” Where Reddit has conversation and the merit of the idea at the forefront of the platform, StumbleUpon is a needle full of new going straight into your bloodstream. StumbleUpon users are early adopters and seek the things that they value. They have the opportunity to select taxonomically defined categories of content, and then they sit back and make yes-or-no decisions about whether or not the page is worth their interest. They have short attention spans, sure, but if you can catch their eye, you’ll have it made.
You know all of that great content that you’re already making? Put that on StumbleUpon’s paid discovery. Start by choosing the categories that you fit in to, and then narrow down with other factors like geographic location. One in twenty of their stumbles goes to someone like you, who’s already paid for the spot. If they like you, you’ll get like and you’ll be in their system organically.
Adding In Ads
It’s important to note: not every ad campaign is going to work. It helps to have someone available who can experiment and put in the effort to isolate factors for success. Maybe certain networks will work, maybe they won’t, and maybe they need tweaking. If you’re looking for help in navigating all of the factors, checkout our social media marketing services or contact us directly. But if you have any questions, comments, or stories about your ad campaigns, add to the discussion and put them in the comments below!