In 2014, Copyblogger did something that sent waves through the marketing community: they shut down their Facebook page. Copyblogger has been a key voice in the Wordpress and content marketing spheres for a while, and when they decided to get off Facebook it was just part of a larger trend within their company.
They had been evaluating resources, trying to figure out which platforms were going to be best for them moving forward. At the time, Twitter and Google+ were offering results that Facebook was not. They’ve since returned to Facebook, and the landscape of digital marketing has changed significantly since then, but the reason for their radical move still exists.
These days, organic social is harder than ever and ad spend has become far more crucial than it was at the time of Copyblogger’s move. None of us have infinite time, money or resources, much as we’d like to. No matter what your company does, you’re going to have to pick and choose what platforms to invest your effort in.
If you spend money wisely on the right social networks, it can supercharge your business. If you spend money indiscriminately, you’re weighing your business down. You need to know how to find the right social networks for your business …
So how do you find the right place to spend your advertising dollars, exactly?
Know Your Audience
When Copyblogger left Facebook, they didn’t just leave and replace it with nothing. Instead, they invested their resources in platforms where they had more traction. At the time, these platforms were Twitter and Google+.
Though they were more niche than Facebook was, when Copyblogger’s team dug into the numbers, they realized that those platforms were the ones driving their growth. They had active, engaged users, and those users wanted the content that Copyblogger put out.
By contrast, their Facebook page had built up a following of 38,000 fans, but the engagement was so low that it didn’t matter. CEO Brian Clark even brought in outside help to figure out what to do, and they tried several different creative strategies.
Even focusing on building up engagement didn’t produce much fruit—why?
Because their audience wasn’t there.
As Erika Napoletano wrote in the article explaining the decision, “It’s not our job to tell our audience where we live. It’s to grow communities where they live.” If you’re putting your ad spend into a platform where your audience doesn’t live, what does it matter how good your strategy is? You’ll never get good ROI from talking to an empty room.
Measure, Measure, Measure, etc.
As Content Marketing Institute discovered in a 2016 study, brands that document their social media strategies are more confident and more effective in making that strategy work.
That’s not rocket science, as any business major can quote the axiom, “What gets measured gets managed.” Even if you’re still spread across multiple platforms, you need to carefully consider how to prioritize your resources.
For social media you’re already comfortable with, dig deep into the analytics that you’ve built up over time. You already have a history to draw from. Take a look at your growth over time, and prioritize ROI, not just surface-level engagement numbers or followers.
If you have a lot of people clicking or tapping your ads but no one taking action, it’s time to take a second look. Is it your creative? Is it going to the wrong audience? Or is the platform even one that works for your business?
If you’re dipping your toe into the water on a new social media platform, you need to be doubly careful to measure your results. The carpenter’s phrase “measure twice, cut once” is just as applicable to social media. Don’t come in trying to make a big splash all at once—start small, then look at the results.
Slowly work your way up. Set low spend limits on your first few campaigns, and then once you get comfortable with the platform and feel confident you’re using it correctly, re-evaluate. Should you invest the effort? Is it worth it for your business? If you’re measuring every step of the way, you’ll have the answer you need.
Kill Your Darlings
“Kill your darlings” is a common phrase in writing circles, often attributed to Stephen King, who quoted it from William Faulkner. It means to get rid of your pet phrases and favorite bits when they don’t serve the interests of your audience.
In terms of your social media platforms, that means taking a long, hard look at what your ad spend is actually doing. Are you putting money into a platform because you think it should perform well, but it doesn’t? Are you spending money on a platform because you personally like it?
When you write, the easiest way to tell when someone’s suggesting you kill one of your darlings is the instant defensiveness that comes with it. You’re emotionally attached to that phrase, chapter or paragraph. The very same thing can happen in business.
Think with your head, not with your heart. Look at your analytics. Figure out which platforms are getting the best results—then either spend less on the ones that don’t or cut them loose entirely.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for choosing which social media platforms to use your ad spend on. Every business is different, and the audience and strategy that works for one may not work for another. But if you’re using industry best practices and good creative and still not seeing results, it may be time to decrease or stop your ad spend for that platform.
You’re not made of money or time, so you have to prioritize what works best for your business. Know your audience, measure everything, and cut loose any platforms that are underperforming.
Build out a laser-like focus on what works for you and don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Know yourself and know your customers. If you do that, you’ll be well on your way to success in every avenue of social media advertising.
-Featured Image, Pexels