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No-Panic Guide to Social Media

— Choosing the Right Social Media Platform —

Choosing a social media platform is like choosing toppings for a cake. You have so many options to choose from, and it can be overwhelming if you don't have some guidelines to help you narrow down your choices.

Our social media marketers spend every day researching social media platforms so you don’t have to. We know what does and doesn’t get results for businesses like yours, and we coach our clients on how to use the right social media the right way.

In our social media flowchart, we give away a bit of our expertise!

You can download our free printable, and in less than 5 minutes, you'll know exactly which social media platform is worth your time and budget.

Page 1 is for business-to-business companies, and page 2 is for business-to-consumer companies. Then answer the questions to find the best match(es) for your specific type of work and your target audience.

Now that you know what decorations to use, let's talk about how to make them shine! Instead of overloading you with information about every platform, use the links to our blog posts to find tips specific to your ideal platform.

— Advertising on Social Media —

When Esultants started in 1999, we built single-page websites with a contact form that would fax customer information to our clients' businesses.

At the time, any type of digital marketing was on the cutting edge of advertising. Today, those sites would be completely ineffective.

Just as simple websites superseded ads in the yellow pages, social media is revolutionizing how consumers interact and shop online. Ads are a way for businesses to enter the social media space to reach specific online audiences with their brand's products and services, like a digital billboard along a customer’s commute.

In this article, we’ll discuss why paid social media ads are important, which businesses benefit most from social media ads, and how you can get started.

Why are paid social media ads important?

Social media has two categories for reach: Organic and paid. Organic reach is how many people see your content without any money behind it. Paid reach is how many people see your content because of advertising. In the early days of social media, high-quality content was all you needed for a high organic reach. But today, organic reach is getting harder for brands to achieve for two reasons:

1. More businesses are on social media, which means more competition. Social media has been around for over a decade now, and the majority of the US population has some kind of social media profile. As more and more businesses follow their customers to their favorite platforms, over-crowding makes it hard for you to connect with your customers.

2. Social media platforms are prioritizing content from family and friends over brand content. As it turns out, social media users didn’t love brands invading the online space where they interacted with friends. To keep users from deactivating their accounts, major social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram changed their algorithms to prioritize content from users' friends and family. As a result, businesses were pushed into buying ads to stay in the feed.

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Not sure which social media site to use? We designed a flowchart to help you find out!

Download the Flowchart

This doesn’t mean you can’t get results on social media without advertising. Last month, we had a client reach over 6,000 people without spending a single dollar on advertising (more about the power of social media giveaways here).

However, a complete social media marketing plan should include some advertising to turn potential customers into loyal fans.

Which businesses benefit most from social media ads?

Any type of business can benefit from social media ads because all types of audiences are active on social media. However, social advertising will be different for each company.

For example, you need to decide which social media platform works best for your business. In nearly all cases, you will advertise on the social media sites where you are already active and successful.

Specific social media ad ideas based on industry:

In-Store or eCommerce Retail

If you do most of your sales in a physical store, you can target customers who live in a location or people recently near your business. Create an awareness ad with a "Get Directions" button or an offer/sale ad to get people in the door to see what other products you have to offer.

For eCommerce companies, you can link directly to the web pages for products, eliminating as many steps as possible for your potential customers.

Electrician, Plumber, Landscaper, or Mechanic

Create an audience of homeowners near your business, and offer them a deal on your services, such as $9 off an oil change or 25% off grass seed in the spring or fall. You can also create an awareness ad showing off your positive reviews with a professionally designed graphic.

Dentist, Hair Stylist, Chiropractor, Orthodontist, or Vet

Run ads to people who live near your location with special deals. Target a specific demographic group for each ad, such as college students or parents of young children, and build the ad around their specific needs.

Restaurants

You should be running different ads to people who are existing customers and those who are less familiar with your business.

For your current customers, try advertising deals on a favorite dish or promoting your lesser-known services such as event catering, party room rental, or live music events.

If you are trying to reach new customers, advertise the menu item that made you famous or promote an irresistible discount.

PRO TIP: Even if you want to reach new customers, create an audience of the friends of people who like your page or people who have visited your website so you aren’t marketing to a totally cold audience.

B2B

Businesses which market to other businesses need to think more long-term in their advertising. Typically, these products or services are more expensive and include a lasting relationship with the business. Your advertising should focus on building up trust first, and then selling only to those followers who have a loyalty to your brand.

To start, promote yourself as a resource. Answer a question or solve a problem through a blog post or video and boost that post to your targeted audience. Once you build an engaged following, you can start mentioning how your paid services or products can provide an even bette

How can you get started with social media advertising?

Before you spend any money on advertising, you need to be set up properly:

  1. Set up website tracking for your social media platforms. If you plan to do any social media ads in the future, it's best to set up your Facebook pixel, Twitter pixel, Pinterest tag, or LinkedIn tag as soon as possible so you can set up audiences based on website activity.
  2. Determine a goal for your advertising. Do you want to sell more of a specific product? Increase awareness of your business in the area? Build up your email list to nurture deeper relationships? You may have several big goals, but choosing just one for each ad allows you to optimize for that goal and to measure your success.
  3. Pick the audience you want to reach. Your goal will influence who sees your ad, but you need to specify exactly who your potential customers are. How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests?
    PRO TIP: Don’t count out your current customers as an audience. Serving ads to a "warm audience" yields the best results because these people have already shown an interest in your business.
  4. Setup the ad. This is where the real work begins. Depending on the type of ad you want to run, you will need one or all of the following:
    • A landing page with a lead form
    • Audiences setup in the social media platform
    • A freebie or offer to entice your audience
    • Ad copy and imagery
    • Spending budget
    • Promotion timeline

Who's going to be in charge of all this?

You can manage ads yourself or assign an employee to learn social media advertising, but it takes months of trial and error to start running successful ads consistently.

Another option is to hire an agency to create social ads for your business. When you go this route, you get the research and experience of an expert without spending the time or money on learning a new skill which you may never use again.

When Esultants runs a social media ad for a client, we always start with a client meeting to define the goal and audience for your ad. We offer tips if you need them, but we also realize that you know your business better than anyone and that we serve you best by listening first.

Then, with your goals and audience in mind, we create the ads and landing pages, manage your predetermined budget, and measure the campaign results for you.

If you are on one of our Online Marketing & Maintenance programs or would like to try out our social media services à la carte, contact our social media team for options.

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