Although I’m a social media marketer, I have to say, I rarely advise clients towards advertising. Usually there’s a lot of work to be done simply building up their social media presence towards genuine engagement, and that’s a major task in itself.
A recent project I ran for one of the UK’s leading product development companies involved training them up to use Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs effectively over a period of months – and I’m pleased to say they’re now getting results (i.e. customers) naturally on the strength of their own content and engagement.
Who’s to say though, that they wouldn’t have been better spending a couple of thousand pounds on LinkedIn advertising? They’ve spent far more than that on my time and theirs, and even when they get a lead – there’s always the issue of tracking. Did it genuinely come from their social media engagement? (I often talk about a “spiral sales path” in social media). The question is: do high-value customers respond to ads? Even highly-targeted ads pushed to them by popular sites like LinkedIn or Viadeo?
Next month I’m going to be confronting these questions – along with 200 other marketers – at Social Media Advertising (London), but I’m already pretty sure where I sit on they key issues. In fact, I’ll probably just refer to a 2008 post from Dana Lason from PostRank in which she sets out the 4 things you need to do to integrate social media advertising into your social media marketing:
- Understand your targeted social media channel
- Target the correct users with your message
- Ensure the advertisements are supplementing the present content on the social site
- Have a social networking presence
This covers the two obvious targeting issues: get the right network and target the right users; and then tackles the issue of integration: connect your adverts to your social media presence and engage with the people visiting/connecting with you. I’ve heard of social media consultants running Facebook ads that, instead of linking to their landing page, links directly to a Facebook Page (or Group). This chimes with Dana’s last two points and also makes a lot of sense – the ad-clicker is already signed into Facebook so they can take action simply by clicking that they “Like” the page. No landing page could get that result in fewer clicks.
Nielsen and Facebook recently teamed up to create an “independent” report which highlighted the value of combining “social” with advertising. Unsurprisingly, people responded better to adverts that told them which of their connections “Liked” the company whose advert they were viewing (see the ads they were shown, above).
These are all pretty obvious points, but the integration of social media and advertising is only just starting and there’s a long, long way to go. Trials of promoted Tweets – which have a genuine “social dimension” to them – are taking place in the US, and companies like SkimLinks in the UK are blurring the boundaries between what Brian Solis calls “paid” and “earned” media. I look forward to digging further into this on 20th Sept. and, rest assured, I’ll be posting the outcomes here.
Join me at Social Media Advertising (London) – 20th Sept. 2010