How to design a paid social media campaign

Marketing is about telling good stories. Social media marketing is about getting your customers to tell them for you.

— Corey Eridon

Social media has become a near-ubiquitous part of our lives. It has made communication, content creation and information sharing much easier, quicker, and more sustainable. These characteristics have made social media platforms an indispensable part of businesses’ online marketing strategy. A report published by Digital Information World found that Internet users globally spend an average of 142 minutes per day on social media and marketers have wisened up to this. According to Social Media Examiner, 94% of marketers incorporate Facebook social initiatives in their overall marketing plan. No matter how seemingly easy it is to promote businesses over social media platforms, beginners face many hurdles when they introduce their business. Setting the target audience, attracting the niche, capturing and sustaining attention, dealing with competition, pricing strategy, planning, and advertising are some of the most important things that small business owners have to plan properly before they take the plunge.

One of the most useful strategies to engage and attract audiences is to plan feasible paid media campaigns where they can invest thoughtfully and get positive and helpful outcomes. Furthermore, if investors are involved in the business, they need to see exponential growth. For this purpose, paid marketing and media campaigns have become an invaluable tool for businesses looking to make the most of their marketing efforts.

Here are the essential guidelines in designing paid social media campaigns.

Determine a Goal

Setting a SMART goal is essential for the beginning of the perfect paid media campaign. SMART here stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Setting a goal that adheres to all these attributes so that the owners know well how they are going to proceed with their campaign is vital. Goals are established to create a roadmap for the campaign.

A simple example of a SMART goal is that you have to sell 100 dresses in one week with a budget of $1000-1200 only. This sentence has all the attributes of an effective goal pursued to gain a position in the market. Or, at the end of this month, you wish to increase the traffic flow by 30% by spending $1000.

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is a form of digital that dominates social media. PPC is used to increase the traffic on the websites and the payment is made by the advertisers whenever their ad is clicked.

There are three ways that PPC can be done and these are methods used to evaluate how much advertising is costing a company:

1. Cost Per Click (CPC)

CPC refers to the actual price you pay for each click in your pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaigns. In a bidding auction, you set a maximum CPC bid, that is, the highest amount you are willing to pay for a click on your ad. Oftentimes, you are often charged less than your maximum cost-per-click bid, which is the most you’ll typically be charged for a click.

2. Cost Per Action (CPA)

CPA is also known on digital marketing channels other than Facebook as cost per conversion. This is the price you pay for each action a user takes on your website because of your ad. CPA is calculated as the advertising cost divided by the number of actions being measured. So for example, if the spend is $150 on a campaign and the actions attributed to this campaign is 10, this would give the campaign a cost per action of $15.

3. Cost Per 1,000 Impressions (CPM)

CPM is a common metric used by the digital advertising industry to assess the cost-effectiveness of an ad campaign. It’s often used to compare performance among different ad publishers and campaigns. CPM measures the total amount spent on an ad campaign, divided by impressions, multiplied by 1,000. (Example: If you spent $250 and got 8,000 impressions, your CPM was $31.25)

Target the Audience

No marketing strategy is complete if the owners do not specify which parts of the market they will target for their business.

There are specific categories in which you can break down your audience to make it easy for you to channel your advertising campaigns. There are three main targeting methods that advancements in PPC advertising accorded us: Demographics, Behavioural and Contextual targeting.

Demographic targeting is the most basic approach in targeting. It enables you to choose consumers based on age, race, gender, geographic location, occupation, salary, and other statistics. The rationale behind this is the observation that people who share demographic characteristics are likely to be motivated to buy or consume products or services and respond to advertising similarly.

An example of age and generation as a determinant of preferences, a survey published by Insider Intelligence states that 56% of Gen Zers, ages 16 to 24, prefer short-form social media platforms, with respondents claiming they had increased their use of Snapchat in the past year, and another 55% of respondents said they are using Instagram more.

On the other hand, Chron magazine reported that the average age of a Facebook user is 40.5, demonstrating how aging millennials (Gen Y) and Gen Xers prefer to consume longer-form social content.

Behavioural targeting is a method used by advertisers and publishers to display relevant ads and marketing messages to their audience based on web-browsing behaviour. This form of advertising relies on behaviour such as the amount of time spent on a website, pages visited, previous search terms used, ads, content, and buttons clicked, date of last visit and other interactions pertinent to their on-site interactions.

Contextual targeting is used for display advertising. Opposite to the approach of behavioural targeting that is user-focused, contextual targeting is a means of advertising content that is delivered based on the context of a particular page. In place of monitoring user activity, ad servers scan and categorise web pages so that there is a direct connection between the contents of a page and the content of an ad delivered. When a user visits a particular page, this sends a request to the ad server that matches the data accordingly. Relevant ad content is delivered to the intended audience but without the same dependence on personal data and user monitoring as behavioural targeting.

Refine Ad Formats & Design

The beauty of working with social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin, to name a few, is that you now have a variety of ad formats to experiment with to help you reach your marketing goals. Each of these formats has its unique strengths and depending on the nature of your product or service and the nature of the message you wish to convey, you can run tests on which platform or medium works best.

For example, if your business sells visually appealing consumer goods, you might want to use collection or carousel ads on Instagram and test their performance against static image ads or videos just to see which yields the most user engagement and conversions.

Once you have run the ads long enough to glean insights into your consumer’s buying behaviour, continually iterate and maintain responsiveness to these indicators.

Determine Promotional & Ad Budgets

After determining your objective, the audience you wish to target, and the paid media channels through which you will convey your marketing messages, it’s time to plan for your advertising costs.

Paid media on social channels behave just like a Google ad auction. Businesses bid for the best advertising positions on peoples’ social media feeds, on pages and in Stories. Should you win the auction, you pay that amount for each corresponding click, view, like, impression, message open, app install, etc that led to the ad conversion.

Different platforms charge differently for various ad formats and also have different minimum ad budgets you are required to spend daily. It is wise to map these expenses out in an organised fashion to stay on top of what is being spent for paid ad initiatives in their respective platforms. HubSpot provides marketing budget planning templates and is an invaluable resource for practitioners.

Compose, Promote, and Optimise

Now it is time for the gritty part. Social media platforms have their respective ad builders designed to make the ad creation process as intuitive as possible.

Get creative and keep your message concise while maintaining a natural tone geared towards inviting people to spend a few moments connecting with your brand and your message.

Maintaining a content calendar is also crucial to help steer your paid media messages along a coherent path. The ultimate end is to help you reach the determined goals of your business.

Once you have organised your goals, mapped out your content for their corresponding changes, and scheduled their deployment according to your marketing calendar, it is time to pull the trigger and let your ads out into the wild.

But this is hardly a set it and forget it endeavour. Paid media is a highly iterative process that requires close attention and adaptability on your part.

Optimising your campaigns according to consumer behaviour and dozens of other market signals and maximising the benefits of respective paid media platforms requires a commitment to continual learning on your part. Algorithms change and platforms roll out or discontinue features and functionalities over time.

Ready to take your business to the next level? Find out what our Social Media Marketers can do for you.

Go back to the blog

What to read next?

7 common bookkeeping errors and how to avoid them

How an SEO specialist can boost your online presence

Why technical support roles are crucial for your business