Social Media Advertising

As eyeballs increasingly shift to social media, mega platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn are rapidly gaining share of advertising spend. According to eMarketer, ad spend on social is expected to hit $36B globally by 2017, up from an estimated $24B in 2015.

As mentioned earlier, social media platforms have considerable information about their users, information that can be effectively used to target consumers, and personalize advertising messages. These platforms are particularly effective in targeting consumers based on their interests or their connections. Targeting approaches such as custom/tailored audiences or lookalike audience also blend well with social channels. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn support most of these targeting options. (Details about these and other forms of targeting are covered in the section on “Targeting”, under the header “Digital Advertising Formats”).

Social platforms offer marketers a wide variety of options to advertise and engage with consumers. With Facebook for instance, in addition to the organic reach, advertisers can “boost” their posts to expand reach within their fan base, or they can choose from a vast range of other paid advertising options to finely target audiences. Many of these options are covered in the next section, “Facebook — Organic Reach, Boost and Paid Advertising”.

Twitter affords many options too. These include promoter tweets, trends, and promoted accounts that show up on users news feeds. And with YouTube advertisers may avail of branded channels (see section “YouTube Brand Channels”), promoted videos, and in video advertising.

Broadly speaking, social media ads are configured to serve one or more of the following objectives:

  • Drive traffic to websites and online stores
  • Drive traffic to physical retail outlets or events
  • Generate sales and leads
  • Install apps
  • Engender engagement, both behavioural (e.g. stimulate “likes”) and attitudinal (Cognitive/Affective)

Call-to-action buttons such as “buy”, “join”, “install” or “like” are frequently used in ads to trigger actions. For instance, users can click on a “buy” call-to-action to purchase an item from the marketer, without leaving the social media site.

Considering that click-through rates (CTRs) are low ranging below 2.0 clicks per thousand impressions for most markets, it is important to appreciate that these advertisements can also stimulate attitudinally engagement. As with conventional advertising, social media ads also generate salience, affinity, and feelings and emotions for the brand.

Social media marketing is primarily outbound in nature, and tends to interrupt users. It needs to be well directed, contained and managed so that users do not get overwhelmed with the content.

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