Have You Tried Social Media Advertising?

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We may well still be in the grip of an economic slump, with fewer job opportunities, less chance of getting a home loan and a general feeling of being down in the doldrums , so why is internet advertising thriving? And what has your small business done to grab a slice of the pie?

The official Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) report for the first quarter of the year was issued in the UK this week (the US one hasn’t yet been released). Staggering findings that £1 in every £4 spent on advertising is spent online. Internet advertising represents 25% of all advertising (trailing TV advertising by a mere 1%). Interestingly, the report’s date from independent firm Price Waterhouse Cooper also found Facebook has boosted online display advertising by 27.5% to £945 million.

An eMarketer digital intelligence forecast report also issued this week concurs. It predicts a $4 billion worldwide ad revenue for Facebook this year. It also sees a $150 million ad spend on Twitter and a global social media advertising income of almost $6 million by December 2011.

So the figures are in and social media advertising is where the action is in 2011. But which social media sites should you choose and how do you get started? The top two are undoubtedly Twitter and Facebook, so if you consider no other site, consider these two.

1.  Facebook

Facebook is the obvious place to start if you’re about to embark on a social media advertising campaign for the very first time. Regardless of whether or not you stand in the pro-Facebook camp and see it as a vital communication tool to engage with your client base or are anti-Facebook and unable to see the point of investing online marketing energy in what is basically a tool for teenagers, you do need to consider the site very thoroughly if you’re serious about social advertising.

If nothing else, the fact that Facebook is far and away expected to make the most money from social media advertising this year, you need to consider it just because all of your competitors will be.

Advantages

  • Easy access to around 500 million people
  • Location, age and interest targeting
  • Image and text based adverts plus split testing to see what works and what doesn’t
  • Cost per click and cost per display payment options

Disadvantages

  • Facebook advertising has been plagued by tales of low conversion rates. Some people really only do use Facebook to plan their weekends and chat to Friends. Experiences seem to vary widely per product and industry.
  • Some advertisers have reported higher cost per clicks than they would expect to pay on other platforms including AdWords. This is commonly mentioned in regards to very niche keywords.
  • Some users have complained that the ads they see on their Facebook pages are low quality and irrelevant leading to some concern over how effective the targeting options and quality thresholds are.

Getting Started

Depending on your spend, you can be a Premium advertiser, in which case the sales team will get you started or a Marketplace advertiser, in which case you set up your own campaign directly from the Facebook interface. There’s a detailed guide and video to talk you through each step, which emphasises the importance of setting goals and talks about the value of testing ads to see what works better.

2.  Twitter

Twitter advertising has been quite slow to get off the ground when you consider the sheer number of column inches and celebrity Twitter addicts the site has collected in the last 12 months. But it is expected to post a strong advertising revenue this year, meaning other companies in your industry are likely to give it a try. Even if you start with a small campaign to test the waters, Twitter is one of the main sites you should be considering for social media advertising.

Advantages

  • Twitter advertising is at first glance similar to TV product placement but with a lower price tag. You can feature a particular product, promote a particular tweet, a trend or an account.
  • The three levels of advertising make it easy to control costs and simple to try at the start of the scale (a promoted tweet) and then follow a logical path to increase ad expenditure (step up to a promoted trending topic or promoted account)
  • Analytics provide paid and unpaid intelligence, allowing you to compare whether or not it’s more effective to pay for Twitter space or simply continue with your regular free updates

Disadvantages

  • Making a tweet successful is hard work and a standard advertising message simply won’t cut it. A lot of extra work will have to go in to Twitter ads to make them successful, all within the 140 character limit
  • The most popular tweeters are those that are ones that consistent and one or two promotional messages are unlikely to do the trick. They need to be interspersed with real value added tweets that are not advertising driven

Getting Started

Twitter is founded on the very basis that you can say more with less, and this simple approach lends itself well to setting up an advertising account. Fill in a form, choose whether you want a promoted tweet, trending topic or account and away you go.

About the Author

Rebecca is the managing director of search engine optimization agency Dakota Digital a full-service agency offering SEO, online PR, web copywriting, media relationship management, and social media strategy. Rebecca works directly with each client to increase online visibility, brand profile, and search engine rankings. She has headed a number of international campaigns for large brands.

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