Social media advertising doesn't exactly work like advertising anywhere else. What you're really doing with a social media ad is engaging a potential market around your product. So what do you need to understand about social media marketing to create a successful ad?
I learned a lot while running an ad for the product I invented, WaveHooksTM, modular 3D printed plastic hooks and accessories to vertically organize a space. I found that to be effective on social media, your ad should be shareable, memorable and, if at all possible, funny. Keep the ad clean and simple, with a strong image. Think about the things you encounter on social media and what you respond to. What would make you tag your friends or share? Keep in mind that your initial goal here is for people to have a conversation around your ad. Avoid using terms such as “Buy now” and “Share with your friends.” Instead, include a link to your website—think of your website as the key element to converting conversation around your ad into actual sales.
The more organic the ad, the more organic the response to it. My ad had a 25 percent organic reach—of every 20 people who saw it, five saw it because someone shared it with them. Organic reach is something you don’t tend to see with classic advertising; if you see a TV commercial you like, you don’t record it and send it to someone you think would like it. In fact, the classic advertising value represents only a fraction of the value social media provides for advancing your brand. The real value of social media advertising is in seeing the comments of your customers. Unfettered honest feedback will allow you to very quickly do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis specific to your product in real time in the real market.
By analyzing potential customers' organic responses to your social media ad, you can accomplish several goals simultaneously. First, you'll build your brand in a really compelling way. My customers re-engage with new product offerings and are constantly sharing their experiences with the product. By providing their feedback, even if it was a passing remark they typed into their phones while commuting, they had buy-in. Second, customers can see each other interacting with the brand and posting content of them using the product, which drives further brand engagement. Third, you gain the value of knowing specific demographics for your customers. Finally and most importantly, my product brand was shaped around what people were saying and how they were saying it, with no focus groups or market research needed.
Listen to Your Customers
Gone were the days of being sick with worry after spending thousands on a marketing campaign that may or may not work or waiting for a sales report a month after launching a campaign. I could put an ad together in 10 minutes, test it in a limited and highly focused way and immediately see if the market responded. In the case of WaveHooksTM, it was clear from the comments that people were purchasing the product to give as a gift. Seeing that, I centered production schedules and advertising budgets around gifting holidays such as Christmas. I also found out that people were traveling with the product and then storing it away when they weren't using it. Making the product collapsible was an important value factor for my customers and I now highlight that as a key feature.
Inviting your customers to engage with your brand allows for a transparent and honest experience for you and your customers and, fortunately, is something that small businesses can often master more easily than large corporate brands in the market.
Reply to the Market
When you put your ad out on social media—paying $50 to run it on a Thursday, for example—and it has no shares, likes or engagement, you know there's a problem with the ad. You should be watching very closely how readers interact with your ad. If your ad has a high organic reach, it has the potential to go viral, so you should be ready to quickly scale production and distribution to meet demand. If people are saying negative things about your product, you can quickly respond by changing the ad or product, or even decide to take a totally different direction.
Dictating to the market is extremely expensive and difficult to do. Trying out new ideas by introducing social media advertising, analyzing the response and responding to it is a low-overhead, clear and easy way to build a brand, design a product and introduce it to the market.
Following this very basic structure proved incredibly effective for my business. If you're introducing a product to the market, that's the strongest testimony I can offer you: I tried this, and it worked.
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