Eleven years since Facebook was launched, social networks are finally reaching maturity in many markets and with maturity comes some serious earning potential.

Facebook currently demonstrates the future revenue model for every network. With all major brands actively building communities on the network, Facebook has progressively closed down organic audience reach “to reduce user’s timeline clutter” with brand content and now generally speaking, businesses need to pay to engage.

That’s going to mean an increasingly costly investment to stay engaged, but stopping social due to future media costs isn’t a serious option for brands. A recent report found that over 80% of the marketers saw social as an increasingly important place to find and convert customers, putting a brand’s social media focus on great engaging or valuable content – and the media investment required to make it fly.

We’ve put together this quick guide to social media advertising in the main social networks to help clarify what works best, in which channel to deliver what objective.

Facebook

Top line: The network has the most comprehensive offering for ads, feeding on the interactions of 890m daily users to enable business to accurately target practically any audience to achieve many objectives.

Key Benefits: The most effective ads you can buy in social media for driving convertible traffic – in volume. Well targeted, contextualised promoted posts can deliver exceptional click through rates. Combined with a good campaign mechanic they’re excellent for gathering data from genuine prospects and growing your community too.

If your goal is to drive traffic don’t expect users to engage for a long time on your website from a visit though. If you want brand engagement from a Facebook audience, you need to do this from the channel itself, creating quality content on the network and promoting posts for engagement there.

Ad types: There are 3 principle ad placements available on Facebook; Desktop Newsfeed, Mobile Newsfeed and Right Hand ads.  There are a wide range of ad units that work within these placements. The look and functionality of these varies based on your chosen objective. Ads targeting video plays or website clicks look different from like ads targeting community growth, or app installs.

Targeting: Facebook has really comprehensive demographic and contextual ad targeting options, which are its greatest strength. The network also enables advertisers to set up powerful custom audiences using their brand’s own email data. Once loaded, you can use the same data to create lookalike audiences who match your existing customer’s Facebook profile.

Social Media Advertising Guide

To sum up: Effective in delivering high quality convertible audiences. On top of strong results against key objectives, ads that support carefully contextualised content and campaigns also deliver great long tail benefits for brand awareness and familiarity, as long as audiences are kept inside Facebook.

Twitter

Top line: Despite recent poor sales figures and an initial resistance to commercialisation from its user base, Twitter’s 500m daily interactions give the network prime position for real time marketers with an increasingly sophisticated range of advertising products.

Key Benefits: Consistently one of the best ways to drive leads more cost effectively  than other networks, especially if you have a Twitter audience already engaged with your brand. Twitter cards are an excellent way to collect good quality data direct from the network and use it to drive highly targeted traffic to your website.

Website audiences driven from Twitter won’t convert as well as those from Facebook and won’t be as deeply engaged either, but they will be willing to hear more from you by email – with the right offer.

Ad types: Similar to Facebook. The prime ad units offered amplify native Twitter functionality with promoted tweets and ads that drive post engagement. But ads that drive follower growth, app installs and video views are also a prominent offering.

Promoted Tweets are set up either as posts you have already made that you want  to boost in a way that seems organic, or they can be set up especially as ads that don’t appear in your feed or search results, and carry website conversion tracking – in a very similar to the Facebook Promoted post option.

Follower Ads are set up and automatically optimised to drive users back to your own profile with a “follow us now” message to encourage new followers.

Apps & Video Ads are set up to drive specific objectives such as video play and app installs and can both be highly effective, especially on mobile. You can make your promoted tweets work much harder for you using Twitter cards.

Twitter cards are snippets of content including data capture, forms and pieces of web content, such as video or images that are pulled into individual tweets using code set up on your own website. You have complete flexibility in what you show people in association with any advert. For more on Twitter cards, click here…

Targeting: There’s a wide range of targeting options including location by country and area, broad and narrow matched keywords, @user profile names, your own data, languages and gender, along with platforms & devices. User experience is a key to the targeting decision you make on devices and platforms. For instance, only serve mobile ads if the content is really optimised for it. Stick to desktop ads if you have big long forms or detailed campaign copy on landing pages.

How To Advertise on Twitter

To sum up: Twitter ads already drive cost effective leads and with on-going developments will deliver more effective ways to convert and engage the great traffic it drives too.  Watch this space closely.

LinkedIn

Top line: With its substantial ownership of professional networking in most Western market places, LinkedIn provides a solid base for B2B awareness and recruitment advertising, though lead generation is still most successfully delivered by genuine organic networking and engagement.

Key Benefits: Quality traffic to your website and the most engaged users of any of the “Big 3” social networks when they arrive. Conversion isn’t as strong from paid media as it is from earned, but sponsored updates drive good brand engagement with organic posts and standard ad units can deliver excellent returns for recruitment.

Ad types: There are two main types of ads available to book on LinkedIn.

Sponsored Updates are set up very similarly to Twitter’s promoted tweets and are posts you have already made to your timeline boosted to deliver impact that feels organic. Direct Sponsored updates only appear in the timeline of your target audience when they are logged in and active on the network.

Adverts, like Facebook’s Right Hand ad placements, are similar to standard website banner and button ads . Similar to those on Facebook, these ads generally deliver lower click through rates than sponsored newsfeed ads.

Targeting: You can target by a good range of standard demographics, but also extensively by company, role, skills, education and membership of LinkedIn Groups. Like Facebook’s lookalike targeting, audience expansion enables the targeting of audiences similar to those.

Guide to Advertising on LinkedIn

Summary: The least developed of the big three networks – yet a competent network for driving an engaged B2B audience to your website. Lead generation ads are best accompanied by strong ongoing networking and organic lead prospecting of your own.  For some great examples of what is achievable with a significant investment here…

Other networks:

YouTube is far and away the market leader for driving engaged users to your website, and video proves itself the best content for this objective with impressive stats for Vimeo too.  For most other major networks –  like Instagram, Pinterest and Vine – developing ad products tend to be launched in the US initially and are available to major advertisers only to begin with.

Instagram’s UK ad offering is currently restricted to major investors, but results seem very encouraging for reach and engagement for the right creative. A broader launch is currently expected for the end of 2015, watch this space for more information on the options soon.

Pinterest is currently launching a new range of ad units. This has the potential for high commercial return for advertisers – again, watch this space for more details on this. With Google+, it is our perspective that the network won’t carry any advertising anytime soon – if ever.

Conclusion

Advertising for engagement and traffic in these networks isn’t going away either, but the right approach isn’t as complex as it might seem.  By creating the right content to attract and maintain customer’s attention and developing the right campaigns that drive results against more commercial business-wide objectives, brands can thrive in social.

As a final thought – adopting a test & learn culture with all advertising is essential.This is certainly the case for social media; the networks themselves are all still discovering what ads will work for their growing and maturing audiences.

For more ideas on creating an objective focused social media presence for your business, get in touch with us here now…