The 10 greatest social media advertising tips for content marketers

Let’s start with the bad news first. It’s tougher than ever to get your content noticed.

Changes to Google’s search results pages have further obscured content organically, especially on competitive commercial searches. Meanwhile, paid search CPCs are at all-time highs in established markets.

Organic reach in social media? It’s pretty much dead. Half of all content gets zero shares, and less than 0.1% will be shared more than 1,000 times. And Facebook just announced that you’re even less likely to get your content in front of people who aren’t related to you. (Sorry.)

Additionally, the typical internet marketing conversion rate is less than 1%.

Social media advertising Butters meme

How content marketing doesn’t (usually) work

How does content marketing actually work? Many people believe content marketing is basically a three-step process:

  1. Create new content.
  2. Share your content on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).
  3. People buy your stuff.

Nope. This almost never happens.

Social media advertising how content marketing doesn't work

Most content goes nowhere. The consumer purchase journey isn’t a straight line – and it takes time.

So is there a more reliable way to increase leads and sales with content?

Social media ads to the rescue!

Social media advertising bad time ski instructor meme

Now it’s time for the good news, guys! Social media ads provide the most scalable content promotion and are proven to turn visitors into leads and customers.

And the best part? You don’t need a huge ad budget.

A better, more realistic process for content marketing would look like this:

  1. Create: Produce content and share it on social media.
  2. Amplify: Selectively promote your top content on social media.
  3. Tag: Build your remarketing audience by tagging site visitors with a cookie.
  4. Filter: Apply behavioral and demographic filters on your audience.
  5. Remarket: Remarket to your audience with display ads, social ads, and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) to promote offers.
  6. Convert: Capture qualified leads or sale.
  7. Repeat.

You can use the following 10 Twitter and Facebook advertising hacks as a catalyst to get more eyeballs on your content, or as an accelerant to create an even larger traffic explosion.

1. Improve your Quality Score

Quality Score is a metric Google uses to rate the quality and relevance of your keywords and PPC ads – and influences your cost-per-click. Facebook calls their version a “Relevancy Score”:

Social media advertising Facebook Relevance Score

While Twitter calls theirs a “Quality Adjusted Bid”:

Social media advertising Twitter Quality Adjusted Bid

Whatever you call it, Quality Score is a crucial metric. You can increase your quality score for Twitter and Facebook by increasing your post engagement rates.

A high quality score is great because you’ll get a higher ad impression share for the same budget at a lower cost per engagement. On the flip side, a low Quality Score is terrible because you’ll have a low ad impression share and a high cost per engagement.

How do you increase engagement rates? Promote your best content – your unicorns (the top 1-3% that performs better than all your other content) vs. your donkeys (your bottom 97%).

To figure out if your content is a unicorn or donkey, you’ll have to test it out.

Social media advertising unicorns or donkeys

  • Post lots of stuff (organically) to Twitter and use Twitter Analytics to see which content gets the most engagement.
  • Post your top stuff from Twitter organically to LinkedIn and Facebook. Again, track which posts get the most traction.
  • Pay to promote the unicorns on Facebook and Twitter.

The key to paid social media ads is to be picky. Cast a narrow net and maximize those engagement rates.

2. Increase engagement with audience targeting

Social media advertising South Park meme

Targeting all of your fans isn’t precise. It’s lazy and you’ll waste a lot of money.

Your fans aren’t a homogenous blob. They all have different incomes, interests, values, and preferences.

For example, by targeting fans of Donald Trump, people with social media marketing job titles, NRA members, and the hashtag #NeverHillary (and excluding Democrats, fans of Hillary Clinton, and the hashtag #neverTrump), this tweet for an Inc. article I wrote got 10x higher engagement:

Social media advertising Trump tweet engagement

Keyword targeting and other audience targeting methods help turn average ads into unicorns.

3. Generate free clicks from paid ads

On Twitter, tweet engagements are the most popular type of ad campaign. Why? I have no idea. You have to pay for every user engagement (whether someone views your profile, expands your image, expands your tweet from the tweet stream, or clicks on a hashtag).

If you’re doing this, you need to stop. Now. It’s a giant waste of money and offers the worst ROI.

Instead, you should only pay for the thing that matters most to your business, whether that’s clicks to your website, app installs, followers, leads, or actual video views.

For example, when you run a Twitter followers campaign you only pay when someone follows you. But your tweet that’s promoting one of your unicorn pieces of content will also get a ton of impressions, retweets, replies, mentions, likes, and visits to your website. All for the low, low cost of $0.

4. Promote unicorn video ads!

Would you believe you can get thousands of video views at a cost of just $0.02 per view?

Social media advertising 2 cent video views

Shoppers who view videos are more likely to remember you, and buy from you. A couple quick tips for success:

  • Promote videos that have performed the best (i.e., driven the most engagement) on your website, YouTube, or elsewhere.
  • Make sure people can understand your video without hearing it – an amazing 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound, according to Digiday.
  • Make it memorable, try to keep it short, and target the right audience.

Bonus: video ad campaigns increase relevancy score by 2 points!

5. Score huge wins with custom audiences

True story: A while back I wrote an article that asked: do Twitter Ads work? To promote the article on Twitter, I used their tailored audiences feature to target key influencers.

The very same day, Business Insider asked for permission to publish the story. So I promoted that version of the article to influencers using tailored audiences.

An hour later, a Fox News producer emailed me. Look where I found myself:

Social media advertising Larry Kim Fox News interview

The awesome power of custom audiences resulted in additional live interviews with major news outlets including the BBC, 250 high-value press pickups and links, massive brand exposure, 100,000 visits to the WordStream site, and a new business relationship with Facebook.

This is just one example of identity-based marketing using social media ads. Whether it’s Twitter’s tailored audiences or Facebook’s custom audiences, this opens a ton of new and exciting advertising use cases!

6. Promote your content on more social platforms

Medium, Hacker News, Reddit, Digg, and LinkedIn Pulse call all send you massive amounts of traffic. It’s important to post content here that is appropriate to the audience.

Post content on Medium or LinkedIn. New content is fine, but repurposing your content is a better strategy. This will give a whole new audience a chance to discover and consume your existing content.

Again, you can use social media ads as a catalyst or accelerant and get hundreds, thousands, or even millions of views you otherwise wouldn’t have. It might even open you up to syndication opportunities (I’ve had posts syndicated to New York Observer and Time Magazine).

You can also promote your existing content on sites like Hacker News, Reddit, or Digg. Getting upvotes can create valuable exposure that will send tons of traffic to your existing content.

For a minimal investment, you can get some serious exposure and traffic!

7. Optimize for engagement for insanely awesome SEO

RankBrain is an AI machine learning system, which Google is now using to better understand search queries, especially queries Google has never seen before (an estimated 15% of all queries).

I believe Google is looking at user engagement metrics (such as organic click-through rates, bounce rates, dwell time, and conversion rates) as a way, in part, to rank pages that have earned very few or no links and provide better answers to users’ questions.

Social media advertising RankBrain SEO

Even if user engagement metrics aren’t part of the core ranking algorithm, getting really high organic CTRs and conversion rates will have its own great rewards:

  • More clicks and conversions.
  • Better organic search rankings.
  • Even more clicks and conversions.

Social media advertising Facebook Experian case study data

Use social media ads to build brand recognition and double your organic search click-through and conversion rates!

8. Social media remarketing

Social media remarketing, on average, will boost engagement by 3x and increase conversion rates by 2x, all while cutting your costs by a third. So make the most of it!

Use social media remarketing to push your hard offers, such as sign-ups, consultations, and downloads.

9. Combine everything with super remarketing

Social media advertising super cereal South Park meme

Super remarketing is the awesome combination of remarketing, demographics, behaviors, and high engagement content. Here’s how and why it works.

  • Behavior and interest targeting: These are the people interested in your stuff.
  • Remarketing: These are the people who have recently checked our your stuff.
  • Demographic targeting: These are the people who can afford to buy your stuff.

Now you need to target your paid social ads to a narrow audience that meets all three criteria using your high engagement unicorns.

The result?

Social media advertising more money meme

10. Combine paid search & social ads

For our final, and most advanced tip of them all, you’re going to combine social ads with PPC search ads on Google using RLSA.

RLSA is incredibly powerful. You can target customized search ads only to people who have recently visited your site when they search on Google. It increases click-through and conversion rates by 3x and also reduces cost-per-click by a third.

But there’s one problem. By definition, RLSA doesn’t target people who are unfamiliar with your brand.

This is where social ads come in. Social ads will help more people become familiar with your brand.

Social ads are cheap way to start the process of biasing people towards you. Although they may not need what you sell now, later when the need arises, people will either do a branded search for your stuff, or do an unbranded search but click on you because they remember your memorable or inspirational content.

Social media advertising unicorns

If your content marketing efforts are struggling, then these ridiculously powerful Twitter and Facebook advertising hacks will turn your content donkeys into unicorns!

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