3 Lessons Social Advertisers Can Learn From Search Marketing

I strongly believe that marketers can always learn something from one another – whether it be a new insight, trend, or tip. Your peers can be great resources to help you better hone your craft.

There are many disciplines within marketing, and as teams begin to collaborate more to drive cross-channel synergy, there are lessons to be learned from our channel counterparts.

Social advertising, for instance, is still a relatively new practice and affected by rapid industry growth and change. In Q3 2014, key performance indicators (KPIs) for social advertising saw fluctuation both year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter as marketers continue to scale investments and improve their targeting and optimization practices. During that same time, Facebook, the world’s largest social network, proceeded to introduce structural changes and new functionality into the mix.

By comparison, paid search has seen more stability given its maturity and the long-standing best practices search marketers have developed. As the newer kids on the block, social marketers should embrace the opportunity to take a cue from more seasoned residents of the digital world and adopt some tricks of the trade from SEM.

Do Your Research

Search marketers are used to combing competitor activity and performing keyword research to ensure coverage on key topics and opportunities to expand or adjust strategies. With the festive shopping season getting into full swing, search marketers have been busy concatenating keywords, developing negatives, and keeping a watchful eye on the competition.

Social marketers should perform this type of research for their own programs. Competitive research may seem obvious, but it tends to be overlooked, as it can be a time-consuming process. Thankfully, there are many tools available in the market to make social monitoring easier. Free tools like Google Alerts, Hootsuite, Social Mention, and Topsy are accessible ways to begin this process.

Pick a handful of your top competitors so as to not overwhelm the process. Then, more broadly, set up tracking of key topics and hashtags in your industry. Use this information to guide your strategy on message or audience development. The key is not just to hop on the hot topic bandwagon, but adapt these themes and insights to fit your program and execute against them better than your competitors.

ABT: Always Be Testing

Over the years, search marketers have gotten very proficient at testing elements of their campaigns to drive optimal performance and find best-fit combinations. From experimenting with calls to action and messaging variations to comparing landing page performance, multi-variant testing has become a hallmark paid search practice.

Testing needs to become an integrated part of the paid social strategy, particularly as more marketers begin to take an always-on approach social advertising, rather than sporadic bursts of campaign activity.

There are several things marketers can do to improve their social testing:

  • At a basic level, analyze the performance of your organic social content and begin to execute advertising with that build off variations of this content.
  • To be more discreet with testing, consider implementing ad types that that don’t require the promotion of existing organic content – on Facebook these are known as Unpublished Page Posts and on Twitter they are called Promoted Only. This way you can avoid clogging your owned assets with posts simply meant for ad testing.
  • Leverage first-party data to segment messaging to specific audience types. Set up a Tailored Audience on Twitter or Custom Audience on Facebook to target certain known cohorts such as those have downloaded your app or enrolled in your email list or reverse this strategy by excluding these groups.

Mind Your Measurement

Many search marketers have learned the value of reporting on KPIs such as return on investment (ROI) or return on advertising spend (ROAS) to understand the profitability of their campaigns. Furthermore, sophisticated marketers are improving measurement and aligning to overarching business objectives such as revenue and profit.

Social marketers, can we all agree that proxy metrics such as likes and shares are not effective at measuring true campaign performance? It’s time to move beyond these surface-level signals and move toward more value-driven evaluations when measuring our paid social campaigns. Social is more than just engagement and many ad formats are proving effective in driving direct response goals. Start exploring how you can measure performance metrics and customer lifetime value to create more meaningful programs.

One More Lesson for the Road

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Search marketers could learn a thing or two from social gurus, too. By nature, social media marketers have prioritized high-quality, consumable content, feeding off the engaging environment in which their ads live. Search marketers should not ignore the power of content when it comes to crafting ads and landing pages. Instead of focusing optimizations solely on keywords and obsessing about the changes engines are making to algorithms, start focusing more on reaching your audience and delivering a customer-centric experience.

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