What Should My Expectations Be To Run Effective Social Media Campaigns
How hard can it be? Post a few ads, make a tweet or two occasionally…after all I do this frequently in my personal social life. Unfortunately, this is the outlook of many business leaders as they ponder diving into the social media advertising pool. However, this pool, is a digital gateway to the lives and buying habits of 3.2 billion active social media users around the world. We might want to rethink our casual approach to adding this to our marketing strategy.
Whether we are talking about paid advertising, retargeting campaigns, mail campaigns, lead strategies or content marketing tactics; there has never been more ways to build and boost your brand, drive traffic, generated leads to conversion, or build genuine lasting relationships with your customers than today. So, as a business decision-maker, what can or should I expect regarding size and scope of this strategic approach, and of course…the cost.
There are several cost figures bouncing around the web when it comes to social media campaigns, but a good average to consider for a well-defined strategy falls somewhere between $3,500 to $6,500 per month. For larger organizations with more complex marketing strategies, cost can rise upwards to around $20,000 monthly. Before you begin clutching your chest, remember, there is much more to an effective social media marketing strategy than posting a few pictures with related text, firing off a few tweets and sending out some emails. Let’s talk about these in a little more detail so you can build a strategy that is scaled to your particular needs.
Size And Scope Of Your Campaign
A Social Media Campaign is generally divided into four segments:
Data Analytics. Like the saying goes, “we improve in the areas we measure.” I highly advise investing in the infrastructure that properly tracks and measures the success and/or failure of the following three segments. If your default answer to this is Google Analytics, and you are a business larger than a single individual or an e-commerce store; although a great set of tools for what it was designed for in a free package, you will miss a lot of key data points needed. One last key point here; this segment of the process is list first for a reason. Many social media campaigns fail miserably because the initiator does not create an analysis driven campaign. Analyze first and Analyze last.
Content. In order to have content to share within your marketing channels you must create it…makes sense. This can be a variety of products; press releases, white papers, infographics, videos, blog posts, timeline images, and a host of others. Honestly, the limit is only the limit of those creating the content. One very important key note here is, it all begins with a strategy. Most campaign fails are due to little or no strategy design to meet specific end-goals. A few considerations are: 1) What is the goal of the campaign, 2) Who’s your audience, 3) What problem are you trying to solve for the audience, 4) What delivery format is best, 5) How is it unique, 6) What channels will you use, and 7) What is the schedule for delivery.
Paid Ads. Today, most social platforms provide some form of paid advertisement that can be used to drive traffic directly to your business. Examples are Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, Pinterest’s Promoted Pins, Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, and etc. Remember, each social channel offers a different form of user experience and simply spreading the same message content across all equally is not a recipe for success.
Engagement. At the end of the day, a significant portion of your strategy is to create engagement with your audience. Sharing content, responding to comments and messages, liking posts, hosting on-line events, and interacting with your target market, is your motivation for launching a social media campaign. Why, because if some form of engagement does not begin, a sale will certainly not occur!
When considering your budget, take a broader view of your project. With social media, ask questions such as:
How many marketing social platforms (channels) will you need to engage?
How much content will need to be created?
What media type do you intend to use (videos, blog posts, images, email) will you create? Will you need support with video production, graphic design, photography, or content writing?
Will you utilize paid advertising such as Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, and etc.?
Keep in mind, the greater the reach, the greater the cost. However, this thought alone should not distract or deter you from developing effective campaigns. The return on your investment can be much greater and longer-lasting, if done correctly. We will discuss this more in the following sections.
Managing The Project
In the previous section, we mentioned taking a broader view when considering the campaign project. As business leaders, we always have to keep our sights on cost, especially in areas of management overhead. When looking at a social media campaign, it’s no surprise that it can have a direct impact on your management overhead cost, especially if you have to resource this from within your organization. Just like other projects, someone has to manage the campaign from creation to execution. Someone will need to define the goals and metrics, coordinate the development of digital assets, build and manage the social strategy. And, all the while remaining focused on the ROI.
Due to cost and company brand impact, as a business leader, you’ll want to be actively engaged with the project manager. The manager will obviously steer the day-to-day efforts of content creation, paid advertising and analytics to ensure the end goals are achieved. This brings up the question, can you conduct such a project internally? Do you have the personnel resources and skill sets to devote to this endeavor full-time? Do you even know where to start and how to begin?
Paid Ads vs. Organic Ads
Since the initial creation of social networks, there has been a battle of thought; should we invest our resources in our organic network or use paid advertising to reach beyond our organic network? Is there one right answer? Honestly, there isn’t and it’s heavily dependent on a variety of factors such as your product, service, market space, short-term and long-term goals. It is interesting to note that according to a 2016 marketing survey of 304 major marketing firms by Clutch (a marketing data-gathering firm), 86% of marketers mixed paid and advertised social strategies. However, when narrowing the focus to Facebook, only 2% of reach is obtained with organic ads. Something to think about if Facebook is your only social outlet.
It’s an interesting phenomena when a brand can become so successful (think Nike, Apple, Coke) that it’s organic customers will provide much of the external reach. However, even these successful giants are careful not to rely solely on their organic customer base. What does that mean for you...invest in both.
Organic Tactics: In the organic scheme, we have a strong focus on content marketing. If the content is good, people will share it. Hence, you’ll need to budget for the type of content you wish to create. Recall our budget considerations mentioned earlier. If you want a high quality video, you’ll need to hire a professional videographer. If you want great looking infographics, hire a talented graphic designer. Want quality articles with researched content, hire an experienced writer.
Paid Tactics: Just a few of the metrics considered with paid advertising are [The Big Four] Cost-per-click (CPC), Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM), Cost-per-view (CPV), and cost-per-action (CPA). You’ll want to familiarize yourself with these as you set the budget for your social ads. You may want to hire a specialist with a depth in social media analytics and the platform in place to conduct the research. You want to ensure that you net a solid ROI from your advertising budget. Keep in mind when you outsource, you’ll generally provide the budget for the paid ads which will be separate from agency contract fee. What you will often find is this is still much cheaper than hiring full-time staff members and appropriating the required software platforms.
Executing Your Strategy
Ok, you’ve got a website, and you’re now looking to leverage the major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as part of your inbound marketing funnel and lead generation system. Now what? Well, you now need someone to post content, reply to comments, like posts, share, and reach out to influencers. This is when you may want to consider the benefits of hiring a social management agency. Their job is to keep your audience engaged with relevant info and updates, handle or direct customer questions and feedback, monitor analytics, respond to trends, make adjustments, and manage your social marketing channels. There are too many management options to list here, but as an example, freelancers can vary in price from $60 to $200 an hour. Many times it’s more economical to work with an agency that handles most, if not all facets of the development and execution processes.
Measure, Report, Improve, Repeat
We end where we began…analyze. A key component to your entire social media campaign should be a robust, data analytics recording system that tracks what works and what doesn’t. After all, you can’t fine tune your efforts if you can’t see accurate real-time results.
A tool that can’t be overlooked is a social API, or Application Programming Interface, which is simply a code that allows functionality and data on a website to be used on another social application. These APIs make it easier to manage data analytics across social platforms. There are numerous tools to purchase that specialize in aggregating your analytics across multiple social platforms and can even place the data into a single dashboard. However, unless you have someone on staff to manage these programs and monitor effectiveness, consider hiring an analyst with a background in social media. Equally important, ensure whomever handles your analytics can transform raw data into actionable information for decision-making.