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Smarter Social

Smarter Social

September 9, 2019 | By Robert Hoyt

Monthly active users on Facebook as of June 30, 2019 = 2.41 billion

Population of the planet in 1951 = 2.58 billion

Mobile Minutes is spent on Facebook or Instagram = 1 in 5

Advertising on social media presents many opportunities for your business, both good and bad. The upsides are all well known at this point: increased brand awareness, engagement, website traffic, increased conversions/purchases. Social advertising is well suited to almost any stage of your sales funnel and for most business goals. The downsides are equally well known – unless you understand how to effectively advertise and measure your efforts, you stand to waste a lot of money on social.

So, how do you execute smarter social media advertising?

Here are 5 quick ways to execute smarter Social Advertising.

1) Don’t Rely on Boosted Posts Alone

Many advertisers turn towards boosted posts when they’re not sure how to best utilize budget on social.

A boosted post is when you take an existing organic post and put ad spend and targeting behind it.

This is a more common tactic for some platforms (Pinterest, LI, Twitter) than others.

It’s typically best suited for low-budget engagement and awareness goals, as you’re limited in targeting and creative capabilities.

A boosted post is really the middle ground between organic and paid strategies, and they’re really only suited for advertisers looking to increase engagement on a particular piece of organic content.

However, if you’re going to invest significant marketing dollars in social media, it’s almost always better to opt for a paid strategy over an organic one.

It’s currently estimated that only 6% of your followers actually see your posts – only so many of your followers are going to engage with your content, and that’s people who already know your business. Additionally, goals are finite and tactics are measurable; goals are tailored to specific efforts, and tracking capabilities allow you to see exactly what you’re putting in and getting out.

What’s more, most organic goals can be easily folded into a paid campaign. Even if you’re driving conversions, you’re still reaching new people, increasing awareness and engagement across the board, while also driving new business.


2) Invest in The Right Social Platforms for Your Goals

Users go to particular social media platforms for specific uses. For example, people use LinkedIn and Twitter for vastly different reasons. You may update your Linkedin Profile in hopes to snag your next job opportunity, and you may peruse your Twitter Feed for the latest NBA updates. Think about the ways in which members of your target audience use a platform and tailor your advertising efforts [tactic, goal, tracking, targeting, creative] accordingly.


How, if at all, has your target audience demonstrated interest or intent around your business? Have they liked something? Have they visited your website? Users self-identify and align their interests with particular verticals more than others.

How familiar is a user with your business, if at all? People generally engage with content that
is familiar to them in some way, whether it falls within an interest category, or whether they’re
an existing customer.

Think about the brands that people follow on social media, think about the interests that people put on display for a given platform. Because of this, for some industries and tactics, you may be able to successfully rely on the platform’s native targeting capabilities.

For others, you will be more successful if you use your own data [more on this later].

Example – Home Service Providers

It’s safe to say that most people don’t turn to their social media feeds to find a new home service provider. They’re much more likely to find a business via a search engine or a website like Yelp. That’s not to say you can’t advertise this vertical on social. You just need to be smart about how you do it.

This campaign targeted an audience composed of those who had visited specific service pages on their site, as well as a “lookalike” of those individuals, i.e. targeting people who had already demonstrated intent by visiting the website, as well as allowing the platform to find similar folks.

This strategy provided the advertiser with the most leads [contact form fills] they had ever achieved in a given month with a 95% increase.


3) Utilize Tracking and Conversions to Measure ROI

The tracking capabilities inherent to each social media ad platform enable one to easily assess, optimize, and structure your ad campaign to tailor creative to a very specific audience.


Every social ad platform provides extensive metrics detailing performance of your ads on the platform. Here are the one’s that are typically the focus of most social advertising campaigns:

  • Reach
  • Impressions (ad views)
  • CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions)
  • Cost Per Click
  • Click-Thru-Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • Cost-Per-Conversion.

But we’re also able to track all the activity on your site, enabling you to see all the actions taken therein, which provides additional insights into your advertising.


    • Snippets of code placed on a website or partner platform enabling you to track user activity
    • Place a single line of code and you’re able to see all important user activity quickly and easily. Facebook and Instagram provide the most out of the box integrations, but each platform plays nicely with the major CMS’. We also use Google Tag Manager when we’re not able to integrate directly with a site.

Tracking capabilities not only let you see what action is taken, and attribute costs and revenue to your efforts it also enables you to segment your audience into steps in your sales funnel based on those actions.


4) Don’t Underestimate Creative and Messaging

This is where the rubber meets the road. The true power of Social Media advertising comes down to specificity – the specificity you’re able to achieve when segmenting your audiences, and the specific messaging you’re able to achieve with dynamic creative options. But remember, the average attention span on social media is continually shrinking – you’ve got to get your message across quickly, and the only way to do that is with highly visual content, with short, to-the-point copy.

The creative options are particular to each platform, but for the most part, successful creative relies on visual (images, videos) media, short-but-sweet copy, CTAs, and links to a valuable landing page. Take a look at the formats available on the big four social advertising platforms; that’ll give you an idea of the kinds of messages you’re able to get across very quickly.

Creative Best Practices

  • Single image link ads generally perform the best for traffic, leads and conversions.
  • Image specs – landscape is always best for single images – 1200×628 minimum.
  • Square images are best for Instagram, carousel, and slideshows – 600-by-600 minimum.
  • Videos are best suited for reach, branding, and awareness.
  • Keep videos to 15 seconds for the most reach and placement options, 30 seconds are OK, 1 minute is the absolute most.
  • Less is always
  • Keep copy short and sweet. Copy = a max of 120 characters, headlines = max of 30 characters, CTAs = Max of 3 words.
  • High res, high quality, always.
  • Visual assets should look good, be clear, and have a high resolution. It’s better to not advertise a particular product than to waste money doing so poorly.

Work with the Right Digital Advertising Partner

Remember, Smarter Social advertising really comes down to specificity. You’re able to target specific people, serve them a specific message, and ask them to take a specific action. Success hinges upon understanding the ways in which users or members of your target audience engage with particular content, and then using the available tools (creative, targeting, tracking) to segment that audience into different groups and advertise to them accordingly.

For this reason, social media advertising is a great way to test, complement, or augment your existing digital strategy. Depending on where and how customer find your business in the digital space determines how you advertise to them, and specific, smart Social media advertising can easily fit within your current marketing strategy.

But, it’s not a free for all. There are specific regulations around what you advertise and to whom, and each platform has inherent idiosyncrasies and formats, and things are constantly changing and being updated. In order to be successful in this digital space, you need a team of dedicated individuals who understand both the capabilities, and the typical uses, of social media – those who have the time and understanding to continually optimize efforts within a dynamic environment.

If you’re interested in partnering with the Seattle Times Media Solutions for Smarter Social Advertising, please get in touch!

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