Social advertising is not easy or a guaranteed success, but when done right can work extremely well both for increasing brand awareness and generating revenue. Four social advertising experts discussed different aspects of how to achieve success in a Thursday panel session at the Adobe Summit in Salt Lake City moderated by Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff, Group Product Marketing, Media Optimizer, Adobe Systems, Inc. 

Social Advertising Means Different Things to Different People

Panelists generally agreed that social advertising is a broad topic that does not have the same meaning for everyone. “There is a subset of marketers who say social advertising is the greatest thing ever and a subset who say it doesn’t work,” said Steve Parker, Jr. Co-Founder/Managing Partner of digital analysis firm Levelwing.

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 “We had the same argument about banner ads in 1997. Social advertising does work and is very effective when you make strategic plans. Some clients want to raise awareness and others want to measure detailed response.”
Will Hambly, Online Marketing Manager of LinkedIn, said his company has three basic types of advertisers. “We have traditional brand-oriented Fortune 500 companies, SMBs that buy ads on a performance basis and focus on post-click conversion rates, and companies with a nuanced social point of view that may also sponsor moderated groups. “We get journalists to serve as moderators and spur conversation,” he said.

Brooke Angles, Founder of social advertising firm Admosis Media, said from an agency perspective LinkedIn is not broadly understood enough. “We need education,” she said. “LinkedIn is seen as Facebook’s younger, more serious brother. But it has a lot of power. Do you think IT pros and decision-makers spend most of their time on Facebook? I don’t. We can triangulate those people on Facebook but on LinkedIn you have the ability to be specific and know you’re targeting the right community.”

Think Like the Customer

One issue panelists said social marketers often have is not thinking like their customers when they try to engage them socially. “Great content finds large audiences -- it’s all about engagement,” said Lee Brown, Global Head of Tumblr. “Too many people send bombarding messages instead of engaging in dialogue.”

“Creative is tough,” agreed Parker. “We all think in our own little minds and choose the wrong things. Creative on social is not only images but also text and copy. Do you have consistent themes?”

Parker gave the example of a tire manufacturer that introduced a tire with 25% less materials as “green,” because it was less taxing on the environment to create and easier to recycle. However, after engaging with customers through social media the company realized the biggest selling point was actually that the tires offered better fuel economy. “They now focus their marketing on fuel economy in their marketing and it’s one of their most successful subgroups.”

Brown said knowing you customer also extends to speaking to them in their voice. “If you’re trying to reach millennials, make sure you have millennials on your staff writing content for you.”

Brown gave the example of an amusement park operator that identified the 10 best photographers on Tumblr and convinced seven of them to visit its park for free and take pictures. “Now the company had content and gave credit for the photos back to the creators, who then reblogged them. It spread organically.”

Achieving Operational Success

Brown said to achieve operational success, companies must remember that social advertising “lives on a lot longer” than other forms of advertising. Angles added that social advertising success also requires “the cooperation of guys that don’t always hang out together.” This can include members of disparate departments such as search, social, ad/media planning and site traffic tracking.

“All of these people help you understand the whole customer journey,” she said. “But don’t wait for all the stars to align before starting. If you get one or two to cooperate, start. As you succeed you’ll encourage other people to join in on something that at least in the short term makes their jobs harder. Customer service wants another input like a hole in the head.” 

Image Courtesy of Rafal Olechowski (Shutterstock)