Strategy

How to maximize your social media ad spend

Social media advertising is big business, as shown by the $31 billion spent globally on social advertising. With that much money at stake, getting it right is crucial to your company’s financial success. Spend too much with little to show and your advertising budget could disappear.

Don’t worry, though; we’ve got you covered. Read on for our suggestions on how to make your social ads go further.

Evaluate your current return on investment

Remember, it’s about spending smarter not harder. The first step is to calculate your marketing return on investment (ROI.) This necessary step lets you see where exactly your ad dollars are going and determine which strategy best maximizes sales.

From there, you can begin to formulate a plan for where to invest the bulk of your ad dollars. A deliberate, performance-based strategy leads to strong tactics and smart, advertising spend.

Eliminate poor performing tactics and tools

Now that you've evaluated your ROI and created your plan it is time to move forward. One of the hidden traps in decision making, “the sunk-cost trap,” causes people to continue with the mistakes of the past. In other words, we hate to give up, let go or move on when things aren’t going well, preferring to believe that things will turnaround. Except, it’s not working.

It may not be working for any number of reasons; perhaps it’s the type of ad, the platform, or even your target market. It’s also possible that you may not be correctly utilizing an individual ad tool, but if you are and you still aren’t seeing green, then it’s best to re-allocate your advertising money.

Invest more in what is working

Take the money from your underperforming areas and invest in the medium that is showing promising returns. Maybe it’s YouTube videos or Instagram’s carousel ads, whatever it is, take advertising spend from the under-performing assets and shift to what is working or shows promising returns. Remember to carefully track the social media advertising metrics that matter most to ensure that your ad campaigns continue to work at optimal performance.

Make your ad better

Are your ads failing you? Maybe it’s not the platform but a fundamental problem with your creative. Are they confusing? Misleading? Are they reaching your intended target market? No platform or ad tool in existence can make a winning campaign out of a faulty ad. Could you get the same message across from a 2-minute ad in 30 seconds? Go with the shorter cut. Are people electing not to view your ad or bouncing off after a few seconds? Ad performance improves with good design principles, a compelling narrative arc and an easy to follow storyline.

A good old fashioned A/B test

If you’re not familiar with the concept, an A/B test is when you take two or more ad units and test them against one another to see which imagery and copy perform the best. From there, you steer your ad dollars towards those ads with the top performance.

A/B testing works with bivariate or multivariate analysis. For example, testing two ads with only a few minor differences will reveal which variables resonate with your customer. You can test headlines, body copy, images, titles, video, call-to-action buttons or any combination of the two to see what works best for your target audience. A/B testing affords you the best actionable insights to ensure a higher return on investment.

Convert organic to promoted

You’ll see this sometimes in the music industry with artists releasing radio singles. If a certain song performs well on iTunes or Spotify, then a record label may turn it into a formal single to boost sales. The same principle can be extended to social advertising. If you see the performance of an organic post doing very well, then consider turning it into a promoted post or ad. In fact, you should try it because, at the end of the day, you want to get sufficient ROI for your ads. If you see one doing well on its own, give it a little promotional nudge to do even better and further boost that ROI.

Putting it all together

Making your social ads go further involves everything from the courage to let it go to testing to see what format works best with your audience. Resolve to review your advertising campaigns today; it is a practice that will ultimately result in smarter ad spend and a greater return on investment.

Lynn Pedotto

Lynn Pedotto is a writer who holds an MS from Medill. In addition to covering all things social, she’s a policy wonk who loves to write about government.