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5 pitfalls to avoid in social media advertising

Marketers recognize that social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat provide huge — and generally cost-effective — marketing and advertising opportunities. With opportunities come threats, many of which can be avoided. Here are five social media advertising pitfalls to be aware of:

Not having a strategy

Social media isn’t going to do all of the work for you. To execute a social media campaign successfully, you are going to need a comprehensive, well-planned strategy.

What does a good plan look like? First, your social media efforts should be aligned with your overall marketing goals. Are you looking to raise overall brand awareness? Then your social media tactics should align and support that strategy.

We recommend the development of SMART goals to identify and prioritize needs, determine your desired results (what do you want to happen) and set time sensitive, performance measurements.

Next, you need to choose your Key Performance Indicators—the metrics organizations use to determine a tactics success or failure. The collection and measuring of KPIs allow marketers to make well-informed decisions about channel spend and the ability to hone strategies and tactics for improved outcomes.

Not being compliant with government regulations

Many industries, such as financial institutions, pharmaceuticals, tobacco and so forth, are mandated by the Federal Trade Commission to make consumer disclosures that educate and allow consumers to make informed decisions. Failure to communicate conflicts of interest, harmful product side effects and financial implications, amongst others, is taken very seriously by the FTC.

Social media advertising, while still relatively new, is subject to the same disclosure requirements as other advertising mediums (TV, radio and print.) Companies must be vigilant to ensure that all claims, expressed or implied, are truthful and accurate and will not mislead consumers. Advertisements on social media must clearly and conspicuously disclose all material information regarding an offer in their advertisements. Failure to do so may constitute a violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, or related state laws.

The FTC website is an excellent source of information about this topic. Other helpful articles include: Pitfalls to avoid when advertising via social media and Avoid the compliance pitfalls of social media advertising.

Not targeting effectively

Targeting is one of the cornerstones of any marketing campaign; social media advertising is not exempt. Fortunately, most social media platforms make it easy to target specific audiences effectively. A variety of tools combined with vast amounts of data allows a marketer to define their ideal audience. However, you must know what your best customer looks like and how this customer uses the platform. Segment, target and position your audience to ensure that your message appeals to their needs and motivations.

Being associated with fake news

A big trend in 2016 was the proliferation of fake news sites. It’s done a number to platforms like Google and Facebook, whose algorithms are designed to show people what they’d like to see. They’re working on combatting this with a slew of new tools and defined policies, but there’s more that you as an advertiser can do to prevent yourself from being associated with fake news.

For starters, you can blacklist fake news sites to avoid having your ads appear on them. Alternatively, you can whitelist other sites, which means restricting impressions so that your ads only appear on sites you’ve pre-approved.

Related story: How to avoid having your ad associated with fake news

Not monitoring ad placement

Not monitoring is the equivalent of not strategizing properly. Don’t place your ads in poor places, such as fake news sites or before videos with questionable content (pornographic, illegal or otherwise offensive material fall under this umbrella). Poor placement happens when you are not monitoring your ads diligently. Thankfully, monitoring the placement of your ads is not too difficult and can often be done via a platform’s dashboard.

Related story: 7 hacks to optimize your Google AdWords account

Pitfalls exist throughout life, no one industry is exempt. Vow to remain vigilant, maintain best practices and be transparent with your audience, every day. Your brand reputation will grow and lead to a deeper relationship with your very best customers.


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