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October 18, 2016

9 Steps to creating a Social Media Ad Budget

By Jessika Phillips

I’d like to make an announcement, and it may be hard to take, but I must clear the air about something. So here it goes. “The free ride social media good’ole days are over”..more like they’ve been over for the past year. Social Media has become a mix of a “play to play” and “pay to play” field and whether or not you set apart a budget is not a question of if, but now how to do it. Many who are just entering the field of pay to play have been testing the water with different Ads and channels trying to find their rhythm.

No matter if you’ve started testing the waters or not within social media ads, there are nine best practices to have in place.

The brands that win on social media are the ones that mix in an ad budget with great content.

The first big key to getting started with is to…


#1 - Know your Goal

There are many reasons to advertise on social media and a ton of different results you can get in the process. The key is always to start with the end in mind. What are you trying to ultimately achieve? Are you looking to convert leads, grow your engagement or are you trying to drive more people back to your website to purchase a product? Knowing your goal first will help you decide what channel to advertise on and what type of Ad to create. For example, Facebook allows you to create boosted posts on the cheap, but if your ultimate goal is to drive conversions, then it’s probably not the best avenue to start.


#2 - Know your audience and what content resonates with your audience


“Know your audience”- I’m sure you’ve heard this a thousand times, but this basic statement can make or break your campaign. When you think about your target audience or “buyer personas,” as I call them, you should stop and think; why are they going to care about my ad. What is the problem I can help them solve or a goal I can help them reach? How can I capture their attention in 3 seconds or less? Where can I capture their attention? What social media channels do they use? Where are they going for information?  “How can I make them share, care or swear,” as Sara Evans has put it.  

Knowing your audience will help you visualize where to target and steps you’ll need to put in place to fully capture your audience’s attention and win them over.


Once you know who you’re targeting and what social media channel they’re hanging out on then, it’s time to set a budget.


#3 - Start small and then add to the mix


It’s important to have a budget in mind and then start small. If you think of Advertising on social media as making a bet, it makes sense to start small. The more comfortable you get and the better your Ads perform, the more you can add to the mix.

Test out $100 and then if your Ad starts performing than add another $100. The key is to test first and monitor how your Ads are performing.

Notice I said Ads not Ad, as in trying out more than one Ad.  Play with variations of different images and text within the Ads.


#4 - Create more than one Ad set

The trick is to test 2 or 3 Ad sets when you start out. You can even create one copy and test out two separate images or try the same image and test out two different copies. You should run 2-5  campaigns to see which set performs the best. You can even test different audiences to see which resonates with your Ad the most.  


#5 - Promote content that already has or will get engagement

One of my favorite Facebook advertising tricks is to create an ad with something that is already going to have or quickly get engagement.  If you promote a post that already has engagement than your Ad is going to become less expensive AND you’ll get more reach! For example- Create a post that is asking a question - “What is your Favorite Social Media Platform for Engagement”  and then the link in the Ad could drive people to a download that gives its visitors a copy of the social media cheat sheet to engagement.


#6 - Have fun with it!


Let’s be real, all of us are trying to escape advertising. We “DVR” our favorite shows to fast forward television commercials, we listen to Pandora or sirusXM to get away from radio Ads, we sign-up for the DoNotCall list to avoid cold calls… everyone tries to dodge being marketed to...and social media is no exception. When you think about it, social media channels are for people to hang out with their friends, family, and business network. So if you want to earn someone’s attention you have to do it in a way that is engaging and fun! One of my friends, Brian Carter, created an Ad that was a lead quiz that told you what kind of famous marketer you were most like once you answered a few questions. His fans were more willing to fill out answers on his Ad because it told them something about themselves. His conversions were off the charts, and it was fun! People enjoyed his marketing and shared it with others. That’s what I call a “win-win”.


# 7- Have an end point, preferably with an “opt-in.”

If you’re setting up an Ad on the content, you want people to read you might as well have the next step in there. If you’re gaining attention then why not try to keep it and give the visitor a chance to get to know you more. They say over 60% of the sales cycle is over before a prospect even talks to a sales rep. So having an opt-in where you can offer something of value in the form of a whitepaper or e-book in exchange for their email address only makes sense and starts your prospects and leads down the buyer’s journey and relationship building process.


#8- Images Matter on Social Media 

Images matter a lot in fact. Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. Use images that will resonate with your audience. Steer clear of stock images that look fake or stuffy. Use images that are of people or something that helps tell the story and sets the tone.  You also want to make sure your images fit the appropriate size requirements within the social network that you’re creating the Ad for.  Try using fun images of people in bright tones within your Ads. If you don’t have a photographer or professional you can find fun images to start with on sites such as unsplash.com


#9 Test, Test and test some more

Once you’ve launched your Ad then it’s full steam ahead!

It’s worth looking at metrics related to engagement and brand awareness, It’s nice to get engagement on your ads but the main goal is to increase conversions and revenue.  In order to really get the full picture of how your ads are performing you’ll need to install a conversion pixel on your website so you can track what happened after someone clicked on the Ad itself. This will let you know if your personas converted on your website or if they bounce.

Metrics that you want to review include:

  • Click-through rate: the percentage of clicks a link to your site has gotten based on total number of post views
  • Conversion rate: the percentage of social media viewers who have completed a defined goal, such as filling out a form or making a purchase
  • Conversions by campaign: the conversion rate for specific campaigns/ads (this will help you determine what ad types are most effective)
  • Referral Traffic – The amount of traffic to your website from your social networks


Bonus #10-  Know your ROI- Return on Investment

Not sure how to calculate your return on investment? It breaks down like this:

Time + Cost - Profits= Return on Investment


Although the free ride of social media is over it doesn’t mean you have to suck at social media marketing. It simply means, getting creative to have the right balance of paid and organic social media reach. The key to social media is always conversational and real with what you’re putting out. Ads or not, social media, is still a place that people use to have conversations with people that interest them.


Have you had success with your social media paid advertising? I want to know. Share what you did below!

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Tags: Social Media Marketing, Facebook, Facebook Ads, social media advertising


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