The first time I rode a motorcycle, I fell in love. Between the power, the speed, and the freedom, I knew it was something I wanted to keep doing for a long time. But I also knew I had a lot to learn.
Learning to ride a motorcycle requires several new skills. You have to learn how to maneuver and balance a heavy, two-wheeled vehicle, how to change gears, how to let the clutch out smoothly and at the right time, and how to work the hand and foot brakes.
And that’s before you leave the parking lot.
Learning to advertise on social media is a similar experience: there’s a lot to be excited about, but all the options, features, and adjustments can leave you dazed.
After that first ride, I spent a couple months brooding. I knew I wanted to ride, but I didn’t feel ready for a full-sized motorcycle.
Then, one day, I decided to check out the local Vespa dealership, just to see … A week later, I bought myself a scooter.
On my scooter, I learned the fundamentals of riding — how to balance, how to maneuver on two wheels, and how to stay safe on the road — without having to worry about the full weight of a motorcycle or shifting gears.
By the time I bought my first full-sized bike a year later, all I needed was 45 minutes in a parking lot and I was ready to roll.
If you’ve always wanted to try social media advertising, but found it overwhelming, I’m here to hand you the keys to your scooter.
Yes, it was a bit crummy of Facebook to give brands amazing organic reach and then take it away. But they have a business to run, just like you.
I, for one, welcome our benevolent-ish (read: self-interested) paid social overlords. In fact, I would still recommend you use social media ads, even if the reach of “organic posts” never changed. Why?
And, how much do you even know about people who like your page?
For example, if you’re running a promotion with Facebook ads, you want to reach people who have recently considered buying your product, and are therefore most likely to buy — not necessarily an existing, longtime customer.
So, ready to get rolling?
Let’s start with five foundations that produce powerful social media advertising campaigns.
After you open your ads account, the first thing you should do is set up website tracking, which sends your website visitors’ information back to the ads platform.
On Facebook, you’ll get a “pixel.” On Twitter and Pinterest, you’ll get a “tag,” but it’s all the same thing: a snippet of code to pop in the header on every page of your site.
If you use the Rainmaker Platform, StudioPress Sites, or just about any site builder, there should be a “header scripts” box where you can paste in this code so it’s automatically output on all your pages. Otherwise, you will need to work with your developer to make sure the code is deployed properly.
Even if you’re not going to run ads for a while, you should still do this now.
Also, set up tracking for your primary conversions (sales, subscriptions, email list opt-ins, free ebook downloads — basically any transaction with a “thank you” page) inside each platform, so you have that data available when you’re ready.
It’s tempting to get into the weeds with social media ads, but just like with most marketing channels, a smart strategy will have a bigger impact than any number of tiny, detailed tweaks.
And you don’t have to start from scratch. In fact, it’s probably better not to start from scratch.
An approach we’ve come to rely on at Rainmaker Digital goes something like this:
Yep, it’s that simple. By priming people with persuasive content — good, persuasive content, that has inherent value and builds trust — you create a specialty retargeting audience, ready to hear your offer.
As for the “new” audience, I recommend starting with a lookalike audience on Facebook — either based on people who purchased your product or people on an email list. It’s a great way to use the power of Facebook ads without getting too complicated.
If you’re using your existing content, you should already be well on your way to a solid campaign. But whether or not you’re starting from scratch, here are a few pointers for developing ad creative that converts:
Take a deep breath, double-check your links and budget, and just go for it! The longer you agonize over your ads, the less time you spend learning what works.
If you get overwhelmed by all the settings, just use the defaults. Remember, Facebook and Twitter want your ads to do well so you’ll spend more money with them. There will be plenty of time for you to tweak and test as you go.
While the ads run, check in on them regularly. If some ads spend a lot but don’t convert, stop them and work on new variations to replace them. Maybe you optimize the text. Maybe you change the audience.
Whatever you do, take your time, and don’t lose sight of your goal.
Speaking of goals, it’s easy to get bogged down in all the metrics these platforms provide.
In all frankness … most of them are not very useful. If your campaign is doing its job — i.e., if it’s accomplishing your goal at a reasonable cost to you — then it’s a success. Period.
Other metrics, such as click-through rate or reach, are useful in diagnosing problems with your campaign, but they mean jack squat if your campaign isn’t doing what you need it to do. Keep your eye on the ball.
Overall, yes, social media ads can be a lot to swallow. But don’t feel that you have to succeed right away, and don’t get discouraged if your ads take a while to show results.
It’s like riding a motorcycle — honing your skills takes time and practice.
The technology of social media ads is new, but the strategy is exactly what you’ve known all along. You’ve got this.