Every new and growing business seems to be using paid social traffic these days, and for very astute reasons. It can be a great way to acquire new customers in an inexpensive and targeted way. Unfortunately, we often see these businesses trying to get new customers by using a strategy that looks an awful lot like throwing spaghetti at a wall. (It’s more like throwing money into a fire pit.)
So, how does a business that doesn’t have a budget for a marketing firm get ahead of this trend? How can they survive in a sea of high-spending businesses and aggressive marketing agencies? We’ve spent more than $100 million on Facebook and Instagram ads in the past few years and have found five main points that tend to ring true, regardless of platform or industry, that every marketer should be aware of:
1. Understand that everything is an algorithm.
In this day and age, data and computers tend to control everything. Google has its own system to bid on keywords for placement against other businesses. Facebook has an algorithm that takes into account relevance as well as an auction based on varying metrics. Every platform has different metrics that they use to decide where and when your ad will be displayed to a potential customer.
Since each platform has its own algorithm, there is also a clear difference as to how a business might alter their marketing plan. Google is based upon a user’s action while Facebook is based on a user’s intent. When you deliver ads through Google, you are displaying ads to a user who has specifically searched for what you may be offering. When you deliver ads through Facebook, you are displaying ads to someone based upon their past history.
While I prefer Facebook as my primary paid traffic channel, using a bit of each platform for a well-rounded approach is suggested.
2. Don’t expect your business to be an advertising titan overnight.
With every one of these platforms, you can quickly lose large sums of money. I’ve seen countless businesses and entrepreneurs catch a glimmer of success with their ads. They start dumping money on a campaign that is working and eventually they outspend or over-budget themselves. This leads to campaigns completely dying out and the business owner left shaking their head, often times saying: “Well that system just doesn’t work for us.”
Take Facebook, for example. Its algorithm favors those who allow ads to optimize over time. It’s called the “Learning Phase.” Try to double or triple your budgets while your campaigns are still in this mode and you can potentially kill off any opportunity you may have had.
As much as social advertising can excite a business owner with the prospect of “getting rich” by putting a ton of money into fast-growing ads, it’s best to take the approach of slow and steady growth based upon each platform’s algorithm.
3. Know how to scale.
Let’s say you are a business owner who is having some initial success with your ads, but you’re now at the point of scaling things up a bit. Should you double your budgets, add in new creative or duplicate them?
Our strategy is to duplicate and split-test our campaigns while making sure that we don’t oversaturate our audiences and bid against ourselves. We like to do this because it allows us more over the growth of our campaigns, shows who and how many people see the ad, and prevents each campaign from losing any optimization it may have utilized per platform. It can be quite the balancing act, but it works effectively for us.
4. Use free tools for education.
Too often business owners will buy information from courses or the latest shiny thing. While expensive training and coaching can be of great benefit, there are way too many free resources out there. YouTube channels, Facebook groups and other business forums can give you a doctorate’s worth of knowledge for free. I often spend a couple of hours per day reading various Facebook marketing groups looking for little golden nuggets of information.
5. Be unique.
It has been said that imitation is the best form of flattery, and while that may be true, a well-thought-out unique campaign can light a fire under your advertising efforts. A great example of this is the Harmon Brothers’ campaign for Squatty Potty. It’s so ridiculously unique that it’s no wonder it has over 1 million Facebook shares.
When advertising a campaign like this that’s relevant and engaging, you can set up your cost to advertise at a ridiculously low level. Think about all the ways in which you are different and try to exploit them in a fun way.
To sum this all up: You don’t have to be a household name to capture people’s attention. Focus on small growth areas and steadily scale your advertising campaigns over time. Be creative while talking about your unique selling proposition and people will be talking about you. Your phone may even jingle a bit more during the process.