Social Ads Aren’t Billboards: Avoiding the Traditional Marketing Trap

4 min read

social adsAt this point, social media has been around long enough that most marketers know how to avoid the traditional marketing traps that come along with social media. If you’re working with anyone reputable in the social media space, their primary focus is on building a large, highly engaged audience in your target demographic, not on selling. We all know that social media doesn’t act the same as traditional media. What blows my mind is that so many marketers ignore that fact the second they start paying for it.

Once we leave social media management and enter the realm of social advertising, an interesting switch gets flipped. The second people start buying ads, even the savviest social media managers can start regressing to their traditional marketing roots. Maybe they’re too sales-y, maybe they’re not targeting effectively, maybe they’re just ignoring the full capacity of what social advertising can do. Regardless, the difference between effectively investing in social ads and dumping money into a click-bait machine comes down to knowing the difference between traditional and social advertising.

Here are a few tips for your next social advertising campaign:

Don’t Sell if it’s More Than One Click Away

When do you try to sell on social media? My rule is that I never promise anything I can’t deliver in one click. If I’m redirecting people to a blog post, video, or piece of premium content, that’s what I’m advertising. I’m not advertising my client’s product unless I can get it into a consumer’s shopping cart within a few clicks.

By this logic, e-commerce sites, app developers, and software developers should be leveraging the immense power of social advertising to sell because they are uniquely positioned to do so. I can easily take a consumer from Facebook or Twitter directly to a product page or app download. These consumers are always just one degree of separation from a business action that my client cares about.

Let’s say you run a company with more of a brick-and-mortar presence. Maybe you’re a retailer without a strong e-commerce arm, or perhaps an auto dealer looking to move more metal. I’m not saying that social advertising isn’t right for you. I’m saying your approach needs to be different.

Don’t try to sell right away. If a consumer needs to work their way into your physical location, you don’t want to sell to them online. Instead, advertise reasons they should go to your location. Offer coupons, incentives, or even a prized promotion or event sale. You can gate coupons behind a landing page allowing you to capture more leads and nurture them via email until they’re ready to buy.

Focus on Quality of Eyeballs, Not Quantity

With traditional marketing, quantity was king. You gladly paid a premium for billboards at the biggest intersection and major brands were happy to shell out millions of dollars for Super Bowl ad slots. Success with traditional marketing looked like an 800 pound gorilla. Success with social resembles a quick and nimble gazelle.

On social, quantity of eyeballs is irrelevant. I can reach a million people on Facebook ads for next to nothing, but if I’m not hitting the right eyeballs, I’m going to net nothing from my advertising either. The key to maximizing your ad spend on social media is targeting the right people, and while many marketers jump at the chance to micro-target consumers, some eschew that road so they can hit a giant market. While this may drive clicks and short-term results for your clients, it cannot and will not drive long-term business results, and that will lose you business.

Build Your War Room: Leveraging Real Time Data

This is my favorite part of social ads. I can deploy hundreds of ads per campaign, then just wait. After about 12 hours of letting them run, I walk into my own Aaron Sorkin show.

[Lights up on a dimly-lit corner of the PERQ offices. Three glowing computer monitors are displaying Facebook Ads results across campaigns. FELICIA is sitting at the helm of the control panel. TIM enters stage right. He is dressed as an Army General.]

TIM: Status report on yesterday’s infographics.

FELICIA: The infographics are in the 90th percentile of engagement, but our videos are tanking fast.


Okay… Maybe it’s not that quite like a war room, but there is something exciting to me about being able to monitor and control messaging, imagery, and targeting across all campaigns in real time. The real power of social comes in your ability to test absolutely everything and perfect every component of your advertising campaigns using real, actionable data. If you’re creating your messaging in a vacuum and refusing to listen and adapt as the data points you in new directions, you’re failing to do your job as a truly social marketer.

If you’re interested in learning more about social advertising, or want to co-star in my new two man show Facebooker on the Roof, let me know here!