With all the changes to data and data privacy in the social space, knowing how to get the most out of your paid campaigns on these platforms can separate standard campaign benchmarks from those that exceed expectations.
Facebook has been in the hot seat recently regarding its use and management of user data. As Facebook is so regularly talked about and houses one of the largest digital ad networks around, we’re using Facebook as a primary example throughout this post. But, the principles and tactics we outline below are just as applicable to marketing on any social platform. It will always depend on the data you’re going use, but there’s also a need for a general understanding of what it takes to construct a data strategy.
How to get started: Social data strategy
Think back to your own previous media campaigns; Facebook users fall within two distinct sets:
Small businesses: For a small business, it can be incredibly easy to run a campaign that utilizes Facebook data, in that you literally see the option to “boost” a post on every Facebook business page post. A small business can select that button, put $50 behind a specific post or set of posts and, generally, you’ll get good results.
Large businesses or brands: A larger business or brand will want—and likely need—to invest more of a spend to reach an inherently larger audience and drive larger-scale results. That boost button is still there, but because the desired reach is greater, and the engaged audience is presumably bigger, the time and budget required to manage this effort scale significantly as well.
To break this down even further, think of the data applied to these two use cases in terms of three layers:
Your own Facebook data: The Facebook data you know about your users, clients and customers – how they act, what they consume, etc.
Data that clients may have: This is data that we may own about our customers through other non-social channels – sales, email subscribers, etc.
Third-party data: This data is from third-party companies that Facebook allows to be imported into the platform.
In many cases, as a good first step, advertisers can start using Facebook data or start with their own data. For larger businesses, it’s always good to think deeper and to look at ways to use that base level of Facebook data alongside your own data. That can be an incredibly valuable starting point.
A new, innovative approach to social media advertising
This can get interesting and valuable: In many cases, people will buy a Facebook ad with a fire-and-forget approach. Buy the desired number of impressions, let it run its course and look at the results.
Instead of that standard approach, imagine structuring a Facebook campaign so that the front-end data that identifies your audience isn’t the only fuel to get the campaign started and active. Rather, add data from an additional source to help refine how you speak to your audience to optimize the campaign and drive results while also then loading those results back into the campaign to make it more efficient.
Front-end data gets you going, but as a campaign starts, as data is generated, that campaign can be further refined to maximize impressions with your ideal audience.
Here’s how to implement this approach:
- Build a data-friendly campaign. Rather than building one campaign to fit the desired audience, build multiple layers of the same campaign. Instead of one, you might have six, seven, eight campaigns all running together, driving to the same result. They’re all doing different things to get you there. By leveraging each campaign against the others in real time, you can enhance the overall result and assign resources to the high-performing segments.
- Build a basic campaign structure that fits. If you want to drive awareness of a product or brand, you’re basically trying to reach people and let them know who you are. You want them to then move from awareness to the next funnel stage – consideration. Now they know who you are and you want them to take an action—make a purchase or take a step. Then you want to try and engage those people who buy or sign up or whatnot to become advocates to help influence others in the platform.
Simple, right? Not so fast – one of the key challenges with social is that it’s historically difficult to see a direct correlation between social activity and sales. The classic case of not knowing how or if social worked. But, if you build a social campaign that directly aligns with specific business goals, it’s be easy to show success or general performance.
Tie social media data into your sales funnel
What we’re really talking about is a social media-supported purchase funnel approach, supported by data. When you run a flat or basic Facebook ad, you can’t create that funnel. But, if you break it down into, say, four different campaigns for each of those four funnel stages, structured with data that drives each of the four outcomes (awareness, consideration, purchase and advocacy), you can be specific with the different customers you target for different stages.
If we already know a person is a customer, based on data outside of Facebook and their purchase history, we wouldn’t target them for awareness or consideration, right?
Depending on the level of detail you have on a lead in your CRM or other platform, you can move those customers to the later stages of the funnel. You can also use their attributes on social to refine your target audience for the front of the funnel by looking for leads with similar or identical social activity.
Now, say you reached someone at the awareness part of the funnel. They’ve engaged and are now considering. The action they take and the Facebook code you’ve presumably put on your website will move them to the next stage, consideration. This allows the messaging and content to stay fresh and relevant, and keep people moving down the funnel, while also maximizing your impressions and minimizing serving redundant awareness messages.
In essence, your campaigns generate data that’s thrown back into consideration to identify where a person is within those funnel stages. Then, even as you move through awareness and consideration, you can start to be intentional in designing an experience that helps marketers understand a lead’s interest at each stage.
For example, if at the awareness stage, instead of running a photo, you run a video designed with different trigger points to learn how much of the video people watch? If a lead watches 75%, they’ll presumably be more interested than someone who watches only 10%, right? You can start to segment your interest level in each funnel category and prioritize marketing dollars and impressions accordingly.
If all this sounds fascinating but potentially chaotic – you’re not wrong. One of the great things about this structure is that it’s incredibly powerful. The ability to segment people in real time based on real-time data signals means that you’re able to be very intentional with your efforts. This can be incredibly compelling for existing, potential or former customers, in that you’re able to provide messaging that speaks to specific groups of people and their engagement history with the campaign.
Integrate paid social strategy into larger campaign planning
The great thing about this approach is that it all comes down to how you plan your campaign. Big or small, any brand or marketing team can execute this kind of plan as long as it’s well defined at the beginning:
- Start by looking at how people are interested in different messages and different types of engagement with you or your brand.
- Narrow your audience to find better quality prospects.
- Pull data from those prospects and use it to move people forward, but also model and find more like them on social.
At the end of the day this is all designed to drive brand or business results. The measurement is less in the data it generates, and more in the results it creates. As we know, one of the key historical challenges with social is how to know how or if your efforts worked. Today, those same challenges are still present, but with well-defined data-driven plans like these, you can directly align results with business objectives, which can be far more valuable than numbers of likes, retweets and other standard measurements.
With social, the results and campaign performance data you receive reflects the effort, planning and organization you put in at the beginning. When you think of social campaigns as proverbial living, breathing organisms, results can be very different. That’s when you see the magic.