There are two primary goals with most social campaigns: brand awareness or defined response. These goals are nearly mutually exclusive in terms of the tactics required for success and they show little overlap in terms of results.
In most cases brand awareness campaigns are going to be leveraging a base of organic activity through in-channel promotions. These types of promotions are things like:
Facebook sponsored stories: these are organic posts that get a sponsored “push” to get in front of more of your audience. They leverage the friend network of your page fans to boost the traditional reach of a page from an average of 16% to something higher (no guarantee given of course).
Twitter promoted accounts: this gets your account into the recommended accounts section for your target users. This soft sell requires significant organic awareness as it works as a trigger point to get followers, but can be effective for the right brand at the right time.
LinkedIn sponsored posts: these are in development but seem to be close to launch. Essentially they seem to offer the ability for the sponsor to ensure their posts show on the ever-shifting news feed of their followers. These have been promised for all users sometime in 2013.
How to use
While there is no technical reason that a defined response couldn’t be requested in the sponsored story but care must be taken. When you sponsor stories in the news feed of your followers and their friends you are injecting your message into a constructed feed of which users can be very protective.
Provide only your very highest quality materials in these sponsored stories, and use them sparingly. Think about promoting third-party causes that are aligned with your brand goals to generate a win-win for both them and you. And, of course, measure the lift generated and see if that moves your brand needle.
When you’re looking to get a very specific response such as a newsletter sign up, a survey completion, etc. then you’re better off using the more “ad” focused features on the major platforms. The reason is simple, promotions and ads for specific actions “feel” more like ads to users and they do not want these demands in their news feeds.
Facebook ads: contrary to popular belief, these ads can exceed traditional display ads shown on networks and Klick’s media team has driven good results with them. This is the place for “sign up” or “join us” messages. They are unobtrusive, yet persistent and highly targeted and can get to a larger audience than just friends of friends.
Twitter promoted tweets: these are organic tweets that can be targeted at non-followers using geography, device, gender, and most importantly, user interests. These posts show up in the user’s main feed so even though they are more “ad-like” the sponsor needs to be careful about the message sent. Because Twitter is more of a news service than a hangout it is felt that the feeds can support more response type messaging.
LinkedIn ads: also highly targetable, these ads can be more response-focused. An interesting option from LinkedIn is the ability to use a SlideShare presentation as the ad itself. This blurs the line between branding activities through knowledge sharing and traditional ads. This new service looks to be worth investigation.
How to use
Ads are segregated into specific areas of the social networks, and are clearly marked on Twitter, so the users on these platforms know what to expect from them. The advertiser can make much more direct requests of the user and target specific transactions.
When thinking about your social advertising, look at your branding activities and your targeted response activities differently so you use the right channel for the right message and you maintain your good social standing with your audience.