Star Wars describes the Force as something that flows through all things. Darth Vader tells us not to underestimate it and Obi-Wan tells Luke that it binds all things together.
Looking at the social media advertising universe, it is data that binds all things together, influencing creative, audiences, messaging, timing and more. Here are a few lessons to help you learn how to leverage that force to build more powerful, impactful campaigns.
Lesson 1: Focus On Clear Objectives
Your focus determines your reality.
Qui Gon Jinn
Focus is the singular most important element of any successful campaign and lack of focus is the biggest cause of failure. Clear, measurable objectives matter and they will determine your reality.
Once you’ve chosen a campaign objective, use data points on your website and social channels to see if it’s achievable.
- Focus on your objective: Gain 1,000 prospect email addresses.
- Review website data: Based on past data, we see it takes 25 people visiting this form to get one email address.
- Determine web traffic goals: If 25 people = 1 email address, it’ll take 25,000 hits to that web page to get 1,000 email addresses.
- Run social scenarios: Most social ad platforms have a projection tool that shows estimated impressions, clicks or conversions. Insert your budget into these tools to see if reaching 25,000 website hits is achievable.
- Assess and calibrate: If your goal squares with your budget, great! If it’s way under, set more realistic objectives or increase your campaign budget.
Lesson 2: Choose Your Path Carefully
The fear of loss is the path to the dark side.
Too many marketers make decisions based on the idea that if they don’t broadcast their ads to as wide an audience as possible, they will lose to the competition. In reality, finding the right audience is like finding a needle in a galactic haystack and data will help you reach them more efficiently and cost-effectively.
Now you will often have an idea of the audience you want to advertise to, but you need to determine the best time and place to reach them. Here’s how to let data decide:
- Play to network strengths: Each social network has specific strengths that allow you to reach audiences in different ways. LinkedIn, for example, is great for job title targeting, so if your core audience is engineers, you can easily build a LinkedIn audience to reach them. However, if your campaign is focused on a specific engineering technology (say light speed travel), you may want to supplement with Twitter ads which allow you to target based on conversations people are having around that technology because they’re already engaged on this topic.
- In social advertising, size does matter: In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda famously tells Luke that “size matters not” but in advertising, size is everything. Generally speaking, larger audience pools allows the social ad network to glean through its own data algorithm more efficiently to help identify people most likely to respond to your ad. Smaller audiences provide less data for those algorithms, but they’re much more cost effective and can help you do things like individual company or industry targeting. Every campaign is different, so how wide or small a net you’re casting will vary.
- Make audiences compete: You have numerous social targeting options that include existing customer lists, engagement audiences and demographics/interests. Now rather than relying on a single ship to run the marketing blockade, run slimmer, targeted audiences against one another and you can determine which is most effective and then shift direction later based on performance.
Lesson 3: Rely on Data, Not Luck
In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.
Obi Wan Kenobi
The Jedi appear lucky because of their intense training and commitment to learning how to discern which action to take and how attuned they are to the Force guides their way. For the social media marketer, data plays the same role through every step of our galactic advertising journey, enabling us to make educated decisions based in fact, rather than luck.
Now a big part of campaigning is determining what visual and messaging creative elements will be used to promote it. Oftentimes, this leads to staff disagreements, but data resolves them. Here’s how:
- Establish a starting line: Every creative element should conform to brand standards, be relevant to the content being promoted and be tailored to the intended audience. Evaluate what’s worked in the past to infer what will work in the future.
- Test everything: Too often, brands try to distill their campaign down to a single image and message. The danger is that if it works, you have no real idea why and if it fails, you don’t know what to blame. Instead, test a minimum of four core images/videos, four versions of ad copy, three headlines and two calls-to-actions (CTAs). Yes, this takes much longer to set up, but provides invaluable data on which elements are working and why.
- Optimize everything: Long gone are the days of set-it-and-forget-it social ad campaigns. When you launch, you should analyze performance metrics every single day for the first week and at least twice a week after that.
- Remove underperforming images, messages or headlines.
- Shift budgets to images, messages or headlines that are overperforming.
- If a campaign simply isn’t working, turn it off, evaluate the data and try to fix it rather than letting budgets bleed.
- If you’re driving a lot of clicks but no one is converting on your website, evaluate the landing page—does the energy and message of the ad come through? Is your form too long? Make changes. Experiment. Turn your campaign back on and see if it resolves the issue.
- Narrow audiences: For most campaigns, your target audience is buried in a wider audience group (your needle in the galactic haystack) and it is your job to draw people out. One great way to do that is to refine your audiences based on performance.
- If certain countries or states aren’t responding, remove them from your audience pool.
- If certain demographics are responding at rates twice that of everyone else, shift budgets to support them.
- Use engagement audiences and build lookalikes. For example, if you’re running a Facebook campaign using website retargeting, create an engagement audience that represents the most active people. Then use this audience to build a lookalike audience and improve your results even more.
In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.
Knowledge matters and for the social media Jedi, data is the one true source of knowledge. Remember that the more data you leverage when setting up your social media campaigns, the better and more predictable your results will be.
And may the force be with you, always.