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Six social media advertising mistakes you need to avoid

6 minute read

Zoe Bicknell

Social media advertising is a cost-effective and powerful way for businesses to reach targeted audiences, and with over 50 million businesses using a Facebook Business Page and Twitter placing adverts on 1 billion devices every month, it’s no surprise competition is high when it comes to social advertising. This means optimising advertising campaigns is key to success for small businesses.

Although setting up an advertising campaign across social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn is fairly intuitive, there are some common factors that can be easily missed that affect the performance of a campaign, causing higher costs for lower reach and engagement. In today’s article I’m going to look at six common social advertising mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.   

1. Selecting the wrong objective

Part of the setup for social advertising campaigns is selecting the objective, and this is often the first thing you need to do. In the haste to get targeting and working on the visuals for your campaign, it’s easy to give this area little thought. With many of the social advertising platforms, there’s quite a lot of different objectives you can choose from, with more and more being added as they try to optimise campaigns further.

For example, on Facebook you’ve got over 10 objective options and with Twitter advertising you’ve got just under that. Aside from the more common objectives such as video views, engagement, and clicks there’s actually lots more to explore from messages to app installs, so there’s a huge potential to really achieve a specific objective.  

Tips to avoid this:

  • Think about what you want your advertising campaign to achieve before you begin to set it up. Before you go for the familiar objectives, think carefully about all your options.
  • Experiment and test different objectives, considering the relevance to your audience and how much each interaction costs.
  • Don’t be afraid to spend some budget and try a new objective if you think it could work for you.

2. Targeting the wrong audience 

We’ve spoken about the importance of targeting the right audience before but it’s worth mentioning again, as it really is fundamental to your campaign’s success. Reaching the right audience means your advert will be more relevant and the cost for engagement is going to be lower, allowing you to get more for your budget.

The common mistake made when it comes to targeting is down to a lack of time spent on the set-up section of the social campaign. The targeting dashboard on many social advertising platforms is designed to be easy to use for everyone but this can mean all the targeting options are easy to overlook.

For example, on Facebook Ads a garden centre could type in gardening as an interest which brings a potential reach of a whopping 10,000,00 people, which on its own is very broad. While it’s tempting to put in a few broad interests in the targeting section and click next in eagerness to get a social campaign up and running it’s vital to dig deeper and target your audience via more than just interests.

Tips to avoid this:

  • Alongside interest targeting, think how you could also target your audience, through age, gender, and location.
  • Define who you want to target on social media using your wider business strategy as a guideline.
  • Make use of online analytic dashboards, such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, to learn about your online audience.
  • Keep an eye on your potential reach, making sure it’s not too broad or similarly too narrow.
  • Learn from previous campaigns by using performance statistics to guide future targeting options, for example perhaps 40-65 year olds reacted best to your last campaign so you can try targeting just this demographic.

3. Writing content that doesn’t match the social platform and objective 

Alongside good targeting and eye-catching imagery, the content or text of your advert needs to be good too. A common mistake when it comes to social advertising is not tailoring the content to the social platform or the objective of the campaign. Although Twitter’s famous tweet limit has been doubled Twitter users are probably still used to shorter, sharper messages, and while you don’t want to include a lengthy paragraph on Facebook you could probably get away with writing some more copy.

Secondly the copy within the advert has an important role in encouraging people to do what you want them to do. While you don’t want to enter clickbait territory it’s an easy mistake to not tailor your content to match what action you want the audience to take.

Tips to avoid this:

  • Spend time writing your ad copy, maybe even draft up your messaging and get some feedback from your team or colleagues before you go to set up your campaign.
  • Test different messages within ad sets so you can see what type of language and length works best.
  • Think carefully about which social platform you’re advertising on when writing your ad copy, for example language used will differ between Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Keep your copy concise and make it clear what you want the audience to do.
  • Keep those customer personas nearby when writing your copy, so you can always refer back to them.

4. Having a weak CTA 

For social advertising campaigns to be effective, it needs to be really clear to your target audience what you want them to do. Don’t try to ask your audience to do too many things in one advert, but rather keep your objective concise and in mind throughout the whole process.

Tips to avoid this:

  • Making sure you choose an appropriate CTA buttons within your advert (Facebook Ads gives you a variety of options from ‘Read More’ to ‘Shop Now’).
  • Keep in mind your objective when you’re writing the copy for your advert.
  • Make it clear what you want your audience to do within your advert, for example encouraging them to read more to click through to a full article.

5. Bad imagery or no imagery at all 

Standing out on a social platform is hard, and often in the hast of scrolling and consuming lots of content in a short period of time, imagery is the key to being noticed. You can have the best targeting in the world but if your imagery isn’t appealing, relevant, or eye-catching it’s likely it will just be scrolled past without a flicker of recognition.

Images are so important, they’re responsible for 75-90% of an ad’s performance on Facebook, and with social media platforms like Instagram created just for sharing visual content it shouldn’t come as a surprise just how important imagery is to getting your paid campaign right.

Tips to avoid this:

  • Using imagery within your social media campaigns, from your own library if possible, so pictures or videos of your business, products, or services, rather than stock photography.
  • Make sure that your images are the right sizes for the platform, for sponsored posts or tweets this normally means the image sizes that you use for your organic posts.
  • Try to think outside the box a little and make your image unique, perhaps you could try something a little humorous or you could have a great picture of your happy customers (with their permission for it to be used).
  • Make sure the imagery you use matches your brand so when people click onto your website from the ad they can clearly see they’ve landed in the right place for the right business.
  • Test different images – set up a campaign with multiple ad sets using different imagery so you can learn what type of picture or video your target audience reacts best to.

6. Ignoring past or running campaigns 

Once a campaign is up and running it’s easy to cross it off your list and leave it to spend the budget you’ve allocated. This is one of the biggest social advertising mistakes made by many of us, as there’s much you can learn from past and running campaigns.

Not only can you learn what to do better in your next advertising campaign from your previous ones, especially if you’ve done some testing of imagery or content, you can even stop or change ineffective campaigns if you’re spending a lot of budget per interaction, or if your audience just isn’t reacting to your ad as you expected. If you’re running a campaign that perhaps focuses on engagement or link clicks, it’s quite possible that you may get a few comments on your sponsored posts, so it’s important you monitor these so you can respond appropriately.

Tips to avoid this:

  • Keep track of past or running campaigns within a spreadsheet, so you can easily see and evaluate the major metrics (cost per click (CPC), relevancy, and impressions).
  • Make a note of what type of imagery and content has worked well in previous campaigns so you can use this to base your future ones on.
  • Set up regular reminders to monitor your running campaigns, on Outlook or even your phone.

Advertising on social media can be a great way for your small business to reach and engage a targeted audience, for a reasonable cost. It is however easy to fall victim to some common mistakes, by using these top tips you’ll be able to avoid these and optimise your social campaigns to achieve great results.

Zoe works as a Content Marketing Executive at the UK Domain. Previously working in advertising and the sporting industry, Zoe has over four years experience in marketing.

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