Two questions that our agency regularly gets from clients are how to choose a social platform, and how to split their advertising investment between multiple channels. Performance data provides great insights into which platforms deliver the best ROI, and ideally, every business should be using this information to determine where to invest their social ad dollars. However, to get to that point, you first need to know where to start.
This post provides recommendations on how to leverage each social media advertising platform based on your vertical, whether you’re just starting out, or looking for additional platforms to integrate into your existing digital advertising strategy to expand your reach.
Note: Two methods of paid social advertising not included in this article are YouTube and Influencer marketing. We generally consider advertising dollars spent on YouTube to fall under a programmatic media buy, and influencer marketing a separate social strategy altogether.
E-Commerce and Retail
For e-commerce and retail businesses, you want to focus your ad spend on platforms that offer the most robust audience targeting and advertising programs.
Facebook (including Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network) is a must-use for businesses that have e-commerce capabilities. It is the most advanced of the social platforms when it comes to targeting and available creative formats, and it has the largest user base with 2.45 billion monthly users worldwide. For new businesses or those with low brand awareness, Facebook’s audience modeling and demographic segments are the most powerful of the platforms.
Well-established businesses will benefit from Facebook’s audience matching capabilities, which regularly have the highest match rates we have seen across platforms. For e-commerce brands, I suggest allocating at least 75% of your social ad budget to Facebook as you test the viability of other platforms.
For businesses looking to spread their investment across platforms or reach their audience in new ways, Pinterest has made significant improvements to their ad platform. Users on Pinterest have shown a high level of purchase intent, with 66% of users saying that they have made a purchase after seeing branded content on Pinterest.
Since it acts as more of a discovery platform than a traditional social channel, Pinterest provides the capability to target via audience segments or bid on keywords. The shopping capabilities of Pinterest have increased dramatically as well, and the ad formats allow for product details not seen on other platforms. Businesses can directly translate their paid search strategy to Pinterest, significantly decreasing the initial time investment to advertise. To top it off, CPMs and click costs on Pinterest are low compared to Facebook, and now is the time to invest in a built-out presence: between 2018 and 2019, Pinterest’s global user base grew 28% YoY and that growth is expected to continue in 2020.
Business-to-business (B2B) companies will benefit from social platforms with targeting capabilities that help identify decision-makers based on things like job title and industry.
LinkedIn should always be included in the social channel mix of a B2B company. The primary reason is the targeting capabilities that are specific to the platform. Targeting by job title, company, and industry allow for businesses with a small customer list to accurately build out audiences that aren’t available anywhere else. This personal information is more likely to be given on LinkedIn than on other platforms, and more likely to be kept up-to-date. Advertisers on LinkedIn can get reporting on these audience segments as well, something that is not available on platforms like Facebook.
Facebook is not typically the first thought for a B2B company, but those advertisers have recently become a target for Facebook. Facebook has allocated more resources to building out its B2B offering, such as additional relevant targeting segments. I typically recommend allocating at least 25% of a B2B ad budget to testing Facebook as a complement to your LinkedIn strategy. Although the targeting options are not as strong, the target audience members of a B2B company are likely Facebook users and spend on average 44x more time per month on Facebook than LinkedIn.
Professional service brands should take advantage of social platforms that allow them to build out their business listing and contact/appointment booking options.
Facebook is a natural pick for professional services companies. Although users may not be able to purchase directly from the platform, both lead generation and appointment booking capabilities are the most seamless on Facebook compared to other platforms. Additionally, since reviews live on a Facebook page, references are easily discoverable. I recommend that professional service brands allocate at least 60% of your social ad budget to Facebook.
One of the biggest challenges for Professional Services companies is getting their content in front of relevant audiences at the right time, especially if it requires a significant investment. But since the majority of the content on Pinterest is DIY, including recipes, art projects, home improvement, and personal improvement, this provides a unique opportunity for professional services companies to advertise content that naturally aligns with the other content on the platform.
For example, a plumbing company can repurpose or produce blog content that users will see when searching for home improvement projects. And since Pinterest allows users to save content by category, those users can quickly return to that content at the right time without having to perform additional research.
Continue to Reevaluate Your Strategy
As existing social channels mature and new ones emerge, it is important to reevaluate your advertising investment regularly. And keep in mind that if your target audience is a specific age range, social media habits change as new users enter the pool. Staying up-to-date on new features can be time-consuming, but one update can make a platform that was previously off-limits the next best performer.
Regardless of your vertical, there is a social channel mix that will work for your business. And if you aren’t sure where to start, we always recommend testing multiple channels to determine which ones will have the highest ROI.