Social Media Advertising – How to Use it Effectively

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In many ways, social media advertising is still in its infancy… but there are firm signs that its now growing up. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has now created measurable standards; mainstream companies have grown around it; almost all the main social networks not only have it, but have made a number of speedy shifts just within the last year or so. Facebook changed its privacy policy (secretly at first) so it could do whatever it wanted with feed, content and photos posted by users; then changed it again after their actions came to light. Twitter is just announced that it is moving towards paid advertising.

And, of course, now that it’s a teenager, there’s all sorts of rucus and strong opinions flying around, as people debate whether or not social advertising is likely to be successful.

Predicting the Future of Social Media Patterns

Both sides have used persuasive arguments: Noticing the shift to where companies are spending their advertising dollars is the best indicator of what’s going on. And yes, spending on social media advertising has been increasing extremely quickly over the last couple of years. So much so that eMarketer has moved all its former predictions on social advertising’s future forward to this year – 2010!.

It doesn’t take a psychic to see that social media advertising will have a huge affect on local business too. With geographically targeted ads, local businesses can get in on the act too….most notably Facebook. It has its imperfections: it’s not available in many countries; and on Facebook, if you live outside the US, you can target only by country, which may make this option less viable, but its likely that this will change in the near future.

Some Things Never Change

Social media and trends in social advertising will continue to develop- however there a basic principles that remain the same: Namely:

1. Social media advertising is worth it, even if the percentage of engaged viewers is still small… because for every one active social media viewer, there will be anywhere from 6-14 brought into the fold by that single person. Think of that exponential increase factor – targeted viewers or readers brought in for you by members of your own market.

2. If you are unsure whether the user base is more male than female, or if you know both sexes are represented equally – market to the women. Not only do women nowadays have 80% of the buying power, according to many net sources, men will usually be influenced by the significant females in their lives. A man will often walk into the store and buy the same soap he’s bought for the last 7 years; the woman is the one who will try something new – especially if you make a personal connection in your advertising.

3. Tracking, of course, is still very important. Whatever social network you are planning on using should have some kind of tracking facility. If not, create them yourself or move to a more comprehensive network.

4. Don’t forget the double-edged sword of word-to-mouth recommendations in social advertising. Make sure you deliver what you promise – and if you have unhappy customers everyone will know about it too. (Best to acknowledge it with the customer, fix the mistake and take a proactive stance of your reputation management.)

5. Remember that the one critical factor that your ads all need is a social context. Make sure they are preceded by and linked to social network pages, videos, groups, content. Give your fans a place to mix, converse and share information. Hold contests and polls, ask for feedback, offer virtual gifts. Engage. If your ads don’t blend in the content and style of the site, they will be seen as annoying banners and will be ignored.

6. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater: Meaning… don’t neglect all your other advertising choices – email, offline flyers, website banner ads, AdWords – and track and tweak them all. Social media advertising is best used to compliment these other campaign components, most of the time.

Follow these six tips, and you’ll start to see results while others are still figuring out how to get going.

Source by Caroline L Wright

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