How are Social Media Ads Similar to Plane Crashes?

If I had a penny for every time someone says… “Facebook Ads don’t work” or  “Social Ads don’t work”….

And every single time  I think…  social ads failure  is similar to plane crashes.  Why do planes crash? sometimes they crash because of a mechanic problem. But most of the time they crash because of  human error of some kind.  So why do a lot of social ads fail? I would dare to say that lots of them fail because of human error.

What are the most typical human errors?

1- Failure to choose the right channel for your social media ads.  Part of Social Media Strategy is selecting the right social channels for your business.  While an ecommerce business most likely will do well with a presence on facebook and pinterest, a B2B business may do better focusing their efforts on Linkedin and twitter.  But beyond this step, selecting the right platform for your social media ads is a critical step. Why? because the targeting capabilities from each platform are different.  Before allocating a budget for social ads on any of the platforms, make sure you are able to target your campaign audience as closely as possible to the audience you target in your marketing efforts overall  For example, if you have a business selling wedding gowns, your ability to target engaged women in a campaign is invaluable.  So will you do better running an ad on facebook showing your ads to engaged women ages 22 to 35? or running an ad on twitter targeting women in general?

2- Failure to understand that your social media ads need to be supported by your social media strategy overall.  

One of the beauties of the Social Media Platforms is that they offer business users the opportunity to execute their social media marketing as a 2-prong effort.  You can execute your own community engagement strategy directly by posting to your pages and by tweeting your content, but you can also leverage the ads platform to grow your user base by acquiring new followers, and to ensure delivery of relevant messages to your existing community.  It is not necessarily an either/or proposition. In fact,  leveraging both the direct contact and the reaching out through ads can probably give you an optimized scenario where you use both approaches to increase your user acquisition, and to improve your engagement in a targeted way.   For example, you realize that although 25% of your followers are based in California.  When you look at the people interacting with your page, the users in California represent only 5% of your total engaged users.  You can try increasing the interaction with your followers in California by promoting a post designed to resonate more with clients in that state.

3- Monitor the right metrics. This should be an easy one. Except when it isn’t.  Monitoring campaign performance on the social platforms is a challenging endeavor. The analytics provided are limited and require time and effort to understand what is really working.  But assuming you are using a tool (even if it’s just excel) to analyze your performance data, I have seen time and time again the focus on the wrong metrics.  For example, some people focus all their efforts on tracking the Click-through-Rate (CTR) for each ad. The CTR basically tells you the percentage of users that are clicking on your ad as a ratio to the impressions.  In other words, it tells you who liked your ads.  But here is a little problem. The people who like your ads are not necessarily the people that will result in a conversion. They may click on it because they liked the image used, or because the text on your ad sounded intriguing. But if they don’t convert (independent of your definition of a conversion), that was a click wasted.  Bottom line…. focus on conversion metrics. A good example of this may be a game company driving traffic to their facebook game. People click on their ad because it has really cool images but once they do, they may have no interest in installing or playing that game. If you are only looking at the CTR for that ad, you don’t know you are wasting money. CTR by itself is not a great metric.  Combined with Install rates in this example you get the information that you need, which is not only whether your ad is driving people to click on the ad, but whether those are the users interested in installing your game.

4- Use the right tools.  I doubt anyone can run successful social media ad campaigns by just looking at the analytics dashboards provided by the social media platforms. They are very basic and do not provide an easy way to get the information you need, to visualize trends, and to better understand your demographics.  So if you are going into battle by running social media ads, make sure you are bringing the right equipment to fight that battle.

In summary, to minimize the human error contribution to social ads failure:

1- Choose your social media ads platform carefully. They maybe a subset of the platforms where you have a social media presence

2- Leverage your social media assets and support your efforts selectively with execution of carefuly targeted ads

3- Monitor the right metrics. Hint: it’s usually not separate metrics but a combination of metrics what tells you a real story

4- Use the right tools. Do not try to spend significant money on ads if you are not also investing on the tools to support your efforts


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