Their stories of how each customer’s purchase fuels additional gifts is what drives the company’s vision.
Its Facebook page, which has more than 4.2 million fans, boasts posts that contain similar messaging along with new style and product announcements:
The company’s online success is in part due to the careful way they’ve used a mixture of compelling content and paid social media ads to deliver their messages to targeted consumers at a time when social media algorithms can easily bury branded posts.
James Chong, senior manager of social customer engagement for Toms, shares several takeaways for building a successful social media presence and boosting it with online ads, no matter your organization or budget.
1. Focus your social media efforts.
Chong says a common social media myth is thinking that “you have to be on every social media platform to cast a wide net and drive more results.”
Instead of launching a branded presence on every social media platform, focus on the few where your audience resides. These platforms should also be a fit for your brand voice and content efforts. (For example, if you’re not actively creating videos, don’t start with a YouTube channel.)
“If a certain platform is not moving the needle, PR and marketing pros do not have to waste their efforts on that channel and would be better served by focusing it on the one or two channels that are moving the needle, and scale them up as much as possible,” Chong says.
Along with choosing your top social media platforms, be selective in how you target your audience and the ways you serve up your content—along with how much money you’re spending to do it.
Every social media platform has its own targeting capabilities. The important thing to note is to learn where your audience is and how to most effectively target them to drive the intended result. This all comes from testing and learning, and PR and marketing pros can test out various strategies from going broad to reach large audiences at the lowest cost, or go narrow to find a specific niche audience with the highest likelihood of engaging with your ads at a higher cost. It’s best to test both spectrums as well as different combinations in between to find the optimal targeting strategy unique to their business and organization.
Less is more when it comes to the number of social media profiles your organization has, provided the ones you have are well executed and maintained.
It’s better to ax a platform than leave a barren, inactive social media presence up to represent your brand. This will both boost your organization’s image as well as stretch budget dollars.
“Resources are limited and so time, energy, and budget have to be allocated to the platforms that make the most sense for your business in order to make the biggest impact,” Chong says.
2. Put consumers first.
To create content that truly grabs consumers’ attention and entices them to interact with your organization online, you must put their behaviors and needs first, instead of purely looking at your business and campaign goals.
“Put yourself in the fans’ shoes and design content that will be a thumb stopper as they’re quickly scrolling through their feed,” Chong says.
Though you can (and should) frequently share ideas and content with other departments, including marketing and advertising, be careful that you’re not trying to fit an existing piece of content (such as a commercial) into a social media effort where it doesn’t resonate.
Social media should be included in the beginning of branded content planning to make sure assets created fit the social platforms and their unique specs and best practices. Trying to fit branded content pieces made for other platforms (like TV or print) into social media will limit the ads’ engagement and likelihood of success.
“They must work hand in hand to achieve success whether the objective is engagement and reach or traffic and sales,” Chong says.
Social listening analytics, consumer feedback and audience behavior data can give you a starting point to what types of content resonates with fans, but you should also test and tailor your posts.
Stand out from the feed with engaging colors, lifestyle imagery, and text overlay, and be prepared to test all the different variations of assets to find what your audience engages with most. And ensure you test it across audiences and platforms as well because the winning recipe can change due to all the variables involved in social marketing.
3. Use your budget wisely.
Social media platforms are becoming more “pay to play” each day, and you’ll probably have to spend money to get your content in consumers’ news feeds. Use those dollars wisely, especially if you don’t have a lot of them.
Chong says that one of the ways to stretch your budget is to launch “dark post ads,” which are ads that use the messages and images from existing social media posts that have already found success.
Don’t pay to boost your organic content, especially if your community is already interacting with them.
Dark posts provide much more flexibility in terms of objective, ad unit visual, call-to-action, and analytics than a simple boosted post. One example is a dark post can have a call-to-action button such as ‘Learn More’ or ‘Shop Now’ versus a boosted post which does not contain this button.
Using this strategy ensures that you have a clear action associated with the money you spend, so you can measure the ad’s effectiveness—and often, you’ll pay less per post.
“Brand managers can drive performance on a small budget by running dark ads with a very clear and concise call-to-action and going broad with targeting which tends to have lower auction costs,” Chong says.
4. Measure everything.
Don’t just measure your efforts once your campaign is over, either.
Chong spends each day looking at key performance indicators to recognize trends and patterns that can inform his decisions, followed by more measurement to ensure that his efforts are providing the best ROI.
“It all starts and ends with analyzing our KPIs to ensure performance is moving in the right direction, and I utilize these insights to drive optimizations in our ads as well as in directing our creative and targeting strategy,” Chong says.
By gathering analytics throughout your campaign, you can avoid wasting money on targeting efforts that aren’t fruitful and more efficiently reach (or even surpass) your goals.
Becoming well acquainted with social media metrics also hones your skill set in ways that often open doors for greater collaboration across departments and future opportunities both at your organization and within the communications industry.