By: Donald Smith
Is social media really “free” advertising like so many have thought? Well, it used to be, but now it is only a strategy in an advertising plan. It is now all about who will pay the most such as advertisement used to be when negotiating who will shell out the most money for the prime time spot. Mike Proulx said it best in his AdAge article, “Let’s call it what it is: Social media marketing is now advertising. It’s largely a media planning and buying exercise.”
Now, I know many people will still claim social media is a form of two-way communication and is mostly unpaid for, which both of those points are true. However, social media is on its way to becoming a one-way form of communication and mostly paid. If it seems skeptical, take a look at the numerous statistics on social media advertising collected by Hootsuite. A couple of statistics that stood out were social media ad spending is predicted to exceed $35 billion and increase 26.3 percent globally in 2017. Since we are in this era of social advertising it would be a great time to find out how best to target these ads.
First, let’s look at where our audiences reside. I’m going to be giving snippets, but if you would like all of the data here is the research conducted by Pew Research Center. So, as usual, Facebook is still the powerhouse with having over 70 percent for all age groups, besides 65+, but they are on a steady increase and sit at 62 percent right now. Meaning social media ads on Facebook are going to hit the largest audience possible, but bigger is not always better. Moving on, Instagram has a way smaller audience size than Facebook, but so do all other social media platforms. The largest audience on Instagram is 18 to 29-year-olds with 59 percent of the 32 percent of users (Pew Research Center, 2016). So, millennials are going to be the best audience to target with advertisements on Instagram. Next, we have Twitter with 24 percent of online adult users. When targeting an audience on Twitter you will want to target 18 – 49-year-olds or those who make a salary of $50,000+. This combined audience makes a little of 50 percent of Twitter’s audience (Pew Research Center, 2016). Then there is Pinterest with 31 percent of online adult users. On Pinterest, women (47 percent) are by far the largest target audience, even tripling the size of the male audience (17 percent) (Pew Center Research, 2016). Lastly, we have LinkedIn with 29 percent of online adult users. LinkedIn is a strange platform because the audience size within the demographics are all similar in size. Therefore, it is up to you to decide on who you want to target. Another good resource to see who and how people use social media is an infographic published on PR Week.
Finally, some ways to help you make the most out of your social media ads. A great way to start it off would be to use the Facebook Open Graph to make sure your content is optimally packaged so you get the most bang for your buck. Another application that could help would be Google AdWords. This application helps make your content easily found on Google, and with it being the number one search engine that is not bad. Also, keep in mind to help people as much as possible as you develop your content. Last, but not least, make sure to put your content on the social media platform that your target audience resides.