You’ve got a brief. Your client has given you their audience framework. Eyes glazed and head full of user personas, you glide towards Facebook to find your audience. STOP.
As social media marketers, it’s so tempting to take a brief and go straight to Facebook to find your audience; the platform itself facilitates this behaviour so nicely with the hyper-convenient (though questionably accurate) ‘Campaign Planner’ tool. I’m not saying this is entirely wrong behaviour; a lot of the time your audience will sit on Facebook/Instagram, and as the two most used social media platforms in the world it’s fair to call it the bread and butter of social media marketing.
BUT, not everyone likes bread and butter. Not everyone wants bread and butter when they’re looking to get their car insured, or trying to find the perfect wedding dress, or …. you get the picture.
The reality is the Facebook ‘Campaign Planner’ tool’s way of pinpointing your audience and allocating a nice neat number on which to predict CPA’s is encouraging dangerous behaviour in Social Media Marketers. It encourages us to find our audience on the platform we are most comfortable with, the one that ‘guarantees’ us the numbers we want to see. Instead, should we not be meeting our customers where they are; isn’t that the very core of the ‘people-based marketing’ methodology that so many marketers hold up as the must-have strategy of the 21st century?
Sarah Carter describes this tendency towards marketing that leads towards advertiser centric behaviour brilliantly. She says;
“If we’re to avoid losing touch with our audience, we have to connect with them where they are, and in their own contexts.”
So, how do we do that? I firmly believe a huge chunk of the answer lies in finding the platforms where different audiences live and breathe, and understanding the ways they interact with them. Only then will we truly start to make meaningful movements for our businesses.
Have you ever set out to target an audience on Facebook, only to find they are trickier to identify than you thought? Perhaps you want to find people who own dogs to sell your dog food, but all Facebook can do is give you “Interested in: Dogs”. This opens you up to a whole bunch of people like me, who live in a one bedroom flat three stories up in Central London, but absolutely love watching people’s cute pets and their adventures. Will I buy your dog food? Nope, but I’ll sure cost you in impressions.
This logic applies to a surprising amount of scenarios, such as if you’re looking to encourage someone to book a showroom appointment to inspire a new kitchen purchase, or reach CEOs at big companies with your amazing social media marketing advice *cough cough*.
Be cautious of the meaty ‘interest’ based audiences Facebook offers; be sure to consider if users on this platform are really in the right place and the right mindset to respond to your stunning kitchen tiling creative? Equally, interrogate the legitimacy of ‘Job Title’ and ‘Employer’ targeting on Facebook (I’m looking at those 830k people who claim “Employer — Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry”.) Remember Facebook is a platform for friends & family, not networking colleagues.
My point is, if the platform you’re using doesn’t match the mindset for what you’re trying to sell, it won’t just impact the accuracy of your targeting but also your ad’s reception. It’s not just about interests; it’s about behaviours, demographics & mentality. Whilst there’s no denying Facebook offers a brilliantly wide range of targeting categories, making ideal for reaching users and igniting your brand, it’s not the only place or sometimes not even the best place to find the right kinds of customers.
So, let’s look at some of social’s most undervalued platforms. Who uses them? How, in a more holistic way, can we get comfortable with meeting customers on their preferred platform, literally, mentally and perhaps most importantly, monetarily, rather than on the platforms we want them to be? I don’t have time to talk about every social platform here, though in the coming weeks I hope to be posting longer articles regarding platforms for social advertising and their benefits (watch this space!). For now, I have picked a mixture of those I think most lack recognition by advertisers on social:
Reddit is awesome for targeting, as it allows both broader interest targeting and subreddit targeting, which is a way to reach specific ‘Subreddits’ or conversations. This means if you have a niche product, you can easily reach those individuals in-market and discuss relevant topics. This, along with the fact its core user base is one that is amongst the most difficult to drive meaningful traffic on paid via Facebook (65% Male and 55% under 34) can make it a valuable tool in any Social Media marketers box.
Reddit also has a lot of unique content styles and aspects that, if tapped into, can be majorly profitable for Direct Response and Brand Building alike. For instance, the AMA (Ask me Anything) format which some brands have tapped into perfectly, with awesome results.
I’ve used Linkedin very effectively in the past to reach people at a more senior level in businesses, when trying to reach key decision makers. The more professional function of the platform makes job title targeting 100x more accurate than Facebook; surely worth the slightly elevated CPM’s?
Linkedin may be smaller, and it’s usage might be more infrequent than most social platforms (hence higher costs on the platform), but you’re reaching people in a professional mindset, whilst still having the discovery element unique to social media; a perfect blend for modern B2B marketing.
It also of course has the Sponsored InMail feature, which is pretty unique to Linkedin and allows advertisers a more personal approach to B2B whilst still retaining the accurate targeting of the platform.
Twitter - “See What’s Happening”
Relevancy is central to Twitter, and gives a unique chance to target things that go on in real time. Twitter targeting keeps on top of current affairs in a way Facebook simply doesn’t, with a section of targeting dedicated to “Upcoming Events”, which includes “Recurring Trends” and pretty much everything else, from things as big as the olympics to smaller national holidays.
Users are in the mindset to find out ‘What’s Happening?’ (Twitter’s own tagline) so, if your brand is trying to make a comment on something new and trending, it might just be the best place to post reactive content to try and bolster engagement or drive hype around new product launches.
It’s worth mentioning that for advertisers with meatier budgets, Twitter offers unique features such as ‘Like to remind’, ‘Sponsored Trend Spotlight’ and even ‘First View’ campaigns, making it an immensely powerful tool for pulling brands into the limelight.
Let’s not forget, Twitter is the birthplace of the hashtag, a now universally used piece of social media literature. Moreover, the very term ‘Trending’ is another of its significant contributions to the linguistics of social media.
In short, Twitter is a highly influential platform that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Tiktok is a fascinating platform, opening up a whole new opportunity that Social Media marketers have not had the chance to delve into much; sound! For a huge amount of advertisers, this will be a crucial development in communicating and selling their product to social users.
“If Instagram Stories and Vine had a baby and then infused it with music, that’s TikTok.”
-Ryan Fiore, Vice President of Marketing at Manscaped.
However, the reality of Tiktok right now is that its paid advertising offering is still evolving, so if you’re gearing up to just add a bit of sound to your Facebook ads and send them out, you’ll flop. The young audience is hostile to transparent ad content, but this youthful pool of users in itself presents an opportunity that Facebook simply can’t bring, with 13–17 year olds rapidly becoming their smallest user segment.
The logic is simple; get extremely sticky, sound focused content out there amidst a generation of users soon to become purchasers, and wait until Tiktok becomes a more widely used, ad friendly platform. Bingo.
So we accept we need to approach platforms in the behavioural context of our users, not just the size of their proclaimed audiences or even, dare I say it, the upfront costs we see. With that in mind, next time you receive a brief that states it wants to ‘Expand our presence on relevant social platforms.’ or something equally vague and frustrating, ask these three questions to help you think outside of the platforms.
Who are the audience?
The basic question we should be asking as marketers in general; identify your target audience. What do they like? What do they dislike? How do they spend their time/money/mental energy?
This is the obvious first step in reaching them effectively.
What are you selling?
This is a step a lot of us miss; product is key. The influence of the product you are selling cannot be ignored when finding your audience, and sometimes as marketers it’s easy to detach ourselves from this. Product, service, brand, person, whatever you are, it will impact what frame of mind people are in when they are most likely to consider you.
Always remember; advertisers are the proverbial ‘uninvited guest’ in their audience’s living room, bedroom, kitchen, commute, toilet or wherever else they find themselves scrolling through their feed. As such, we must try to be relevant to customer’s actions, mindsets and desires when on social, not just reaching them wherever is easiest and cheapest.
Where should you look?
Finally, what the bulk of this article has been about; only after answering these 2 questions can you answer this question fully.
Will Facebook likely be part of the answer? Yes. I’m ok with that, Facebook is great; but make sure you're not selling yourself short by exploring the options other platforms have on offer.