Social media, digital media and other hocus pocus

15th May 2020

I struggled to get my head around digital media at first. I made mistakes because I wasn’t sure how it worked and I didn’t know what questions to ask. But then I found some good people who explained things in a non-techy way and now I know what I’m doing. I’m not an expert by any means, but I do understand how to run a successful campaign. 

Think of digital media like a car. You get into your car and drive without knowing exactly how the engine works. If you really wanted to know how it worked, you’d get a mechanic. The same goes for digital media. You don’t need to operate under the bonnet. You use an expert for that bit. You just need to know how to operate the bits that get you somewhere.  

I hope this article helps you understand those bits!

What is digital media marketing?

In years gone by, we used billboards, TV, radio, mail drops and press advertising to reach the target audience, and while all of this is still relevant, the potential to reach your audience is extraordinary when you add digital media into the mix.

Digital media marketing refers to all your internet-based marketing, e.g. Google search advertising, creating good-quality content for your website, making sure your website is search engine optimised (SEO), the content you put out on social media and the paid advertising you do on these channels. 

What is social media advertising?

Social media advertising is paid communication on social media platforms that tightly targets customers based on age, gender, geographical areas, interests, jobs and so on. You’re not talking to the people who already follow you on social media. You’re reaching lots more new people out in the world who are likely to buy from you.

But you have to be specific about targeting. You have to know who buys or is likely to buy your product or service. If you go for a blanket approach and target no specific demographic, you might as well stick a billboard up in your back garden. Your results will be hit and miss at best. 

There are lots of social media platforms and part of the plan is picking the right ones, but more of this later. Put simply, social media advertising is a fantastic way to reach out, connect with and engage lots of new customers who are likely to be interested in your product or service. When done right, it can be incredibly powerful and effective.  

Setting goals for your advertising 

The first thing you need to do is decide on the goal of your online advertising strategy. Is it awareness of your brand? A direct sales message? Driving more people to your website to collect their details for follow-up emails? Not knowing what you want your advertising to do will yield poor results and cost you time and money. 

For me, these are the goals you should think about and discuss with your digital media people:

• increase visibility: perfect if you want more brand awareness and more people to know about you.

• increase engagement: this kind of campaign is designed to encourage people to talk to you, ask questions, seek answers or reassurance etc.

• increase lead generation: this is about flagging down people who might be interested in you for follow-up by sales teams.

• increase sales: a straightforward campaign aimed at driving sales.

You can have one or more of these goals, but be clear with your digital people about which ones you want. 

What are the digital and social media platforms?

Now you know what kind of campaign you want, you need to decide which platform/s would suit your brand best. I tend to let the digital team guide me, but I also like to know why they recommend a particular route. There are various ways to get that message out using the likes of google ads, pay per click, and remarketing based on the analysis of the campaign.

Here’s a brief explanation of the social media channels.

Facebook: Facebook has lots of attention-grabbing ad formats which are excellent for engaging consumers, but it also has the ability to reach B2B customers. It has great targeting tools to help you uncover lots of potential new customers.

Instagram: Best used for Business to Consumer, Instagram is good for driving awareness and increasing web sales. Their ad formats allow you to create striking visuals and content, which engage people and drive conversations.

Twitter: Offers excellent value and great targeting opportunities, helps grow awareness and drives people to your website. Twitter thrives on what’s new so it’s ideal for new product launches. 

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is designed for B2B interactions. LinkedIn campaigns help gain visibility, generate leads, grow your reputation and boost traffic to your website through thought-leadership content.

TikTok: This is a relatively new channel and popular with younger consumers (14-24 year olds). It can be used by creating your own channel and uploading relevant videos, working with influencers or pay to advertised on the channel. Many brands do a combination of running their own channels and working with influencers to spread content to a broader audience. 

Choosing the right social media platform.

Of course, you should know your core demographic before you set out to do any kind of advertising activity, i.e. who is your target audience, what are they like and what do they want. When it comes to social media, your digital expert will help you understand which platform they’re likely to be on. 

Different platforms have kinds of users and different ways of communicating, and that means it’s a bit of a juggling act to make sure your advertising messages suit the platform, and align with your brand and brand voice. The trick is to find common ground – find a message that will work for the different kinds of audiences and platforms, and stay open to engaging with people you weren’t expecting. 

One of the great things about advertising on social media is that you can very quickly see how your campaign is performing. You start to see patterns emerging that reveal more detail on the interests, behaviours and demographics of people who respond to your advertising. Using this knowledge, you can tweak your plan to reach more of these kinds of people, and less of the people you don’t want. 

Always save and store your campaign results because that will allow you to build better and better campaigns over time. 

Creating the right content.

By now, you know your goals and platforms. Now for your content, i.e. your ads. 

Here’s the most obvious statement you’ll ever read. People engage with ads that attract their eye and appeal to their interests. Obvious as that might seem, it would surprise you the amount of time I see ads that are confusing, boring or plain ugly. It’s such a wasted opportunity. 

If you’re going to spend money on ads, make them look good, engage your target audience and speak with your brand tone of voice. Make your ads work hard by engaging a designer and a copywriter. It’s not as expensive as you might think. When you’re briefing them, be clear about your goals, your audience and your brand voice, and let them deliver great ads that drive engagement for you. 

Don’t forget about animation and video, which also make for striking content that people are more likely to engage with and share. And unless you know what you are doing, don’t make video on your mobile phone. For a very small cost, do it properly and I promise you will get great results.  

Get the reports and act on them.

So, armed with all the right tools, your ads go live and almost immediately you’ll get reports and feedback. This is the real strength of digital media. In the early days, I got these reports and they might as well have been quantum science. My advice is to get your digital person to explain them and back it up with facts. The more familiar you get with these reports, the better you’ll get at reading them. 

The reports will let you know exactly how your campaign is performing, where it’s strong, where it’s weak, and how you might change the message or platform for better results.  

There is no such thing as a stupid question when you’re footing the bill so if you have any doubts or questions, or if there’s anything you’re not sure about, ask your digital person. If you have good people, you won’t have a problem. Good people make such a difference.

The most important thing to remember is that the first campaign may not result in a huge number of sales, but it will give you enough information to refine and revise for better results. 

One last thing, don’t let your message and ads get repetitive, stale or boring. You’ll be investing some hard cash in these campaigns, so you want them to work as well as possible. Send your ads out into the world, see how they perform and refresh them often. 

My top tips for advertising online

• Don’t get bogged down in the technical hocus pocus. You don’t need to know how it works under the bonnet.  

• Engage a good digital media person or company, but be clear what you need them to do.

• Engage good creatives/copywriters, so you have the most engaging ads.

• Make sure you get your reports and a thorough breakdown of what they mean.

• Never be worried about challenging the information – it is, after all, yours.

• Maintain your brand integrity, no matter who you’re talking to or what platform you’re on.

Andy Rice