September 1, 2022

Pay to Play: Diversifying Your Social Media Program

Social Media

The New Game Plan for Building Product Brands

When developing a social media program for your building materials brand, one of your primary goals is to gain new followers and potential customers. Doing so requires researching your target audience and then promoting quality content that will be compelling and interesting to architects, specifiers, developers, contractors, and others.

The first step to establishing a presence on social media is through organic posting, which carries no cost but requires planning, effort, and ongoing cultivation.

Organic social media efforts build brand awareness, provide efficient customer service, and strengthen relationships with customers and partners. A strong program features a strategic mix of content. This includes thought leadership articles developed by your subject matter experts that position your brand with insight and perspective, all populated on your company’s website. The content mix should also include information on your solutions and products, news the company seeks to share, and construction projects that have included your brand’s products, demonstrating the success of your solutions in a real-world scenario. Perhaps that content mix also provides a window into your people and your company culture or infographics that capture the latest trends in the industry. Such a mix will resonate with the stakeholders most important to your brand.

When your brand shares these free posts, you can expect that a percentage of your followers, their followers, and people following any hashtags you use will see the post. At the most basic level, organic social media nurtures connections with customers in large volumes.

Social media has evolved, and following this singular approach – organic posting – has its limitations.

Since the major social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter – use ranking algorithms, only a small percentage of your followers see your organic posts. For example, the average organic reach on Facebook is only 5.5 percent. Organic reach has been on the decline in recent years as social media platforms reach saturation levels, attention spans shorten, and platforms prioritize “meaningful” user experiences.

To unlock the full benefits of social media, your brand needs to consider and then adopt strategies for paid social media posts. Paid social media, or social media advertising, takes your social media to a new level either through boosting organic content or creating unique ads. With paid social media, your brand can reach a larger audience, target ideal customers, and drive leads and conversations.

Increasing the Spend

According to Hootsuite’s 2022 Social Trends Survey, marketers planned an increase in spending on social media advertising for all channels. That increase came with an increased requirement for creativity.

"Consumers, wise to the sameness of social advertising, are holding brands to a higher standard when it comes to creativity—but they’re also rewarding those that get it right. Brands that want to stand out in 2022 will have to work harder to create ads that mirror and enrich the distinct experience offered by each social network.” – Hootsuite

Paid advertising on social media means changing the game plan in this new world of social media engagement. Consider some of these guidelines as you begin committing dollars and developing creative for paid social media advertising:

  • Be open to experimenting. To keep up with the changes in the social media landscape, your organization must welcome and embrace experimentation. Allocate time to optimize posts using A/B testing on videos, images, and copy, and monitor analytics to adjust advertising based on performance.
  • Choose the right social channels for your business goals. While new social networks are thriving, don’t abandon the core networks, such as Facebook. Consumers expect to find you there, making your presence a litmus test in terms of brand credibility. A strategic presence drives business results. Seek out what platforms work best for your organization and your audiences.
  • Integrate your paid and organic social media strategies. By playing to the strengths of one to fill the gaps of the other, a more holistic strategy comes together.
  • Target ads to a similar audience as your organic following. Use your organic audience to help you determine who to target with paid ads to bring in new customers while organic channels build community and encourage people further along in the buying journey.

Start Here: Building on LinkedIn Basics

For B2B brands – including building materials manufacturers – LinkedIn serves as a leading outlet for driving awareness and lead generation. LinkedIn’s built-in targeting allows for identification of your audience by job function, seniority, company name, geography, and industry. For paid advertising, this translates to serving up better matched ads for engagement. In addition, LinkedIn allows for a customization of messaging and creative graphics, from text-based ads to carousel ads that allow imagery to evolve.

  • Sponsored content enables your business to reach a highly engaged audience in the LinkedIn news feed. Through single image ads, video ads, carousel ads, and event ads, your content reaches a larger, interested audience.
  • Sponsored messaging meets your audience where professional conversations happen, in LinkedIn Messaging. Through conversation ads to start quality conversations or message ads to send direct message to prospects, your business can directly reach engaged targets.
  • Lead gen forms, or pre-filled forms, collect more quality leads from your ads on LinkedIn that allow prospects to send you information in a couple of clicks.
  • Text and dynamic ads appear in the sidebar of the news feed. Text ads drive new customers to your business on a set pay-per-click budget. Spotlight ads showcase products, services, or events to increase traffic to a landing page. Follower ads promote your organization’s LinkedIn page to acquire more followers.

Foundations of Facebook Ads

Facebook maintains its position as the world’s largest social network, making it a key platform for connecting with your audience through organic and paid content. Facebook offers targeting options and multiple types of ads, so it is important to understand the difference to best achieve your goals.

  • Image ads are simple ads created by boosting an existing organic post with an image from your Facebook page.
  • Video ads run in the News Feed and Stories and showcase your product in action. These ads can be used as full videos or feature animations such as GIFs or 3D animations.
  • Poll ads are a mobile-only Facebook ad format that adds an interactive two-option poll to an image or video ad.
  • Carousel ads feature up to 10 images or videos of your product or service, allowing your business to highlight different benefits or use multiple photos together to create a panorama.
  • Collection ads are mobile-only ads that showcase five images or videos for customers to click to buy a product or service within the app, making online shopping on the go even easier.

Building on Instagram for Business

Through the Meta Business Manager – connected to your business’s Facebook account – Instagram allows for flexible, targeted promotions. Like Facebook, ads on Instagram appear throughout the app, including in users’ feeds, Stories, and Explore page. Paid content on Instagram looks similar to organic posts, but always contains a “sponsored” label and often includes additional features, such as links, call-to-action-buttons, or shopping abilities.

The wide range of ad options means your business can select the best type to meet marketing goals based on engagement and call-to-action type.

  • Images ads allow for single images to advertise brands, products, and services. These are best for campaigns with compelling visual content.
  • Stories ads are full-screen image or video ads that appear between users’ Stories. Engagement is often higher with Stories ads because the format is immersive and covers the whole mobile screen. The best performing Stories ads are the ones that look and feel like an organic Stories, using filters, text, GIFS, and stickers.
  • Video ads, similar to image ads, provide a glimpse into the brand, products, and services through in-feed videos of up to 60 minutes long. Shorter videos tend to perform better.
  • Carousel ads feature a series of images or videos that users can swipe through both in-feed and within Stories with a call-to-action button or swipe up link. These ads are beneficial for showcasing a collection of related products or telling a multi-part story.
  • Shopping ads take users directly to a product description page within the Instagram app where they can purchase through your mobile site. These ads are most beneficial for consumer and ecommerce brands.
  • Collection ads are a combination of carousel and shopping ads, showcasing products directly from your product catalog and directing users to the Instagram Instant Experience Storefront. These are best for ecommerce brands.
  • Explore ads appear in the Explore tab, where users discover new content tailored to their Instagram usage. More than 50 percent of Instagram users access Explore every month, so these ads are beneficial for gaining brand exposure.
  • IGTV ads are video ads that play after a user clicks to watch an IGTV video from their video. These videos can be up to 15 seconds and are designed for vertical viewing on mobile.
  • Reels have grown in popularity, becoming the leading content shown on Instagram. Reels ads are shown between Reels, with similar specs to Stories ads – full-screen vertical videos up to 30 seconds. These short videos should include music or sound to be well-integrated into organic Reels.

Sponsored: Paid Content on Twitter

Utilizing paid ads on Twitter can improve campaign and organic content performance. According to the Nielsen Brand Effect, using three or more ad formats increases campaign awareness by 20 percent and purchase intent by seven percent.

  • Promoted ads, including image ads, video ads, carousel ads, moment ads, and text ads.
    • Moment ads allow you to create and promote a collection of tweets to tell an immersive story.
    • Text ads are simple, native text ads that appear like organic content and extend reach to a targeted audience.
  • Follower ads are designed to increase visibility and attract new followers by promoting the account.
  • Twitter Amplify allows businesses to align ads with premium video content from relevant publishers.
    • Amplify pre-roll allows for the selection of content categories for the video to be served on.
    • Amplify sponsorships give a one-on-one pairing with a single publisher during a selected time slot and Tweet-level control for the duration of the campaign.
  • Twitter Takeovers are the most premium, mass-reach placements to drive results across Timeline and Explore tabs.
    • Timeline Takeover puts your brand at the top of any conversation as the first ad of the day.
    • Trend Takeover puts your ad alongside what’s trending and places your brand’s messages where the top conversations of the day are happening on the Explore tab.
  • Twitter Live enables advertisers to broadcast monumental moments and allow audiences from around the world to join in real-time. This promotional tool is ideal for product launches and conferences to maximize livestream content and drive conversations with audiences that matter most.

Get Moving: Sponsored Content on YouTube

With YouTube ads, you can reach your audience where they’re already searching and watching. YouTube allows your business to target viewers on any budget using Google data to match your message to the right people at the right moment. Viewers of YouTube ads say they are twice as likely to buy something they saw on YouTube, and 70 percent of viewers say that YouTube makes them more aware of new brands.

  • Video action campaigns allow your organization to reach as many people as possible with skippable ads that run before, during, or after a video plays and feature a pop-up button to take an action, like “book now” or “learn more.” These are recommended to be 15 to 30 seconds long.
  • Discovery ads use high-resolution lifestyle imagery to reach the audience as they browse the Home, Watch Next, and Discovery Feeds on YouTube as well as the Promotions and Social tabs in Gmail.
  • Skippable in-stream ads reach a large audience with skippable ads that run before, during, or after a video plays. The length is open-ended but recommended to be 15 to 30 seconds for optimal performance.
  • Bumper ads highlight memorable messages with quick, non-skippable ads before a video plays. These ads are six seconds or less.
  • Non-skippable in-stream ads ensure potential customers see the full story with a non-skippable ad that plays before, during, or after their video. These ads are limited to 15 to 20 seconds.
  • With a Masthead ad, your business can reach more potential customers in a short amount of time by featuring the ad at the top of the YouTube home feed. These are non-skippable, 15- to 20-second ads.

Prepare for Success

The game has changed. No longer is paid social media advertising an optional component. Rather, it should be integrated into your social media strategy, augmenting your organic efforts to drive your engagement levels higher.

At BLD Marketing, we develop and manage comprehensive social media programs on behalf of building product brands that drive brand awareness and meaningful interactions, and our programs integrate both organic and paid strategies. Let us help you get started.

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