More than two-thirds of business owners are planning to increase their social media advertising during the upcoming holiday season, according to an annual survey of retailers and marketing professionals by Offerpop, a digital marketing company. The survey also reports that Facebook is going to capture 92 percent of this increased spending. As a small business owner, should you join the crowds and increase your social media advertising?
Social media advertising boosts visibility & drives sales
The holiday sales period is absolutely critical for many small businesses. Yahoo Business reports that the final two months of the year can account for up to 40 percent of some small businesses’ annual revenues.
Social media advertising definitely has a role to play in driving those sales, says Carmella Lanni, an e-commerce specialist with Moleskine America, a company that sells luxury notebooks. “Advertising helps to create exposure, build awareness and could possibly become a viable sales driver,” she says. “However, it needs to be connected to a strategy built on your goals for social media and how you want to be viewed by your customers. You want sales, but you also want to create an experience for consumers in your specific industry.”
A year-round practice
While social media advertising can get your company more attention and sales, it’s not a magic elixir that will fix all of your marketing problems. “If this is the only time of year that you are going to do a targeted social media push, then I do not think it is worth the investment,” says Todd Mansfield, CEO and co-founder of Pagatim, which creates custom audio content. “You will be lost in the crowd.” He recommends that business owners take a longer view, committing to regularly appearing content that has lasting value instead of trying to do it all during the holiday season.
The holiday classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life contains valuable social media marketing lessons, according to Mansfield. Why? “Because it’s an amazing story that so many people can relate to,” he says. “Try to do that with your social media. Don’t push your product. Push great stories that are happening in the world and you will gain a kinship with people.”
In a very competitive marketplace, many business owners feel forced to slash prices. Mansfield cautions against making lower prices the exclusive focus of your social media advertising. “If you are just trying to meet your annual sales goal by pushing hard deals at the end of the year, how are you going to stay connected with those people for the next twelve months? They may come find you again next December, but they won’t be looking for you between January 15th and December 1st.”
Research platforms before you launch your social media advertising
While the vast majority of social media advertising may take place on Facebook, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where you need to be marketing your business. “Understand the social media channels where your target consumer groups are most active and engaged,” Lanni says. If your customers spend more time on Pinterest, the Knot, or other social media platforms, then that’s where your social media advertising will be most effective. As an added bonus, the ad volume on social media platforms other than Facebook is lower, meaning there’s less competition for your customer’s attention.
Test early, test often
To make sure you’re getting the most out of your social media advertising budget, you’re going to want to assess how well your ads are working for you. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest all provide reports that show how many people have seen and engaged with your advertising. Lanni recommends accessing this information as soon as it becomes available. “Test ad performance on relevant channels as early as possible to understand costs, data trends, and most importantly, customer interaction,” she says. If you don’t like what you see, adjust either your ad’s content or the targeting strategy you’re using to get better results.
Review performance after the holidays
The best way to determine if the investment in social media advertising was a wise one is to assess performance after the fact. Schedule time in January to analyze your sales numbers, your social media advertising spending, and the relationship between these figures. This information will help you determine your social media advertising strategies going forward.
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