Social Network Advertising | Part 2, How To Proceed

When contemplating advertising on social networks (or indeed any other type of online advertising), you want to make sure to follow three simple rules. Target your advertising. Track your investment. Measure the success or failure. Keeping these three rules in mind, the following are areas to focus on when considering your own social network advertising and figuring your needs.

Searching for Networks

When searching for social networking sites to advertise on, there are a few things you need to take into consideration – primarily the traffic, the members, the niche, and the cost (more about this below). When contacted, sometimes social networks will give you general numbers on traffic and member base. Remember that on some networks, the member base is prominently displayed (such as on MySpace).

I previously put together a large list of social media sites; however, there are many more than these out there. Wikipedia has a list and Tropical SEO also has a list of niche social sites. Use these lists, but if you are truly serious about social network advertising, I would advise hitting the net with some additional searches. These are a great place to start, however.

What’s a Good CPM

CPM is going to be the usual base model for social network advertising. The range is actually pretty broad – from $3 CPM on MySpace to around $15-$25 on sites like Newsvine. Ten out of ten times there is room for negotiation, whether it is conducting an extended campaign for a price break or just lowering your CPM from $25 to $20. These companies want to make money and they want to help you in your online marketing needs. Finding the right CPM that fits your budget is going to be the tricky part.

Deciding Placement

Typically speaking, one of the best type of ads sold are a combination of two or more ads. Generally, you will see a leader board and a skyscraper or a leader board and a box unit with the same ad on it. Many times you will get a salesperson offering you a price break if you go for both. Depending on your ad budget, I would recomend doing a tandem ad placement. It really helps brand a page with your message.

Remember that you have a short period of time to catch someone’s attention, so having other messages on your targeted pages can cause confusion and divert a visitor’s eye and attention to something else.

In general, leader boards tend to be overlooked and underperform, so if you cannot do tandem, think about doing box units and skyscrapers.

Targeting Your Efforts

Go after niche social networking/media sites that have the type of audience you are targeting. If you are trying to sell newspapers, DON’T blow all your money on MySpace. Instead, give Newsvine a chance, etc.

Most social networks allow you to specify who to serve your ads to based on the configuration of their ad server. If your target demo is single women aged 18-35, then make sure you tell them this information, so they will be able to ONLY serve ads to that demographic. Always ask what the limitations on targeting are for their member base. Most of the social networks will have different things they can and cannot do.

Creating Incentivised Offers and Interesting Creatives

A mistake that I see more than 60% of the time is people doing banner advertising without incentivising their offer. This drastically can affect the click through and conversion rate on your advertising. Giving your viewers an incentive to click on the ad provides a potential client or conversion a reason to take action right away. For example, “this offer is only valid by clicking on the ad and not redeemable anywhere else.”

With banner advertising in particular, it is very likely that you will see low results, so whenever you have a chance to invoke a response … DO IT!

Leverage Multiple Metrics

The most important step in the entire process is leveraging multiple metrics. I have dealt with many social media sites doing banner advertising. These companies used impressive reporting (like DoubleClick, etc.); however, exactly what I needed to see was not in my reports and was not provided to me upon request. Be sure to set up your own internal tracking via a “tracking url” and leverage your internal web analytics cross-referenced with your tracking url cross-referenced with the social networking site’s reporting system.

If your goal for this campaign is conversions, be sure to set up your tracking url to follow a user to your goal page (thank you page). This will help greatly in determining whether or not your money was well spent or if you need to find a new online marketing plan.

Keep these tips in mind if you decide to experiment in social network advertising and don’t forget to keep up-to-date on the latest developments in this rapidly changing arena to stay ahead of the curve.