As some of you are aware, PushON regularly hosts free Online Marketing and Magento Meetups in Manchester, with industry-leading speakers, pizza, and beverages. While these are on hold until lockdown has fully ended and the UK is back to some sort of normality, we’ve started to run a series of webinars covering various topics. Again, these are free to join – so keep an eye an out.

Our most recent webinar was led by our paid media consultant Mel, who spoke about bringing discipline back to social. In other words, it’s the best way to apply business discipline to social media, which is through paid social, due to its ability to target users compared to organic social.

So, here’s a rundown of Mel’s talk in case you missed it.

What Are Your Goals?

Determining your business goals is fundamental regardless of what avenue you choose to go down. With paid social, the following objectives should be at the forefront.

  1. Understanding how social media can work for your business
  2. How to maximise paid social performance to ensure you’re targeting the right people
  3. Cross-Channel Marketing – how can paid social influence other marketing channels to support business objectives
  4. Measuring success and reporting – is it working? Where are your biggest wins and losses?

What is Paid Social?

You’ve bound to have come across sponsored ads on Facebook and Instagram, and other social networking sites. Well, in a nutshell, this is paid social.

Paid Social is the popular term for highly targeted advertising across social media – the sponsored ads.

Like PCC (pay per click) advertising on Google and Bing, paid social offers an incredibly detailed level of targeting and attribution. Utilising a well-structured strategy and content, paid social campaigns can deliver excellent ROI for businesses. Similar to PPC, you can be more efficient with your advertising spend by targeting to those who you know, from past data, are your core audience. For example, if you know there is certain demographic information such as age which your service or product appeals to more, you can target more towards that age group. Or, if you’re running a promotion in a precise location, you can just focus on that area.

Paid social targeting goes more profound than the standard demographics, particularly Facebook. You can target people who have recently got engaged, has a birthday coming up, interests, and behaviour. Plus, it’s a fantastic channel to get creative with your ads and make them stand out.

Common Issues and Mistakes

What are the common issues and mistakes advertisers often make when using paid social?

  • The set-up for reporting, such as setting up URL parameters.

One common mistake is not including a URL parameter. If you are unfamiliar with URL parameters, they can help you understand the effectiveness of your ads. For example, you can use URL parameters to identify where your ad traffic is coming from and which ad leads to a conversion. You can also see how paid social activity performs across other channels.

  • Using incorrect image sizes for specific placements.
  • Failing to test multiple audiences and ads.
  • Exceeding recommended character lengths.

Using incorrect image sizes for specific placements such as Facebook Stories, not testing multiple audiences and ads and exceeding recommended character lengths can lead to disapproved ads and low engagement. So, ultimately, it can harness your overall ad performance, which negatively impacts achieving your business goals.

The Three Most Popular Paid Social Platforms

Undoubtedly, Facebook and Instagram are the most popular social media platforms to advertise on, but LinkedIn has closed the gap and upped their game. While Twitter is still common for sponsored ads, they’re not as effective – in our opinion anyway.

Facebook and Paid Social

Facebook probably has the most advanced paid social platform in terms of targeting and creative options. Billions of people use Facebook, so you’re likely to find your audience here. It offers an unrivalled targeting opportunity, combined with the most advanced paid social platform in terms of targeting and creative options.

Facebook allows you to target your audiences interests, demographics, lookalikes (reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to your existing customers). You can target via location and go deeper, by postcode.

You can create various remarketing lists based on how your target audience has interacted with your website, app, offline or have engaged with your Facebook page or posts.

There are different bidding options too. But we always recommend starting with manual bidding, so you have more control over your spend for the first month of running a new campaign. After this, switch to automation, as the machine learning will have enough data to work off, and it will find the opportunities for the best results across your campaigns.

Facebook offers a multitude of targeting opportunities. Due to the enormous audiences that can be targeted, split testing is a crucial facet of maximising performance.

Instagram and Paid Social

Owned by Facebook, Instagram has quickly become a popular social networking site and become the hotspot for live posting through creative imagery.

Due to its highly visual nature, Instagram can often deliver a high level of engagement with efficient utilisation of ad formats. As Instagram can be managed through Facebook Ads Manager, advertising opportunities are identical, including targeting and budgets, making it easier for advertisers to manage campaigns. However, you must consider the ad messaging, who you are reaching out to and image sizes, as they are different from Facebook. Remember, Instagram’s audience is traditionally younger, although it can often be a more effective advertising channel for specific brands.

LinkedIn and Paid Social

LinkedIn is a social networking site for businesses and employees looking for new opportunities. While recruiters have dominated this platform, there are still endless opportunities to be had, including winning new businesses.

LinkedIn has numerous advantages that position it as a key channel for B2B (business-to-business) companies. It is the only social channel that allows for accurate targeting through job titles and career/industry background. LinkedIn ad formats enable marketers to create native advertising easily, leading to subtle, engaging content and at different levels of the conversion funnel.

For example, text and video ads are a great way to engage with people at the top of the conversion funnel. Whereas, sponsored in-mail is an effective way to target those at the bottom of the conversion funnel, as these people usually have a better understanding of who you are and more familiar with your brand.

Similar to Facebook, you’re also able to retarget people depending on how they’ve interacted with your website or LinkedIn account. And you also have different bidding options.

Account Structure and Strategy

You can use different objectives to target people at different levels of the conversion funnel. For example, to generate awareness, you should use the traffic objective, and Facebook’s algorithms will use this objective to target those who are most likely to click through to your website.

If you want to increase engagement, the traffic objective is still a viable option. Again, you must ensure that you’re directing people to specific content-rich pages to obtain the information they’re looking for.

Videos are also a great way to build on engagement. In terms of generating sales, use the conversion objective and Facebook’s algorithm will target people who showed purchase behaviour off-site and on social.

How you structure a paid social account is fundamental to how successful your overall paid social activity will be. With paid social, targeting is at the ad-set level while actual advertising content will be within each ad set. For those who aren’t aware, an ad-set is the different audiences you have created – who you’re targeting based on demographics, location, and interests, for example.

Over time you will see which audience performing the best, as well as which ad is the most popular.

Ad Formats

There are various ad formats to choose from and can often be overwhelming. So, here is a breakdown of the different ad types.

Single Image Ads

Single image ads are the most popular ad type. They can drive strong engagement when combined with appropriate targeting, i.e. placement and ad-copy. Single image ads can also be used as a form of native advertising when used subtly.

Carousel Ads

Carousel ads are great for a storytelling feature to promote individual products or the brand itself.

You can use multiple images, headlines, and links or a call to action in a single ad unit. Due to the various images and copy, these type of ads have proven highly successful for businesses.

Collection/ Canvas Ads

Collection or canvas ads are highly effective when engaging with audiences using Facebook and Instagram on their mobiles. Collection ads appear with a cover photo, turning into a full-screen (canvas) experience to highlight the key products. This type of ad makes it easier for people to browse different products on their mobile in a more visual way.

Specific products subsequently open to a full-page when clicked on.

Lead Generation

Lead generation ads allow us to build a comprehensive list of users who can then be retargeted through PPC or even e-mail remarketing. It allows us to ensure that users who drop off via paid social campaigns can continue their customer journey across other channels (this is where cross-channel marketing steps in). It is also a great way to re-engage lost customers.


Videos are an effective way to engage with your target audience. Although typically more expensive than image-based ads, video ads do traditionally have a higher level of engagement than imagery. People will usually spend more time watching these ads, so it is a fantastic opportunity to include key messaging. Like image-based ads, eye-catching creative that adheres to best practice specs is key for high performance.

Social channels are continuously pushing videos as an effective channel for advertising.

Ad Copy

Ad-copy is key for any paid social campaign to be successful. It is also something that needs adjusting depending on which stage of the conversion funnel you are targeting

At the awareness and engagement stage, it’s recommended to focus on including a snapshot of what your brand delivers, while encouraging the user to click on call to action button to find out more, as this directs them to the relevant page on your website.

As we move down the funnel, you need to educate the user further and be more specific in terms of how your target audience can benefit from the product or service provided. You can include your USP and the benefits of your product or service. Once the user is well acquainted with your brand and your offering, they will soon become a loyal customer.

Audience and Ad Optimisation

Once you’ve defined who you want to target, and you must ensure your ads and audience are optimised. Like with SEO, for a page to rank well on search engines like Google, we must ensure the page is fully optimised to target the most relevant keywords. The same applies to PPC.

Optimisation is critical for maximising results across any paid social account.

Audience Optimisation

When managing multiple audiences, you must manage performance, and this is something that needs to be done regularly to avoid missing opportunities and capitalising on results.

You need to identify what key metrics you want to base your performance on and adhere to these consistently. From here, segment audiences by key breakdowns, such as time of day, placements, platforms, and geographic data. This data can then be used to refine audiences even further, maximising ROI.

Once your audience has been optimised, you will be able to gather more information on who your core audience is via the different social channels and where to spend your money.

Ad Optimisation

The same method applies to ad optimisation. By identifying which ad is the best performing for specific audiences, will ensure you maximise performance. While you can use the same approach in terms of key metrics and breakdown, the optimisation of ads tends to be a longer process.

Facebook has recently allowed you to begin uploaded multiple variations of copy for each ad, which over time, Facebook will identify as best performing.

Reporting and Measuring

How do you report back and measure the success of your ad campaigns? This goes back to your main objectives and what you want to achieve. It’s also important to understand the difference between expectations and reality.

Promoting a product via social media doesn’t guarantee that you will receive thousands of likes, comments and website clicks instantaneously. Various attributes influence this; the budget is one of them.

Cross-Channel Impact – Google Analytics

A key issue with running paid social campaigns is accurately reporting on activity across different channels. We recommend reporting on paid social through each platform’s reporting tools, such as Facebook Business Manager, as well as Google Analytics.

By implementing URL parameters on ads, you can see how paid social activity performs across other channels on a last-click basis.

Data Studio

In terms of reporting on performance, we suggest utilising Data Studio to continue with effective cross-channel reporting. External plug-ins are required to pull through data from Facebook/LinkedIn Ads. Once set up, Data Studio offers a clear set of dashboards that can be modified easily.

So, there you have it – how to incorporate discipline into paid social.

Keep an eye out for PushON’ upcoming webinars.