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Marketing/tech: Social media advertising

December 30, 2014 -  By

Kanary-blogSocial media for business is an enigma.

One of the questions I most often get asked is: “I’m a small business with a limited number of followers/fans. It doesn’t do me any good to get involved with social media because no one is listening.” While I agree with part of that statement, it doesn’t mean you can’t change your approach and make it a valuable part of your marketing strategy.

I’ll be honest. It is difficult as a small business to get started with social media. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise—because it’s a bold-face lie. To make matters worse, the green industry is not a “sexy” one, giving us a difficult challenge to engage consumers in social media. The fact is we do not have the brand recognition that Justin Bieber or Beyonce has. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t make it work. Several social media channels have made it extremely easy not only to get started with a presence, but also reach out to consumers who may find what we do cool, or dare I say “Bieberish.” It’s in the form of advertising.

You can’t be heard on social media unless you are proactive, reaching out and engaging with consumers. Social media advertising kick-starts those efforts, allowing you to reach out to consumers in a segmented fashion. Using social media advertising allows you to identify individuals who match your consumer profile, engaging them and encouraging them to become followers/fans of your brand. Here are three great channels to get started with.

1. Twitter

When thinking of small businesses on social media, I think of the old saying, “if a tree falls in the woods and you’re not there to hear it, does it make a sound?” Well, it most certainly would if the tree had a Twitter account with a bunch of engaged followers.

Twitter is my favorite social media platform out there. A micro-blogging platform in nature, Twitter allows you to share thoughts, articles, videos and other information with followers 140 characters at a time. Here you’ll find me interacting with Twitter followers throughout the day (@ShaunKanary) sharing marketing advice, thoughts and general sorrow from being a Cleveland sports fan.

What makes Twitter my favorite channel as a marketer, though, is it is the most segmented social media channel out there. Consumers can self-identify by interests—in terms of who they follow and their geographic location—to participate on the platform. This makes it easy for me to target consumer segments that match my ideal customers, delivering them relevant content and offers that match their interests.

Twitter advertising is very inexpensive and has a variety of advertising options that accomplish different objectives. Some of these include:

  • Promoted Account Ads: With this ad format, consumers are encouraged to become followers of your account, allowing them to connect with you in a simple click and exposing them to current and future messages.
  • Conversions/Website Clicks: This ad format concentrates on funneling Twitter followers to a landing page on your website. This feature allows you to promote landing pages on your website to drive traffic to encourage signups and estimate requests.
  • Lead Generation: Don’t have the ability to have landing pages on your site? No worries, because Twitter’s Lead Generation cards allows consumers to share their information, such as name and email address, directly with you with a click of the button. This powerful format allows you to create lead-generating tweets with little effort.

2. Facebook

The granddaddy of all social media channels, Facebook has been around forever—some say since dinosaurs roamed the earth (approximately 2007). While algorithm changes have hurt organic reach on this channel, sponsored posts and advertising are the best ways to get your messages in front of a large number of possible consumers on this platform.

Similar to Twitter, there are many great advertising tools your company can take advantage of, including:

  • Clicks to Website: These types of ads allow you to create a Facebook post with a picture, description and attractive call-to-action button that drives consumers to pages on your website.
  • Website Conversions: Similar to Clicks to Website ads, website conversion ads measure not only clicks to your website, but also actions of consumers once they arrive. You can very easily measure the return on your investment, tracking the number of consumers that convert on your various landing pages.
  • Offer Claims: A newer ad format to Facebook, this feature allows you to “market” special offers and deals to consumers across the social media platform.

While you may be limited in the number of people who see your organic posts based on Facebook’s ever-changing system, its ad platform is still a solid, inexpensive option to help achieve business objectives.

3. LinkedIn

A social media platform dedicated to professionals, LinkedIn allows you to target consumers based on their professional industry, position, geography and job seniority. While this may not serve a green industry company that is focused on B2C sales, you couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to target B2B opportunities for your firm. Green industry companies can take advantage of this channel by targeting architects, property managers, real estate firms and other specific professional service and/or strategic partner opportunities.

With LinkedIn, there are two different types of advertisement options:

  • Sponsored Updates: This ad format allows you to build relationships with potential consumers by sharing content across timelines of LinkedIn members who fit specific segments.
  • Video/Image/Text Ads: Similar to Facebook ads, LinkedIn Video/Image/Text ads allow you to place a small rectangle ad on a LinkedIn users homepage.

An up-and-coming option: Pinterest

The ad format I’m most excited about is currently being beta-tested by Pinterest. But when it is launched, green industry professionals will benefit greatly from it.

Pinterest is a social media platform that allows consumers to create online bulletin boards, or picture books, allowing them to “pin” photos, recipes and other visual information to one place as a “visual” catalog. In the Pinterest world, one of the most highly pinned items is “Outdoor Home Improvement” pictures. This benefits green industry companies because it allows them to post “promoted pins” of their artistry to consumers who have these boards—the promoted pins are what is yet to be released.

Photo: iStock.com/mattjeacock

About the Author:

Kanary is Director of Demand Generation for Kuno Creative, a digital marketing agency. A member of the green industry for the past 20 years, he has consulted with green industry companies throughout the U.S. and gives marketing lectures at several industry conferences every year. Kanary is also an adjunct professor of marketing at Baldwin Wallace University and a Certified Google Adwords and Analytics Individual.

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