Reality checks come in all kinds of shapes and sizes whether it is your pants feeling too tight after lapsing on your healthy eating or whizzing by a police officer when you clearly are not going the speed limit. Mine came in the form of realizing that my sweet grandparents are now actively on social media, they cannot figure out how to take a video on their iPhone but they are liking, sharing, and friending nonetheless.
Reality check: social media is a part of our everyday lives, your thumbs are more prone to early onset arthritis than they have ever been, and fooling the consumer with blatant ads on their feeds just does not work anymore. When people know they’re being advertised to and it is invading their personal feed, it can result in positive, negative or neutral attitude toward the brand. With that big of a tossup at hand, optimizing your ads to solicit a positive brand attitude is key. As with everything in this world all it takes is a little tact, convincing, and playing the game.
If we think of paid social advertising as a romance strategy it can be broken down into 5 stages:
1. The smile flash and hair flip – you have seen this in at least a dozen movies in your lifetime. It is that moment your main character looks at their love interest and everything goes into slow motion as they whip their head back to smile and laugh with their friends to some kind of cliché music. The target is identified and you now know where the main character’s romantic efforts will be concentrated for the next 2 hours of your life. The first step to successful paid social advertising is identifying your love interest. You believe in and love your company’s services, product, etc. and everyone else should love it too, right? In reality no, there is going to be a somewhat narrow group of people who will use your product and/or service. Find your love interest.
2. Casually bump into your love interest (a lot) – this is not such a casual thing, you have identified, researched, and basically stalked your target. You know how old they are, if they are married, where they go most often, and you can sometimes even predict their behavior. When Johnny “happens to bump” into Sally in the hallway after Biology between 3rd and 4th period everyday it is because he has seen her around, asked his friends, and done his romantic homework. Essentially Sally may not be interested in Johnny yet, but at least she knows that he exists. In terms of paid social advertising, target your audience with something that you know they will run into. This first interaction may not result in a click-through but if you keep it low-key and casual, they may just recognize that you exist. Think along the lines of an article written by a social influencer in a publication that your audience is likely to read. It promotes your service or product in a low-key way by someone that your audience already trusts.
3. Make your move – you have identified your love interest, that person now knows you exist, and yes, now it’s time to make your move. This time, they know who you are and they are ready to receive your ad. However, tact must still be kept in mind, keep it cool. This is where “info-taining” content comes into play, you want to inform and entertain your audience. Advertising does not have to be obnoxiously in your face, and it is much better received woven into your personal feed when it is something that is worth reading. Just like you do not want to ramble when approaching your crush, you have limited character counts in most paid social media ads. Twitter comes in at 116 characters if you want to add a click-through link, Facebook recommends 90 characters, and Instagram comes in at 125 characters. Your image speaks when you are too tongue tied to get more than a few words out. Adding visually interesting images to your paid social media posts speaks when you have limited character counts. When making your move, be tactful, informative, entertaining and look the part.
4. You’ve landed the date – your love interest has noticed you and agreed to give you a chance, AKA they’ve clicked through to the landing page. Just like when you have agonized over the what to wear, how your hair looks, and if your physically prepared to feel confident on your date, your landing page has to rock. The more visually interesting, user friendly, and professional that the landing page is, the more confident you can be that you have kept the attention of your audience for more than a few seconds.
5. You’re on the date – you’ve made it this far, now it’s time to shine. It’s time to show off your personality, and make your love interest satisfied that they took time to spend with you. The content, offer, or product has to be worth the audience’s time. All brawn and no brains applies to advertising as well as dating. If it looks good but has no substance to back it up, once you get to this stage, you’re exposed. This is where you make your audience believe that they can have their cake and eat it too. Your product or service can look good AND be worth their time.
Taking these steps in paid social media advertising eases the consumer into who you are and they have time to trust you. Typically, randomly approaching a love interest in a slightly aggressive way with a cheesy pick-up line and asking for their phone number results in not landing the date. But, when you appear organic in nature while approaching your consumer, your success in converting people from paid social ads to visiting the landing page or adding to cart goes up.
Let’s sum it up:
- Smile flash and hair flip – identify your audience
- Casually bump into your love interest – find a low-key way for your consumer to know you exist
- Make your move – serve them visually interesting, informative, and entertaining content in the form of a more direct advertising piece
- You’ve landed the date – have a professional, visually interesting, and user friendly landing page
- You’re on the date – back up the visuals with substance in your product, offer, and/or service
Not only will this help with your next paid social campaign, but maybe, just maybe you now have a play book on how to approach your next love interest.