7 tips for social media advertising success

The NSPCC ran over 50 paid social media campaigns last year, covering a wide range of audiences and objectives — from driving awareness of our Pantasaurus song, recruiting our fabulous Childline and School Service volunteers, engaging professionals to sign up to a course or even driving people to sign up to an event like the Gherkin Challenge. It is one of our most cost effective channels and helps us reach our audience across many different campaigns.

It’s a really important channel for us for raising awareness and driving conversions on our website. We have lots of learnings from the campaigns we have run and we wanted to share the top 8 tips for running a successful campaign.

1. Clearly define the audience you are trying to reach

The key to any good marketing campaign is defining your audience. With over 2.19 billion users globally, whilst Facebook remains a key platform in terms of reach it also offers incredible levels of detail with which you are able to segment audiences for your campaigns. We make sure we have clear targeting approach on all our campaigns, as well as testing new audiences against the core audience.

‘Letter from Santa’, our Christmas product which allows adults to create a personalised letter from Santa to be sent to their child, is a great example of where we apply a testing methodology. Using Facebook’s targeting options, we have found that personalising our message by developing different ads to target parents with different aged children works really well. Every year since introducing this, we consistently found that it performs better than our standard messaging.

See an example of one of the ads here:

2. Develop a testing plan to optimise campaigns

Make sure you test different creative, audiences and formats of adverts — concentrate on changing the headline, image and then the longer copy. Try to change just one thing in the creative so you can take that learning forward.

Create a document so that results can be shared easily. We can see large difference in the results of different creative — in some cases three times the cost per conversion.

An example of this is when we undertook our most recent Picnic Party campaign; the creative using the In the Night Garden characters outperformed all other creative we had live for this campaign. We have also tested different advert formats to see what works best.

You can see examples of the ads below. We found that the first advert performed much better than the second:

3. Understand the metrics and what they mean

CPC (Cost per click), CPV (cost per view), CPA (cost per acquisition), ROI (Return on Investment) etc. etc. The acronyms used within social media advertising can be mind boggling. But its so important for you to understand what they all mean to see the performance of the campaign. You can set targets for your campaign based on these metrics and ensure that Facebook meets your campaign objectives.

Depending on communication objective in the marketing funnel, we use different metrics to measure a campaign. An easy guide is below, but note that some campaigns do need more bespoke metrics.

The different campaign metrics can work together. For example, with our PANTS campaign we used the main video to drive awareness. We then retargeted people who interacted with the video with an ask for them to donate to receive an activity pack to help have a conversation with their child on abuse. By separating these two objectives, we knew what metrics we needed to measure and therefore how to judge the success of each aspect of the campaign.

4. Think about which channel is best

Carefully select your Social Media platforms to ensure you can meet your objectives and target audience.

Here’s a few immediate key questions to consider:

  1. Is this channel performing well organically for me?

2. Does this channel’s demographics match my brand?

3. Do our competitors target users on this network?

4. Does my target audience consistently engage here?

5. Does my ad format (multi-photo, video, GIF, etc.) fit the platform?

We find Facebook and Instagram works for all campaigns, whilst Twitter is great for awareness and engagement, YouTube and Snapchat is great for engaging young people whilst we use LinkedIn for a professional audience.

5. Contacting corporate partners

In our bid for Lidl’s charity of the year, we needed Lidl staff to vote for us. We used Facebook to target Lidl customers and fans to help us to reach people that work at Lidl.

As the Lidl staff are based in hundreds of stores across the UK, we identified that Facebook advertising would be an effective way to find people that worked at Lidl, at scale and with minimal production cost.

We won the partnership, and this was directly attributable to our digital comms. Our new partnership will deliver £3 million over three years, demonstrating a strong ROI for our activities on Facebook.

6. Targeting professionals on Facebook

We recently ran a campaign called ‘Number Day’ which is aimed at engaging schools to run fundraising events in their classrooms. Historically, NSPCC has used offline media to target school teachers. This was not cost effective, and we identified that sign ups were not attributable to these channels.

By using Facebook to target teachers, we increased income from the event by 25%, driving thousands more income for the NSPCC than we had seen on any previous ‘Number Day’ campaign.

7. Tracking results

Make sure your tracking the campaigns sufficiently. Facebook has a great tracking tool which helps to optimise the campaigns and ensure your budget drives the most competitive sign ups. You need to ensure you have the code added to the site. We also use Google tracked links and Google Analytics to measure the success of the campaign, allowing us to understand the performance of campaigns from engagement and through to conversion.

I hope you found our list useful, and if you have any other tips please do let us know!

This article was written by James Barker, Associate Head — Digital Engagement. @jamesbarker82 I look after the digital engagement team at the NSPCC and have worked in digital for over 10 years.