Social media has changed the world.
There are approximately 7.7 billion people in the world, with 3.5 billion of us online. With Facebook having 2.4 billion registered users, social media platforms could be used by one-in-three people around the globe, and more than two-thirds of all internet users. The rapid and vast adoption of these technologies is changing how we create new relationships, how we access information from the news, and how we do business.
Whether you manage a 25-year-old IT security company or are part of a new exciting start-up looking to be acquired by Microsoft, every cybersecurity company has to have an online presence. And that means being active on social media.
Cybersecurity writer, Anastasios Arampatzis, backs this up, “Social Media Marketing is one of the most effective ways to grow your own business. First of all, it helps you spread out the word for your company and your products. Most important, it gives you the opportunity to grow relationships with your target audience. Your social media followers and connections are people who know your organization, have likely done business with you in the past and will be most likely to tell their friends about you.”
However, over the last few years, the social media landscape has changed. Initially, social media was a great tool for all organizations to share their content, driving likes, followers and most importantly clicks to their website. But recently we’ve seen some algorithm changes that have impacted the way businesses leverage social media.
The evolving social media landscape
Back in early 2018, Facebook highlighted that community feedback made them update their algorithm, “…posts from businesses, brands and media is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups. As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media…”
And that’s just Facebook. The feedback has been similar to other popular social media sites such as Twitter and even LinkedIn. People do want to engage with brands, but they want a majority of their engagements to be with people. It’s paramount that marketing departments are aware of these changes so they can juggle resources and refocus their strategies. Posting on Facebook 4 times per day might have worked in 2017, but not now.
Don’t get me wrong, organic social media is still extremely important. Usually, if something goes viral on Reddit or receives hundreds of retweets, it’s because it’s unique, engaging and deserves it. And in terms of actual user experience for consumers, it’s improved. People are seeing more personalized content based on who they engage with and on their behavior.
Nevertheless, for all brands, It’s harder to get your content in front of your fans and drive engagement.
Sending a handful of tweets and a few LinkedIn posts isn’t going to cut it for most successful IT security firms now. Executives demand to see a return on their investment, and not only in terms of brand awareness, but how social media is driving real sales leads and business. That means you need new prospects to engage with your content and ultimately take that free trial or download your latest whitepaper, and you need to have the capabilities to measure success, justifying your budgets.
How do organizations take their social media strategies to the next level?
One strategy that is being employed by some of the most successful cybersecurity companies is social media advertising. Most of us hate to admit it, but social media sites have a lot of our vital information. So many users share everything. Think about LinkedIn for example. We state our location, job title, job history, general interests and then sync that with the organization that we work for. That’s a marketeer’s dream. It’s now possible to target almost ANYONE on that platform.
But, it’s important to remember that social media advertising isn’t as simple as plug-and-play, especially if you want to maximize your return.
With that in mind, where do you start? Here is a quick checklist of questions to ask yourself:
- Do we have suitable content to drive new leads?
- How much should we spend?
- Which social media platform do our prospects spend most of their time on?
- Do we have the structure in place to measure an ROI that will help us get more budget?
- Do we have the information we need to determine the right characteristics for potential customers on our social media platforms?
It’s not easy to answer those questions. And that’s only a few things to consider. To start, you need to put a thorough plan in place and anticipate all the hurdles that might come your way. Anyone can spend social media budget, but getting a return, driving leads and new business, is what will stand you apart in your next presentation to your executives.
Based on recent experiences, I’ve found one of the strongest tactics you can put in place is actually creating a business case that is simple for decision makers to understand and see a tangible return.
The Social Media Advertising Apple Pie
First of all, we need to focus on the crust. You can’t add your apple filling without having the bottom crust in place!
Initially, we need to look at the business’s core strengths when determining what assets to pick. Work with the rest of marketing and ask them what is performing the best on the website, in email nurturing, pay-per-click and other areas of the business. Chances are you’ll find similar success when advertising on social media.
For this section, we need to make sure we can look at all the ingredients that are important to determine success early on. When setting up and optimizing your campaigns, you need to focus on key metrics such as impressions, cost-per-click (CPC), click-through-rate (CTR) and clicks.
You can find all this data within the social media platform and most channels have very similar metrics on slightly different designs. When setting up any social media advertising campaign, it’s important to test different variables such as your banners, text, audience size and then have the ability to actually analyze what is making a positive impact. To make analytics easier to digest, start off with just changing one variable at the time as it’s harder to slice the data when there are too many variables in play.
The second tier is the apple! It might be great to have one advert performing well within the social media platform analytics. For example, low cost per click, high click through rate is what we want, right? Well, what happens when they click through? It’s extremely important to measure your conversion rates on your website. Let´s pick two scenarios to put this into perspective:
If we’re looking at the view directly from the social media platform analytics, advert 1 is superior. More clicks, better CTR, lower CPC and more downloads!!
However, when looking at performance from the webpage, that changes. If we look at the actual cost per conversion.
100 x $4 = $400
$400/10 = $40 per conversion
30 x $8 = $240
$240/9 = $26.7 per conversion
You don’t need to understand pi to see the difference here.
If we wanted to scale our spend, we’d be better doing so on advert 2, even though all the other metrics are pointing to advert 1. We’re talking quite smaller numbers above too. If you wanted your investment to reach 100 leads in a campaign, advert 2 would be $1,330 cheaper!
The Ice Cream
Is any warm apple pie complete without some cream or ice cream? (No)
Part 1 and 2 will be influenced heavily by what results we find here. As we want to make sure all the work we’ve done already is actually useful. It’s important to review the quality of those leads you’ve collected. Work with the rest of marketing and sales to determine your adverts are hitting the right people. Make sure you ask the team what actually qualifies as a good lead. Think about the following:
- Company and Size
- Job Title
Hopefully, most of these names will be new marketing qualified leads (MQLs). However, their marketing lead score might be fairly low until they start engaging with more content. Looking at a few parameters mentioned above should give you a good indication of performance. Remember, you’ll always get some rotten leads, but if you find a few real golden nuggets, you will start influencing that sales pipeline really soon.
There will always be lots of different factors that come into play here, but this theory is about making sure all three levels work together, getting you the best return on your spend, and baking social media advertising in as a core tool for marketing and lead generation companies.
How do you like them apples?
If you want to discuss the social media advertising opportunity for your business further please get in touch with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org