Are you ready for a paid social media campaign?

This 7-step plan will help you prepare your ad strategy

Last month, I found myself Googling: “instagram jewelry companies.”

A few months before that, I had seen an ad on Instagram showcasing some really beautiful rings – perfectly my taste, ethically made, unique and reasonably priced.

At the moment I saw the ad, I wasn’t in the market for any new jewelry.

Then, a few months later, I found myself wanting to actively celebrate the end of a huge, all-consuming client project, and something sparkly seemed like a good fit. A material reminder that I’m a badass and achieved something big.

But for the life of me, I could not remember the name of the company selling these rings.

Thus, my vague Google search.

I knew this was a smaller company, and I knew they had grown their business largely through advertising to a targeted audience on Instagram. I’d seen them around. And sure enough, after reading 2 or 3 listicles on jewelry on Insta, I found them.

Don't forget this marketing tip!

Pin it, Keep it, Use it, Share it.

It’s clearer than ever that social media is a powerful part of our marketing mix that can provide us – entrepreneurs and small business owners and girl bosses – with an excellent opportunity to find, build and participate in communities.

Traditionally, small biz owners were cut out of the advertising game, simply due to lack of big-spend budgets. Now, we can pay a more modest amount to reach a super targeted group of our best-fit clients and customers on social media.

Our tiny and nimble companies can reach entirely new audiences while keeping loyal audiences excited and engaged, and a paid social campaign can help with both of these audience-building ambitions.

Of course, without preparation and structure, your first paid campaign is doomed to falter. And in my experience, when a small business owner doesn’t see results from one paid effort, they’re hesitant to try again. For good reason! We don’t have money to burn here, people!

So, before you dive into Facebook Ads Manager or YouTube commercials, here’s what you need to gather:

#1: Target Audience Profiles

Before you market anything, you must know who you’re marketing to. This essential step is often overlooked with the presumptuous attitude: “my offer is for everyone!”  But let me be the first to take you down a peg – it most definitely is not. In a paid social campaign, it is imperative to dive deep into the demographics, psychographics and other interests of your ideal audience, or you’ll lose out on the opportunity to really refine who sees your ads and where!

#2: Objective(s)

For the love of puppies, please please please determine your desired quantitative goals for your campaign before diving in. For example, are you hoping to increase traffic to a landing page on your website? Grow your email list by adding new subscribers? Sell a number of workshops or consultation spots or tickets to an event? Write down some qualitative goals as well. Maybe you want to see more of a certain type of person following your social profile or subscribing to your channel. Maybe you want to encourage higher engagement in comments and shares to increase your organic reach. Maybe you want to come out of this with higher quality leads that are more aligned with your premium-priced offers.

#3: Budget

It sounds like “duh,” but you need to do some math. Determine the budget for your campaign. And don’t forget to detail how you intend to use this budget – how much are you spending on content creation, on lead ads, on retargeting?

#4: Organic vs. Paid Approach

Explain how you intend to use social media’s organic reach in addition to your paid advertising. Will you be sharing other (related) content surrounding your more sales-oriented paid ads? How will you balance out your strategy so you aren’t only showing up to sell, but you’re continuing to nurture your existing audience?

#5: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Without thoughtful measurement, we can’t learn from or improve on our past efforts. If you felt like the last time you made blueberry muffins, there weren’t enough blueberries, but you didn’t actually measure how many you put in the batter, how will you know how many to add next time you bake? Make sure you’re thinking about what the key performance indicators are for this marketing campaign. Are you sure you can track them? What will they tell you about the success of the strategy?

#6: Content

There is no ad campaign without content. We all know we’re competing more and more furiously for the attention of our audience each year. And social media users now have shorter attention spans than that of goldfish. If you aren’t coming up with thumbstopping imagery and compelling copy, you’re doomed to be ignored. Summarize the content you intend to create to run your campaign successfully. What videos or photos will you need to create and use? Do you need to plan some content creation time into your schedule?

#7: Context

Don’t forget that every short-term campaign lives in your larger, big-picture strategy. Consider how your ad campaign will support your company’s email marketing, web traffic, fundraising strategies, customer support and overall purpose and mission. Where does it fit in the overall context of building awareness and visibility for your company as a whole? How can you harness the energy of this new audience after the campaign ends? How will you grow longer lasting, more meaningful relationships?

I strategize, consult and manage digital marketing and communications for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. I’m based in Brooklyn, because I have a thing for exposed brick, cozy, local coffee shops and the can’t stop, won’t stop energy of New York.

Because I work with small companies, I get the chance to really know my clients – what makes them tick and how and why they should stand out in a crowded marketplace. A lot of my clients have a smaller staff, a limited budget and are already stretched thin for time. This leads us to tailor marketing strategies and solutions to each company’s unique needs and actual capacity.