As I've written before, social media can be a great place to generate new leads. Your organic social reach, though, typically will reach people who have already heard of your brand and products.  Social ads can be a perfect solution to augment your social strategy and bring in more new leads, brand awareness, and engagement with a unique audience.

According to Salesforce Marketing Cloud social advertising benchmark data, social advertising often has a relatively low cost for customer acquisition. Social advertising can be a great avenue for startups looking to gain traction with their first initial customers and users.

Whether you are already using social ads or not, check out these 10 social advertising best practices:

1. Set your budget and goals first.

As I've advised before when it comes to social advertising goals, your social strategy should always start with defining measurable objectives. Don’t use vague, imprecise objectives like “get more Twitter followers.” Define your objectives and what you are looking to accomplish. Are you trying to drive more app installs? Are you looking to reengage customers?

After defining these goals, set your advertising budgets and dig in.

2. Benchmark your performance with others in your industry.

Benchmarks for key social advertising metrics can help you evaluate performance of your own Facebook ads and gain a better understanding of industry averages. In the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Social Advertising Benchmark Report, analyzed data from more than 1 trillion Facebook ad impressions to present today’s most complete portrait of Facebook ad performance.

In our report, you’ll discover key Facebook advertising benchmarks (including CPC, CPM, and CTR) to help you evaluate your own ads and metrics. The report also separates performance averages by seven industries: consumer packaged goods, entertainment, financial services, gaming, retail, non-profit, technology, and travel and hospitality. Benchmarking your performance against that of others in your industry gives you a better view of how you are performing and where you can improve. 


3. Utilize “dark posts.”

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all offer the option for you to create “dark posts” in your advertising campaigns that will only be featured to your advertising audience and will not be shown on your public social profile. This can be a great way to personalize offers and messaging to different audience segments without spamming your loyal social audience.  Dark posts also allow you to make your ads much more personalized for your intended audiences.

4. Use mobile app ads to promote your mobile app.

New downloads and app engagement are two of the biggest challenges for marketers. Facebook and Twitter both now offer powerful ad units and tracking to grow your app install base. You also can target people who have already downloaded your app and send them to specific areas of your app to increase their engagement. 

You can learn more about Facebook’s mobile app ad solutions here.

5. Make your ads visually appealing.

Follow each social network’s own image guidelines and best practices for designing the creative for your social ads. Our research has found overall, though, that social posts with images perform much better than those without images. People love clicking on visually appealing social posts. Make sure your images are optimized to provide the best impact. You should also test different images with your audiences and see which images perform the best. Keep reading for more on testing.

6. Test, test, test.

Most marketers love to A/B test and compare creative and messaging options to optimize their communications. You should take the same approach with your social ads. Use A/B testing to improve and optimize your results.

When testing, make sure to limit the variable to just one element at a time — the headline, image, or call to action. You can use this to target very specific groups, but you need to make sure you have a big enough audience to make the time and effort worthwhile.

7. Use first-party data.

In my earlier post, I wrote a little bit on using custom audiences to personalize offers and make your social ads more impactful.

Using a tool like Active Audiences or, you can now reach customers and prospects you already know through social advertising. You are able to upload your own list of customers or prospects — like everyone who registered for last month’s webinar, downloaded a specific whitepaper, or attended your conference — and target them directly on Facebook or Twitter, giving you the ability to be much more personalized and targeted in your social advertising, moving these prospects further down the funnel toward purchase.

Using first-party data is a powerful tool for social advertisers to help compliment other campaigns and initiatives. It also provides that extra layer of personalization.

8. Personalize experiences.

I believe 2015 will be the year of personalization. More data is being created and collected than ever before. Make use of this data to create custom audiences and provide personalized experiences to these customers and prospects through social advertising. 

Use your list of customers registered for your annual conference, like Dreamforce, and send them a tailored social ad to download the event’s mobile app. You can also use social ads to send personalized offers to your loyalty program members or your high-value customers. Many avenues also exist to use social advertising to personalize the customer support experience with your brand. 

There are many different ways you can use social advertising and even your own data to provide highly personalized brand experiences. Utilize this opportunity. 

9. Nurture your existing prospects.

Social ads can also be used to nurture your existing prospects and move them down the funnel. Test different ways to target your hot, warm, and cold prospect lists and move them down the funnel. Integrate this with your marketing automation program and you can notify your sales reps as these leads are moving down the funnel, making them more effective. 

10. Think mobile-first.

Social media is being used more and more on mobile devices. LinkedIn reports that 70% of clicks to sponsored updates happen on mobile, Facebook has 1.12 billion mobile monthly active users, and 80% of Twitter active users are on mobile.

This should be top-of-mind as you implement your social campaigns. When it comes to your paid social advertising, make sure any CTA links lead to mobile-responsive landing pages. You should also optimize your lead-capture forms and even the deliverable you are promoting for mobile devices. Your audience is most likely viewing your ad on a mobile device. You don’t want a broken experience with a desktop-centric landing page or infographic. 

As with any marketing strategy or business decision in 2015, make sure you are also looking at it from a mobile perspective. You audience most likely is.

For more secrets to growing your startup, visit our website or download our e-book, Secrets to Small Business Growth: Tips from 3 Successful Entrepreneurs below.


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