Why Are Brands Failing at Social Ads? Blame Psychographics.

Techcrunch’s article defines it the best. There’s a clear difference between paid advertising (read: old media) and earned advertising (read: social).

For years, anyone with any sense for the social industry has been yelling that media has changed and how “old media” is dying. They yelled that social media was “different” and you couldn’t advertise to your fans/friends/followers like you did on TV in the 60’s and expect them to take it. Of course, that’s only half of the truth.

The real truth would be that “free” marketing on social channels is almost exclusively of the “earned” type.  The most succesful organicly grown communities have been cultivated by trust, and earned their position with their fan bases.  But to say that’s the whole story is to deprive marketers of every avenue they can take to get their target markets’ attention quickly, I’m talking about Social Ads.

What are social ads

For the easiest picture of what social ads are, think of Facebook Ads. Social Ads target users by things they like,

I HATE when people use graphics like this...

and are interactive in some way or the other (i.e. user can give feedback on the ad itself). If you think about that for a second you realize that the mindset you need to be successful in an ad campaign in the social space has shifted.

What is the big difference

Think about Neilson ratings for a second.  How do they break down their markets? We’ve all heard it somewhere, this show reaches the “18-35 demographic”.  This show has a “male audience”, this show relates to “unmarried women in their 30’s with 2 children”…

Those are all demographics, or, what the target market looks like.  even today, when my biz partner gets on a call with a customer, he asks, “Who is your tartget market, and how are you reaching them now?”  The answer is almost always in the format of demographics. Men over 30. Women under 28. Grey hair. Two kids.

This is where marketers are being left behind. Social ads target demographics, but only as a base metric.  The real power of Social Ads is on the targeting of Psychographics, or how your customer thinks about certain things.


No, I did not make that word up. Nor am I making the following statement up:

Understanding the Psychographics of your target market is the most important part of running a successful ad campaign on social media today

Now you know why the ROI on social ads is horrible for 90% of the brands that try them out.

PSYCHOgraphics...not Psychic Graphics... *facepalm*

Marketers, and even moreso, small business owners haven’t been trained to even think about the psychographics of their target market. In an old media ad campaign you would only need to target, “Women over 30 who have 2 children“. But in a social ad campaign, you would target, “Women over 30, with 2 kids, who think they married the wrong guy and want to know what their high school sweetheart is up to on Facebook“.


What Are The Benefits?

The benefits of adding psychographics to your arsenal of identifying your target market is that you only speak to those in your market that are open to your message.  You’ll never get all of the “Women over 35” demographic, that’s always a losing battle.  But you can get the attention of an overwhelming majority of “Women over 35 who think George Clooney is the bees knees” (yep, I said that).

If your marketing message only reaches those who give a shit, then a couple of things happen: First your target audience should get smaller, which should lower your overall budget.  Second, your costs for acquisition should be lower because your audience will be primed for your message because you’re only saying what they’re already thinking.

Keys to success on social ads

So I say all of that to say what?

First of all, if you haven’t tried a social ad campaign, you need to.  Facebook Ads, Linkedin Ads, Stumbleupon, and Twitter Ads (when they let the rest of us use them) are the future of advertising, hands down.  You can either learn about them now, or you can pay somebody to teach you about them later on (yep, I did that too).  Your choice.

Second, there are a couple of tips that I want to offer to those of you who are thinking of diving into social advertising, if I may be so pompus 🙂

Know Your Target Market Well

Most entrepreneurs don’t have the slightest clue on who their target market is.  And in the social space, that’s a death knell if there ever was one.  Not knowing who the hell you want to talk to gives you all types of problems.

First, you tend to think everybody is in your market, which leads you to the life of a spammer. Stop! Just…Stop.

Second, you can be lead astray by inferior markets, as I suggested in my confession on where to buy fans and followers, getting people isn’t nearly as important as getting the right people. And by nearly, I mean…at…all.

Last(ly?), there’s no feeling like nailing a target market down in a social ad.  It’s the difference between spending $100 a day for lead acquisition and $20 a day for the same amount of leads. I can’t stress enough that when you know your market inside and out, getting their attention costs you less and less. Write that down somewhere and look at it often.

Split Test Everything

Pictured: Less than 1% of Ad Campaign Grades

You know what else is cool about psychographics? Every market in infinitely splitable into smaller sub-markets. For example, remember our George Clooney ladies from earlier? Well they can be split into groups like “Women over 35 who liked George Clooney best in Burn After Readingand “Women over 35 who liked Goerge Clooney best in Oceans 11“. Which means that each of those sub-groups have little nuances that they like more or less than the other groups.

what this means to you is that you have to tweak your campaign and find out exactly what these nuances are, and if you do, jackpot.  you have a full target market ready to eat out of the palm of your hand.  If not, you may still do well, but you’ll never reach your full capacity for this market.  Split testing allows you to figure out what works and leave out what doesn’t.  You don’t have to always get .01 clicks on Facebook, but you do want to get the lowest cost per lead that you can for your company.

Become Best Friends With Reports

Once you launch your ad campaign, you should only be looking at reports from then on.  This is a social campaign, so the only thing that matters is how your market is interacting with your ads.  Don’t tweak your ads because of your feelings, only respond to the numbers in the reports.  I can’t tell you how many brands we hear of that change a picture, or change copy because it doesn’t “sound right”, or “feel right” to an executive in their company, only to have devastating effects on their ad campaign.  What you think doesn’t matter, it’s how the market responds that’s the key.

All in all social ads can be exciting, frustrating, profitable, and a money sink…all in the same campaign sometimes. But at the end of the day it’s not about the ads.  As always, keep your focus on your target market, and anticipate their needs, and you’ll be rewarded with profitability for a long time to come.

Have you every tried to run a social ad campaign?  How did it go?

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