Q&A: Paid Social


We received a lot of questions during our April 3T paid social webinar. Because we like to keep these bite-sized presentations under 45 minutes, we were unable to answer them all, so we've enlisted our fearless speaker, Amy Rumpler, to answer them on our blog.

How do you improve on your relevance score for Facebook ads?

Since the relevance score is based on the amount of positive or negative feedback your ads receive, you want to minimize the amount of times someone hides your ad. A few easy ways to address this issue:

  • Check your ad's targeting: Make sure you're being specific enough with your audience, and that the message you're serving them is relevant to that target.
  • Check the ad's image and message: Follow best practices outlined by Facebook (minimal text; utilize the real estate around the ad to explain any offers, features, or benefits you're selling; avoid anything that might be offensive).
  • Consider rotating in multiple creative options if your audience reach is small, to reduce ad wear-out and over-saturation of one piece of creative. (Another advantage to this is Facebook will then optimize your campaign against the ads in rotation, serving the more relevant ones more often and the less relevant ones less often.)
  • Test new images, headlines, and other copy to see what connects best with your target audience.

What's your opinion on the new 'Snap-to-Store' Snapchat feature that will be able to tie ad vies to in-store visits/purchase? Will that be compelling enough for advertisers to jump on board with a clearer path or track ROI in place?

I certainly hope so, but it's unproven at this point. What we do know is that Snapchat has good offerings already tied to local events and activation (like their filters and lenses), and they can use ambient Wi-Fi, beacons, and other data (check-ins and posts) to know within a reasonable doubt when someone is in-location. Unfortunately for Snapchat, so does Facebook. And Facebook still wins in terms of scale, reach, data implantation, ad products available, etc. Not to mention that Instagram (owned by Facebook) is offering Instagram Stories as a direct competitor to these Snap Ads. I think for the right advertiser looking specifically for that younger audience, it may make sense. But for the vast majority of advertisers, they'll continue to lean toward Facebook/Instagram for ROI.

Are you able to order campaigns with a certain number of impressions on Facebook? How about the other platforms?

Ads are purchased in a real-time bidding environment, like a lot of programmatic exchanges. So, you bid for ad space/inventory based on how much you're willing to pay for impressions. You can usually back into a projection of about how many people you expect to reach, and based on average frequency for how often the ads are served, determine a benchmark for expected impressions. It's not a guarantee, however, that you'll receive those impressions. A lot of other factors are at play, such as:

  • How large is the audience you're trying to reach? When you layer on geography, demo, age, gender, or interest targeting, how does that affect your audience pool?
  • How are you optimizing who your ads are served to? Do you want maximum reach, or are you only looking for people likely to remember your ads or attend your event?
  • How relevant are your ads? If they're not connecting well with your target audience, Facebook will prioritize serving other ads over yours, through their auction algorithm.

With Instagram, how are people getting so many followers with only a few posts?

It depends! Ads could be the cause. You can still pay for additional page likes. There are other not-so-reputable sources and programs people use to buy fake page likes, too. I've even heard of people following pages of influencers and other bigger brands in their space – actively commenting and participating in engaging with their content – as a means to piggy-back on their community and attract followers. I do think in these cases, it's hard to keep those followers. I encourage you to think beyond followers/likes and look toward “harder" metrics as evidence of how pages are performing (and ads) to drive business – things like engagement rate, clicks on links, conversions, or ad recall, to name a few.

With Facebook ads, I usually just have them pick the bid automatically. Is that a best practice?

Sure! It's where most of us start. The advantage in doing so is that you let Facebook optimize the rate you're paying in the auction based on the type of ad you're buying, targeting you set, etc. Theoretically, Facebook will give you the best value they think they can.

But: As your campaigns progress and you start to get a better idea of what you think you should be paying for a CPM or a click or a lead generated, I'd encourage you to test manual bidding, too. With a little experimenting, it's definitely possible to drive just as efficient of results at a lower cost.

When talking about optimizing a post and submitting a bid, is that different than just boosting a post? If so, how?

Yes. Boosted posts are the most basic forms of advertising you can run on Facebook. They take content from your Facebook page (something you posted organically) and amplify it to a specific audience (reaching more of your current page fans, or an additional audience). The goal with those posts is usually just to get more people engaging with your content.

Facebook's ad products are more advanced, and allow you to tailor the ad content to a very specific audience – and they're designed to meet your specific campaign goal. They do not appear in your page's news feed at all. The auction we referred to and bidding types that are available (CPM, CPC, optimized bids) are used in the ad auction. Boosted posts are priced on reach – and how much you're willing to pay to have more people see your content.

Can you talk about your approach to promoted posts vs. paid ads and when to use them?

I think promoted posts are a good place to start if you've never spent money on social before. Boosting or promoting posts is very simple. You use content you've already organically posted to your page, and put paid spend behind it to increase the reach of that content – either to people already following your page or to another targeted audience. Promoted posts are useful when promoting short-lived events, for high-funnel awareness, or to grow engagement with your content.

Ads, on the other hand, are more complicated and more feature-full. To name a few benefits: We have many more targeting options available through the ad placement process, and you can custom design the creative to help drive toward your goal (for example containing clear call-to-action buttons to drive to a website; featuring multiple products/offers/images in a carousel format; or generating specific outcomes like downloads of a whitepaper, purchases, ticket sales, lead generation, form completions, etc.).

Ads also give you more options in terms of bidding optimization (paying for the specific outcome you want). Paid ads are where you probably want to go for campaigns that require certain outcomes, budgets, targeting strategies, or creative control.

What is the best way to gauge how much money you should be spending on a FB ad?

Work backwards based on the outcome you're trying to achieve. Set clear goals and be realistic about what success looks like to you. If your goal is to drive 1,000 sales or 10,000 clicks, understand that your budget is going to have to support that effort. If you want to test 10 different targeting tactics, you need enough budget allocated to each ad set to collect effective results. At the same time, understand that you have to start somewhere. You can always test, turn off what isn't working, and scale what is – growing the budget as you go.

With Facebook, it's a safe bet to use their automatic bid setting initially to get an idea of what your CPM or CPC should be coming in at, and then manually adjust from there. When you select the manual bid option within the Facebook platform, they'll recommend a range they think you should bid within to be competitive, based on the length of your campaign, your overall or daily lifetime budget, and the audience target parameters you've selected. And as a side note, Facebook requires your daily budget to be 5 times your bid rate. So if you bid $4 a click, factor on spending a minimum of $20 a day.

At Centro, before recommending a budget to our clients, we start by clearly outlining the campaign objectives, flight dates, and tactical plan. Then we test the audience size available in that target set – to make sure our budget recommendation is aligned appropriately.

Can you talk about the methods you use to estimate ad performance prior to launch?

We regularly log in and test audience size by creating a test campaign that is not activated. You can build out “fake" ad sets and vary the geographical area, demo targeting, or interests you layer on to see how your audience availability is affected.

Once we know about what our daily reach potential is, we can use an estimate of ad frequency to calculate impressions. Due to the high-volume of campaigns we run on behalf of our clients, we also have access to historical campaign performance data that breaks down by client vertical, by ad objective, and by creative type. Our team uses all of those past performance metrics to help indicate what our CTR, CPC, CPA, etc. should be.

The best way for agencies or companies just getting started to establish those same kinds of benchmarks for your campaigns is to test. Once you get started, track performance across each campaign you run, and use that data to help optimize future campaigns.

When talking about KPIs, how do you measure brand effect or ad familiarity?

Facebook has an algorithm that calculates it for you. They utilize metrics like number of people your ad reached, time spent with the ad (dwell time), and historical information from over 300 Nielsen brand studies that indicate the types of ads people are likely to remember.

You can also look like metrics like Ad Relevance, and the amount of positive/negative feedback your ads are receiving to measure how well they're connecting with your target audience.

What creative do you recommend to use on Instagram in order to get the most user engagement? I have found that it's difficult to get users to engage with posts because Instagram is such a scroll-heavy platform.

Any kind of video! Seriously, if you're not using videos, you should be. And they don't have to be complicated or overly produced. There's a great example I like to share from Inspiralizer, who used the Boomerang app to show one of their spiralizers turning a sweet potato into cool spirals. It was simple to produce, but highly engaging, and it linked directly to their website where you can buy the product.

Is it possible to over-saturate your social audience with ads, especially if you are targeting to one specific geographic area?

Definitely! Ad wear-out is a very real thing. You can avoid wear-out by running a few different versions of your ad creative concurrently, and rotating in new creative from time to time (monitor your results and be aware of drop-off in response).

Also consider mixing things up with a full-funnel objective strategy. For example, a brand awareness campaign that is “always on" and a website traffic or video views strategy to promote specific events/promotions.

For some of the Instagram ad options: Do you need to build and set up within Instagram instead of Ad Manager for Facebook?

No. All Instagram advertising is now managed through the Facebook Ads Platform (Ad Manager or Power Editor).

Any tips on how can I leverage Facebook platform to generate leads effectively?

The best ad options for this goal are typically conversions ads (driving to your website) or lead ads. Lead ads let you collect lead information directly within the platform without having to click off-site. They can be highly effective for businesses with non-mobile-optimized or non-user-friendly websites.

There are also lots of great targeting tactics that can be used effectively to drive additional lead generation, such as retargeting people who have visited your site but didn't fill out the form; people who opened your lead ad but did not complete the form; or conversion look-a-likes, which can reach people who are similar to people who have filled out your form previously.

Does Instagram's shoppable/tagged product feature potentially take away some of those same buyable pin ad dollars from Pinterest? Or will advertisers focus more on direct targeting on Instagram, vs. the less targeted discovery option on Pinterest?

The shoppable products on Instagram are currently only an organic offering – meaning you run into the same constraints as you do with any other organic post (only a small percentage of your organic followers will see that content).

If/when these expand into a paid offering, they will definitely compete with Pinterest. Where Instagram will win is on scale – even though Pinterest does a good job of reaching a certain percentage of the population, Instagram has way more reach in every demographic.

What are the minimum spends for the vertical video Snap Ads?

Our recommended starting budget is $30,000, although the strict minimums that apply to other types of Snapchat ads (filters/lenses) don't apply to this format. We've found that it takes a substantial investment to achieve reach and collect meaningful insights. The ideal investment depends on the market and audience you'd like to reach, of course, but in general, we haven't seen great results from campaigns spending below this amount.