Trailblaze & Grow Tag: social media

Social Media Advertising

Is Advertising on Social Media Worth It?

Social media advertising has become a multi-billion dollar industry over the past couple of years. According to recent reports, social media ad spending came in at around $2.9 billion in 2014, representing about 58% growth over 2013. Clearly, many companies believe that advertising on social media is, in fact, worth it and there are a number of reasons why this is the case. The following are four of the most prominent reasons why social media advertising is growing in popularity:

Great ROI Compared to Traditional Advertising Platforms

Most industry experts agree that social media advertising offers a fantastic return on investment. The real challenge is determining how one wants to quantify that return. For example, obviously clicks and sales conversions are important metrics, but what about brand awareness? Brand awareness is sometimes the primary reason for an advertising campaign, yet there aren’t any reliable metrics to determine how much brand awareness an advertising campaign produced. That being said, most consider the cost per thousand impressions, or “CPM”, to be a reliable metric of cost-effectiveness, particularly with regard to brand awareness.

Globally, the cost to reach one thousand impressions is around $0.75, according to Facebook. However, that number varies wildly depending on the region, industry, and a number of other factors. That being said, this cost is a dramatic reduction compared to other advertising platforms, which could typically be as much as one hundred times more expensive! However you look at it, social media advertising provides an almost unparalleled return on investment when utilized properly.

Highly-Targeted Advertisements

In addition to being more cost-effective, social media advertising can be much more highly targeted to the right audience. Thanks to the wealth of personal information contained on social media platforms such as Facebook, advertisers are able to target as narrow of an audience as they’d like. Everything from geographic location, age, marital status, interests, diets, and income can be filtered for in an advertising campaign. Advertisers can even choose distinct campaigns for different targeted groups, further increasing the potential ROI of a social media advertising campaign.

Real-Time Analytics

Unlike traditional advertising platforms, such as television or newspapers, social media advertising provides real-time information on the effectiveness of a campaign. Advertisers can see precisely how many impressions, clicks, and conversions each ad has generated and can adjust strategies accordingly. This also means that the number of dollars invested in a campaign can be increased or decreased on a minute-by-minute basis.

Ability to Change the Campaign at Any Time

Along with the ability to gauge the effectiveness of an advertising campaign in real-time, social media advertising can be changed mid-campaign. In fact, one of the best ways to conduct a social media advertising campaign is to have small “experimental” campaigns running, designed to test the effectiveness of each campaign. Experimental campaigns that prove to be effective can then receive the most significant percentage of the overall advertising budget.

At the same time, the effectiveness of each social media campaign can (and should) be constantly monitored for effectiveness. Advertisements that prove to be less effective can then be replaced by “experimental” ads that have proven to be effective in their smaller trials. This is just one example of how real-time information, in conjunction with the ability to change a social media advertising campaign at any time, can facilitate a more robust and effective advertising strategy.

Without a doubt, social media advertising is an effective way to reach a highly-targeted audience. Whether or not it is right for your company depends on your marketing and advertising goals.


Photo credit: mkhmarketing / Foter / CC BY


Don’t #BeSomebody

An integrated approach is essential to every marketing strategy.  As the internet of things has grown, a marketer must consider how offline activities will affect online activities, and vice versa.  With marketing undergoing rapid and massive changes, it is inevitable that there will be the occasional high-profile slip-up.

One of the biggest risks that any campaign faces, particularly when targeting younger demographics, is the risk of coming across as tone-deaf or otherwise hypocritical. This is exactly what happened when an experienced and highly successful marketing professional, Kash Shaikh, launched his much-maligned “inspiration” company, #BeSomebody (yes, it’s a hashtag and the company name).

The idea behind #BeSomebody was fairly simple. Connect aspiring hobbyists or professionals in everything from piano playing to scuba diving with actual experts who can teach them how to be successful in those fields. In order to market their company, #BeSomebody had the fairly unique idea of conducting inspirational assemblies at high schools throughout Texas and (eventually) the rest of the United States.

Unfortunately for Kash Shaikh and #BeSomebody, their message fell on unbelieving ears when they conducted an assembly at Austin High. Instead of finding the assembly inspirational, the students felt like Mr. Shaikh was using his particularly privileged experience (in the form of an impressive resume, extensive travel, and ability to live with his parents well into his adulthood) to connect with high school students, many of whom had little to none of the privileges that Mr. Shaikh had available to him.

Ultimately, the students at Austin High launched a robust campaign of mockery, in which the hashtag #Lookadouche was used to disseminate parody videos and other derisive material.

What we can learn from #BeSomebody

While #BeSomebody ultimately had a fairly bad reaction to their marketing strategy, there is still a great deal that we can learn not only from what #BeSomebody did wrong, but what they did right as well.

What #BeSomebody did wrong

Clearly, #BeSomebody made mistakes in the execution of their marketing plan. Perhaps the most egregious mistake they made was failing to test properly their message before going out to schools such as Austin High. If they had tested their message in a smaller, more focused setting, they probably would have found that their message came across as out of touch and hypocritical, and could have adjusted it (or scrapped it altogether).

The other misstep that #BeSomebody made was their reaction after the mocking campaign from the students at Austin High. Instead of taking the message in stride, Kash Shaikh acted fairly petulant, mocking everything from grammatical mistakes to the overall reaction of the students, including claims that the students simply lacked the proper passion and motivation. Clearly, this was not the right approach to take, which was proven by the fact that Mr. Shaikh later went on to apologize and thank Austin High for their “tough love”.

#BeSomebody could have even turned this situation around.  The company could have accepted the criticism and positively engaged in the conversation.  In 2005, a journalist created a blog called Dell Hell that chronicled the horrible customer service that he experienced.  Dell Hell caught fire, and many unhappy customers jumped on board.  However, Dell turned lemons into lemonade.  A couple of takeaways from the event include:

  • Real conversations are two-way.
  • Think before you talk—but always be yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to apologize.

These were a lesson the Dell learned in 2007, and it is just as powerful today.

What #BeSomebody did right

Despite the outcome, there is still a lot that can be learned about what #BeSomebody did well. For starters, they used a very creative marketing tool – high school assemblies – to reach their target market. If their message had gone over well, this would have proven to be an incredibly cost-effective way to build an audience for their app and their company. Additionally, #BeSomebody was able to execute a plan using a very small team and utilizing very little overhead.

At the end of the day, #BeSomebody is a lesson in testing one’s message and ensuring that the message actually resonates with the target audience. While they did make mistakes, #BeSomebody has a great team of creative and marketing experts. Whether or not #BeSomebody ultimately turns out to be a successful company, the team will find success one way or another. That being said, we should all look closely at what they did wrong and right, so we can avoid, or replicate, where appropriate.


Online Marketing

Online Marketing Trends in 2015

Online marketing, or digital marketing, has grown rapidly in recent years.  Two things are clear: online marketing is here to stay, and its growth is only set to accelerate in the future. The following are four of the trends expected to show themselves in 2015.

1. Content marketing will become increasingly important

Content marketing was one of the stars of 2014, and 2015 is set to continue and accelerate that trend. According to recent reports, more than half of business-to-business marketers are significantly increasing their budgets for content marketing in 2015. In addition, the type of content will shift toward long-form content, such as white papers, long blog posts and in-depth articles. Content marketing is becoming a vehicle not only for companies to market themselves but also to establish themselves as thought leaders in their niche or industry while also generating a loyal community or readership.

At the same time, there will still be a significant market for short-form content, which will primarily be utilized on social media platforms as a way to generate viral content.

2. Social media marketing will increasingly focus on mobile marketing

There are now more than 1 billion smartphone users worldwide. These users represent the most important segment of the Internet economy, as they are the ones who use the Internet the most, are the most engaged, and are most willing to post and share content – thereby contributing to content going viral. As a result, online marketing will continue to focus on content that is optimized for the mobile format, which includes short-form content marketing, as well as social media advertising that is focused on the mobile platforms.

3. Email marketing will evolve

Email is one of the oldest technologies of the Internet and is sometimes overlooked by marketing agencies and departments that might prefer to utilize flashier and more cutting-edge digital marketing strategies. Nevertheless, email remains one of the most important marketing tools available, and 2015 promises to be another big year for email marketing.

That being said, email marketing will also see a significant increase in the number and quality of tools available for marketing campaigns. One of the most significant trends is an increase in email analytics data, which helps marketers determine how often emails are opened and how often the links within those emails are clicked. The ability to determine which emails are most effective can then be used to create more effective email campaigns.

Email is also increasingly being used as a gateway to social media channels. In the past, email was largely considered its own section of an overall marketing strategy. However, the goal of email marketing campaigns is increasingly to drive traffic to social media platforms, where that traffic can be presented with a company’s social media marketing campaign.

4. Digital marketing budgets will increase

Perhaps the most fundamental trend in digital marketing is the fact that the industry is growing rapidly. With the number of Internet users increasing and knowledge about how to monetize that traffic increasing at the same time, it makes sense that budgets directed toward these efforts would grow as well.

According to recent reports, about 80 percent of companies are expected to increase their digital marketing budgets in 2015, with the vast majority of those companies expecting to increase their budgets between 5 and 15 percent.

At the same time, the number of workers in the digital marketing industry is expanding as well, with digital/social, content creation, data/analytics and mobile strategy among the skills most highly valued by marketing agencies hiring new employees.


Photo credit: Will Lion / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND