You probably know that you have to meet your audience where it is, especially online. You might also know that your target audience is more likely to be on certain social media platforms than anywhere else in the digital landscape. But did you know that a proven way to connect with that audience on social media is via paid campaigns?
Organic reach on social media is down — near zero on some platforms. Social platforms like Meta don’t deny this and even say it makes sense. After all, with thousands of people and businesses competing for audience attention, there’s only so much to go round. That’s why paid social campaigns are so important — and why you have to put some strong creative effort behind those campaigns.
Why Does Creative Matter for Paid Social Campaigns?
Many people turn to social media when researching a purchase decision. They might want to ask their followers for recommendations or connect with a brand’s profile to learn more about it. This makes paid social campaigns potentially lucrative because you can get your product or service in front of people who are actively looking for information about them.
However, everyone else is doing the same thing, which means your campaigns must be backed by strong creative elements. The goal is to capture audience attention, make a connection, and entice the person to follow through on your call-to-action — all within just a few seconds!
“Your ad design and testing processes are the cornerstone to moving paid social performance. All these platforms are so visual that you really need to have content that stands out to ensure your brand is being seen and heard.”
– Avi Ben-Zvi, VP, Paid Social at Tinuiti
7 Paid Social Creative Best Practices
Successful paid social campaigns are built on a few best practices. Discover seven ways you can increase the success of your social campaigns below.
1. Set Measurable Goals for Each Ad
The right goals are critical to success. Without goals, you don’t even know when you’ve reached success. By taking time to set goals for each ad, you also ensure that all your efforts align with your business goals. This can avoid falling into common traps, such as seeking to go viral on social media simply for the sake of vanity metrics.
Ensure that your goals are measurable, too. Strong goals are built on performance marketing metrics such as click-through rates or conversions driven by a specific ad.
2. Know Your Audience
You can’t succeed with creative campaigns on social unless you know your audience. First, you have to know where your audience is likely to be. Are they reading posts on Facebook or Reddit, or are they watching Instagram reels and TikToks?
Once you decide which platforms you need to target, knowledge of your audience helps you understand how best to target them. For example, you might know your audience is on Instagram. But you also need to know whether they’re likely to engage better with reels, stories or traditional feed posts.
Finally, when you know your audience, you can better target them with messaging. For example, you can create an ad or video that offers a specific solution that’s highly relevant to your audience.
3. Match Your Creative to Conversion Funnel Stages
Paid social campaigns should address each part of the marketing funnel. We recommend creative several different ad designs that will shepherd your audience through each stage seamlessly.
Top of Funnel — Awareness
The awareness stage is all about first impressions and making people aware of your goods and services. You may also need to make them aware of the need for your products. Creative at this stage should be eye-catching, helping to pull people’s attention away from your competitors while ensuring they’re likely to remember your brand later.
Middle of Funnel — Consideration
During consideration, individuals understand the need for a solution and they are evaluating whether it might be right for them. They may be considering factors such as features and benefits, price, shipping or quality. You still need to keep your ad creative short and sweet, but at this stage of the funnel, you also need to infuse it with helpful information.
Bottom of Funnel — Conversion
Here’s where you make your best offer and back it with an easy-to-follow call-to-action. To cinch a conversion, draw attention to coupon codes, free shipping, limited-time offers, or another incentive in this stage of the funnel.
4. Optimize Creative for Mobile and Desktop
Did you know that approximately 83% of all social media visits occur on mobile devices? While that’s a staggering number, it also means 17% of visits are occurring on desktop – so if marketers don’t create ads optimized for mobile and desktop, they may be leaving money on the table.
Your creative needs to work on both mobile and desktop devices to maximize your reach. If your time and budget allows, it’s best to create two different versions of the same ad: One optimized for desktop, and one optimized for mobile. Otherwise, adopt a mobile-first approach. Keep in mind what works on mobile text- and image-wise is likely to work on desktop, but the opposite isn’t true.
5. Use Different Creative for Different Platforms
What works on one platform doesn’t always work on another, so don’t fall prey to the copy-and-paste mentality. For example, the type of images that might stop the scroll for your audience on Instagram may not stand out on Twitter or Facebook. You may have better luck on those platforms with clever writing and relevant links.
And even if one media format works on several platforms, the intricacies of each platform means your ad won’t be one-size-fits all. For example, TikTok and Instagram reels have a different user interface, so your content might be obscured by buttons or captions. Additionally, the Instagram algorithm is different from the TikTok algorithm – so an ad that goes viral on TikTok could get no engagement on Instagram.
6. Remember: People Turn Their Sound Off
Never rely solely on sound to connect with your audience. 69% of people consume online media with the sound turned off — even videos.
That means your creative has to include enough visual content to keep the viewer on board. Use captions so people can read your messages, and if sound is super important for a specific ad or video, include a “sound on” sticker to remind people to unmute the video. Know, however, that people may ignore your suggestions, so you still need to use captions and other elements to support a muted viewing experience.
7. Test and Learn From Previous Campaigns
No paid social media campaign is perfect, and you can always find ways to improve your efforts. Use A/B testing to find out what works best for your audience and look at data from previous campaigns to find takeaways that can be applied to future campaigns.
Just take it from Boston Proper, who partnered with Tinuiti’s Creative and Paid Social teams to run a series of A/B testing campaigns. Over the course of a year, Tinuiti’s Creative team executed a series of A/B testing on Facebook and Instagram (also known as the “Best Foot Forward” campaign) to better understand which ad format and creative was resonating with Boston Proper customers.
The results were outstanding. Boston proper saw a +37% increase in click-through rate (CTR) and a +11% increase in return on ad spend (ROAS). The “Best Foot Forward” ad is now a staple in the Boston Proper’s marketing mix. Since May 2021, it has consistently been the top-performing ad format run on the client’s account with the highest amount of purchases, most efficient CTR, and greatest ROAS.
“Adding Creative to our existing Tinuiti team made complete sense. We were looking to perfect our incredible assets into the paid social landscape, and this offered us the opportunity to do so seamlessly. The team took the time to understand who we are as a company, and more importantly who our customer is. They worked within our timelines and offered best practices and strategies that allowed us to see immediate increases in our paid social campaigns, which have since grown year over year, post-pandemic. The cooperation is augmented by having Creative integrated within the team, allowing us to move effortlessly from testing one creative to another while gleaning results. We look forward to maximizing our efforts further in the year to come along with the addition of influencers.”
– Bari Horton, Director of Marketing, Boston Proper
Ready to Start Your Paid Social Strategy?
Ready to rock new revenue or convert new customers? Paid social media campaigns can help you do that. If you’re ready to start creating successful campaigns, check out our Paid Social services – we’ll put those best practices above into action to increase your chances of success.