One of the best things about advertising on social media is that a small spend will get you a lot farther than on any other channel — digital or otherwise. Even $5 can buy you a number of engagements, clicks and eyeballs that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.
But on Twitter, $5 can buy you something a lot more valuable — a data mine that you can use to redefine your entire digital strategy.
When you run a Twitter ad, regardless of whom you target, Twitter will provide a list of additional audience interests shared by the people who saw and might have engaged with your ad. No other channel provides this level of information.
Here is our “$5 Twitter Ad Three-Step Method” to optimize your brand’s Facebook advertising strategy.
Here is how you can use a $5 Twitter ad to redefine your Facebook advertising strategy…
Step 1: Set Up a $5 Twitter Ad
The key to setting up your $5 Twitter ad is to build an ad that is as engaging as possible, so that you will gather a wealth of useful data to mine.
The goal right now is not to raise awareness for your brand or to push product; it’s to glean highly specific demographic information about your audience that you will sift to create messaging and targeting groups who convert on social channels.
First, create a Twitter ad with simple content that you know will engage “your” audience — the folks you want to reach. In fact, the ad doesn’t need to be run from your brand account at all. If you want, you can run it from a personal or even a test account.
Just take what you know about the people whom you want to reach right now, write a Tweet that they won’t be able to resist and make sure to include an image. You’ll want to do this data-gathering process via a promoted Tweet campaign with Tweet engagements as the campaign objective.
For example, we promoted this Tweet from Social Outlier’s account to Twitter users who talk about the Little League World Series when it’s on television. It doesn’t matter when the ad runs.
Unique to Twitter, this tactic is called “TV Targeting.” While it may not be applicable in every audience scenario, if yours fits we highly recommend using TV Targeting because it automatically has a higher engagement rate.
These aren’t just people who may have an interest in a broad topic — these are people who have actively engaged with a television show in the Twittersphere.
That’s it for the ad set up!
Second, just let the ad run out the $5 budget. We recommend letting it go for about a day or so. Then, come back for Step 2.
Step 2: Prepare, Analyze and Apply the Data
Remember, the actual purpose of your $5 Twitter ad was not brand awareness or Tweet engagement. Your purpose was to purchase a wealth of data. In Step 2, we analyze that data.
Prepare: Export and Clean Audience-Interest Data
Once you’ve completed the run of your $5 ad spend, visit your campaign dashboard and export from the “Interests” tab.
Do this twice — once “by day” and once “by hour.” Open up the daily export and save the hourly export for later. We’ll touch on this hourly data later in Step 3.
Second, let’s make three cuts to clean up the data.
Cut 1: Delete any rows that have 0 impressions or 0 spend.
Cut 2: Sort by impressions and delete any rows that have less than about 10-15 total impressions.
Cut 3: Sort by engagement rate and delete approximately the bottom third.
Your data should now look substantially cleaner and more manageable than the original export.
Third, we’re going to add three columns to the spreadsheet, so we can analyze optimal performance by audience interest.
The first additional column is Engagement Rate/CPE (Cost Per Engagement). This column will give you a ranked list of the most cost-effective interest groups to target.
The other two additional columns both involve Media Views. Remember how we said to include an image in your promoted Tweet? Now, you’ll see why.
While an engagement, as defined by Twitter, can be something as basic as a click, a Media View is only counted when someone stops and spends a specified amount of time looking at your image. These folks actually stopped on their feed to interact with your Tweet — not just clicked and moved on.
So, the next two columns that you’ll add are Media Views/Impressions — essentially to give you a rate for Media Views and Media Views/Engagement Rate — to give you an engagement rate that combines both Media Views and total engagements.
Analyze: Use Logic and Math to Determine Your Best Audience Interests
Not all interests are created equal. Remember, what we’re looking for are super-specific, oddball interests that help you get to the heart of your audience, the folks who really care — and act.
So, a broad interest like “Mobile phone usage” may appear at the top of your list, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to help you. Something like “American cuisine” is going to give you a much more defined — and therefore cheaper — audience to target.
Also, the more unusual the interest, the less marketers are probably trying to target it, meaning that reaching these folk will cost you less in an ad spend and give you more bang for your buck. They will respond to fellow like-minded folk with loyalty and mutual support — they will act.
Make sure to pay attention to interest categories as well as to interests alone. For example, “Technology” may look like a broad interest, but when you see the category is “Business,” you can presume that these people either work or would like to work in the technology field; suddenly, the interest becomes a lot more specific.
Finally, sort your spreadsheet by the three columns you added, one at a time, and look through the top interests for ones meeting your criteria — somewhat unique and score relatively high across all of your columns.
We chose these:
Apply: Create a Hyper-Targeted “Saved Audience” for Facebook Ads
The beauty of this method is that you can implement this $5 data mine several ways, including Twitter advertising and content creation. But for the purpose of this explanation, we’re going to focus on how we can use your treasure trove to optimize Facebook advertising.
What Twitter gave you was a list, but what we’re going to do in Facebook is to convert that list into a “Saved Audience” that combines interest and behavior targeting so that you get a highly specific and qualified audience that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to reach via ads.
Before you import interests into your Facebook Saved Audience, check the other demographic information from your Twitter advertising dashboard. This info will tell you gender, location and devices that are characteristic of your audience. Based on your overall campaign objectives and the data from Twitter, you can determine whether or not to further segment your audience by gender, city and mobile device.
When it comes to adding interests from your Twitter ad into a Facebook Saved Audience, it’s crucial to separate interests from behaviors and demographics. This separation is especially important because when you create a list of multiple behaviors or interests in Facebook ads, Facebook will target that ad to people who are interested in any of the interests or meet any of the behaviors — not all of the interests or behaviors — which spreads out your audience and potentially dilutes your careful targeting.
But when combined, Facebook will ensure your audience meets at least one of your listed interests or behaviors, as well as all of your demographic targeting. You have sifted out pure golden data — the most effective way to refine an audience.
We created this Facebook Saved Audience based on the interests from our Twitter ad. You can see how we input the interest “College students” under the “Life stages” category as a demographic indicator on Facebook. Now, we know this ad will only target people who are currently in college.
We entered “Horror shows” as a behavioral indicator. Then, we chose three interests to input into interest targeting — “American Cuisine” (Cuisine of the United States), “Olympics” and “Science News.”
“Why ‘Horror shows’?” I hear you ask. “Horror” is exactly the kind of odd, unexpected finding we are looking for. We are searching for that quirky “Who knew?” revelation. A lot of the people who are tweeting about the Little League World Series also are interested in “Horror shows.”
We have discovered that this group of people likes a small niche that costs a lot less to target ads. Buying “Little League World Series” will cost you big bucks rather than the pennies you’ll pay for “Horror.” While you will not get all of the market that “Little League World Series” gets you, you will get enough of that more expensive market to make the strategy worthwhile without your having to pay those top-dollar prices.
This filtering resulted in an audience of 24,000. A good rule of thumb is to keep your audience under 25,000 — anything beyond that will be too broad. If you have some budget to play with, try separating out each interest into a separate audience and test, test, test.
Step 3: Determine the Best Time to Reach Your Audience
Remember how we had you export the hourly CSV and tuck it away for later? For Step 3, pull it out to find the best times to reach your audience.
Twitter defaults to GMT, so first convert the data to your time zone. Make this change by adding or subtracting the hours needed to get from GMT to your time zone and dividing by 24.
Second, clean up your data once again by deleting all the rows with 0 impressions or $0 spend.
Third, filter the interests to include only the interests that you selected earlier in the process.
Fourth, using Excel’s “Text to Columns” feature, separate the date and the hour into two different columns.
Fifth, sort by hour.
At last, you can see the hours of the day when your hyper-targeted audience is most likely to see and interact with your content.
For your Facebook ad, leverage this timing information by running your ads on a schedule, corresponding to these peak times, rather than running the ads all the time.
Of course, this timing information is useful far beyond Facebook advertising. You can also use it for Twitter ads and to set your posting schedule.
Exactly what you get out of your $5 Twitter ad will vary depending on your target audience and your ultimate brand goals. But this method can really be applied across the board. We each have an audience we want to reach and every audience is rich with data waiting to be uncovered.
Testing the assets you create with data from your $5 Twitter ad is key to long-term success. The more you optimize over time, the stronger your ads will be. Eventually, you’ll see more conversions for lower and lower ad spends.
How can you apply this method> to your brand strategy? Tell us in the comments below!
These digital days, content has taken on a new meaning. Over the years, it has gained significance and become one of the key drivers of significant growth.
However, while everyone might be talking about it, not everyone knows how to use their content marketing strategy effectively, despite the cliché saying, “content is king” echoing throughout the business industry.
Content plays a vital role in delivering return on investment. It is perhaps one of the most effective marketing strategies businesses can rely on to generate leads. Statistics show that 71 percent of B2B companies use content for lead generation. But not all of them have become successful. Here’s what you can do to make your content effective at delivering ROI.
Use Contextual Content
This is the starting point of any content marketing strategy. Creating content within the correct context is vital. You have to consider what your target audience needs—what they are looking for and the answers they’re seeking. Adjust your content to what your potential customers need, not the other way around. Context simply means customizing your content based on where and how your audience reads it.
This requires a lot of research before you can arrive at a potential contextual topic. Before you can arrive at a topic, you first have to determine you target audience—what they love to read and how they consume your content. Is it through laptops, tablets, or smartphones? By careful considering these factors, you will be able to come up with the right content that will capture the interests of your target market.
Create a Personality
In content marketing, your personality counts—a lot. It is the way you deliver your message to your readers or target consumers in a unique and clear manner.
It is not just about your choice of words or how you construct your sentences. It’s about how you create your name from your content. Imagine removing the logo and the brand from your content. Can your consumers still tell it’s yours?
There are simple ways you can create personality in your content. Try telling a story, write it in a unique tone, and blend humor to make your content reactive and stand out from the rest.
Use Semantic Keywords
Though keywords are not the focus of digital marketing anymore, they do carry weight. Incorporate latent semantic indexing in your content to boost your organic traffic.
But what if too many keywords make your content unappealing? Avoid keyword stuffing to ensure great content. This is when we have to make use of our LSI. LSI keywords are keyword-related terms you can sprinkle all over your content. To search for semantic keywords, try searching for your chosen topic in your browser. The suggested terms are your LSI keywords. If you want to be specific, you can also try Google Adwords keyword planner.
Don’t Settle on Your Blog Alone
When your blog fails, how can you deliver ROI from your content? While setting up a blog can help in generating leads, it is not enough. Try to find other mediums where you can post content and deliver information to your target users.
Reach out to other marketers within your industry, and see if you can exchange valuable content with one another. Not only does it help you in content distribution, but it will also help you in expanding your reach to their audience.
As content marketers, we rarely come up with a unique topic that no one else on the web has written about. Instead, focus on writing a unique piece for each prospective blogging platform and adapt to their writing style.
Create a Variety of Content
How do you create share-worthy content? Creating a text-based piece can only do so much. Content marketing is more than writing blogs. When you think you have exhausted all topics through blogging and content writing, try repurposing and repackaging your articles.
Consider other types of content to help you drive more traffic, generate leads, and boost conversions. Infographics, videos, Powerpoints, and downloadable PDFs are just a few on the many content types you can try.
Nail Your Call-to-Action
How will you encourage your target users to take the next step? Create a call-to-action. As a content marketer, you are not creating content to impress, but most importantly, to persuade. CTAs play a crucial role in urging users to explore your business. The correct use of a CTA can promote lead generation and conversion.
How you include CTAs varies from one piece of content to another. Some content works best when you end it with a question, while others are better ended with an encouragement to post opinions in comments. It’s up to you to decide which CTA works best.
Build a Social Interaction
The importance of social media in digital marketing cannot be stressed enough. When it comes to content, social media is the heart of content distribution. Both content and social media work hand-in-hand to boost marketing efforts. Social media enables content to be distributed in various channels. This expands the reach to a wider audience and encourages customers’ responsiveness.
Make It Measurable
How will you know if your content marketing goals have been reached? For every goal you set, you have to figure out a way to measure your growth. The effectiveness of various types of content cannot be derived by a mere assumption. Data and supporting information are needed to measure how your content contributed in delivering ROI to your business.
To measure content effectiveness, there are several types of content metrics you need to consider, including shares, traffic, and lead generation. You can use Google Analytics or other effective online analytics tools to measure content metrics.
Content marketing plays a vital role in the growth of your business, but that role isn’t just about creating content. As a content marketer, you have to extend your effort to drive leads, deliver ROI, and achieve a job well-done.
What makes you stop scrolling through an article, open up a social media app and hit the share button?
Is it logic, emotion, or something else?
Turns out, there’s more to social sharing than just measuring metrics:Psychology.
The strange nature of our brains is the reason we hotly debate the color of a dressor why we freely and emotionally share a post by a grieving widow after the death of her husband or why we feel an urgent need to pass on that video of the ice-cream eating dog to our animal-loving father-in-law. (Guilty!)
It’s not logic that guides those shares; it’s emotion. How else can you explain 8.2 million hits to a YouTube music video that a majority of people claim to have not liked?
If you want your content to be shared and shared regularly, understanding the “why” and “how” behind social shares can go a long way in showing you how tocraft the perfect post for your audience. In order to do so, you might want to:
Understand why people share content
Know what kind of content they’re more likely to share
Set about the task of creating content that satisfies those emotions
We’ve put together a few handy tips on how to understand what your audience wants and start the process of delivering it to them.
5 Reasons Why People Share to Social Media
1. Neuroscience: We share to entertain, inspire, and be useful
Even though social media does have a tendency of having people focus on themselves, the primary reason that people share things on their Facebook pages or Twitter feeds, research shows, is to be useful to others.
In a 2013 study conducted by psychologists at UCLA, the researchers were, for the first time, able to determine which brain regions are associated with ideas that become contagious and which regions are associated with being an effective communicator of ideas.
The TPJ or the temporoparietal junction is this area of the brain that lit up during functional magnetic resonance imagine (fMRI) brain scans when people were first exposed to new ideas that they would later recommend.
Matthew Lieberman, a UCLA professor of psychology and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences and author of the book Social: Why Our Brains are Wired to Connect, noted:
Our study suggests that people are regularly attuned to how the things they’re seeing will be useful and interesting, not just to themselves, but also to other people. We always seem to be on the lookout for who else will find thishelpful, amusing or interesting, and our brain data are showing evidence of that. At the first encounter with information, people are already using the brain network involved in thinking about how this can be interesting to other people. We’re wired to want to share information with other people. I think that is a profound statement about the social nature of our minds.
2. Psychology: We share to express who we really are
In 1986, psychologists Hazel Markus and Paula Nurius recognized that there is a disparity between our “now self” and our “possible self.”
In a paper they published at the time, they developed the concept of our possible selves:
the ideal selves that we would like to become
the selves that we could become, and
the selves that we are afraid of becoming
This first self, the idealized version of ourselves is what we frequently tend to share on social media.
Whether or not this representation of our possible self is realistic or not is irrelevant, researchers note. The point is that we’re picturing in our minds this possible self that we are or may someday be and sharing information that fits in with this notion of who we are.
When we share in this mode, sometimes what we’re sharing is a sense of our ideal self and who we aspire to be. This is why some people share political commentary, outrage over particular issues, and success stories of people who they hope they can be like someday.
As the authors themselves so eloquently note:
Possible selves contribute to the fluidity or malleability of the self because they are differentially activated by the social situation and determine the nature of the working self-concept. At the same time, the individual’s hopes and fears, goals and threats, and the cognitive structures that carry the are defining features of the self-concept: these features provide some of the most compelling evidence of continuity of identity across time.
3. Community: To nurture our relationships
Whenever I see a funny comic about procrastination, I share it with my closest friend, a proud procrastinator. Whenever I see a funny dog video, I send it straight to my father-in-law, the animal lover.
Every time I see any of these things, I feel an immediate connection to those people. I think of them and feel the urge to share what I’ve found with them.
I’m not alone.
In a study undertaken by The New York Times Customer Insight Group in conjunction with Latitude Research titled “The Psychology of Sharing: Why Do People Share Online?” 78% of respondents said that they shared information online because it let them stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with.
Further, 73% of them said they shared information because it allowed them to connect with others who shared their interests.
4. Motivation: To feel more involved
In my days of daily journalism, an editor at a local newspaper once told me his fix for a slow news day.
Dogs and babies.
“They’re cute,” he would say. “They pull at your heartstrings. No one can resist a cuddly dog or a cute baby. Preferably both together.”
The medium may have changed but the message hasn’t. People still love cuddly dogs, cute babies, preferably both together.
In fact, as far back as fifty years ago, studies were being undertaken to see why people talked about brands and coming to the same conclusions that we are today. In 1966, in a study reported on by the Harvard Business Review, the researcher Earnest Dichter found that 64% of sharing is about the sharer themselves.
He noted that there were four motivations for a person to communicate about a brand.
The first (about 33% of the time) was because of product-involvement, that isthe experience was so good, unique, or new that it had to be shared.
The second (about 24%) was self-involvement, that is, to gain attention byshowing people that you were part of an exclusive club of buyers or had inside information.
The third (around 20%) was other-involvement, that is wanting to help out and express caring or friendship.
And finally, the fourth (also around 20%) was message-involvement, that is,the message was so wonderful or funny or brilliant that it deserved to be shared.
5. Altruism: To get the word out about specific causes
In the New York Times Customer Insight Group report, 84% of respondents said they share because “it is a way to support causes or issues they care about.”
In fact, the report further goes to show that 85% of people say reading other people’s responses helps them understand and process information and events. So not only do we share information about the causes that are dear to us, but we respond to causes that are dear to other people if they take the time to share that information with us through social media.
Remember the ALS Ice Bucket challenge?
What People Share and How to Make Your Content Go Viral
In a research study titled “Why Content Goes Viral,” assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School of Business Jonah Berger (who you may also know as the author of the book Contagious) and co-author Katy Milkman looked at 7,000 articles published at The New York Times to see which ones got the most views and social shares and why. The goal of the study was to document what makes content go viral and how to replicate those findings to create viral content.
This infographic from CoSchedule does a great job capturing some of the findings of the study:
The researchers from the study came up with three key ideas based on their findings:
1. Positive content trumps negativity
You may not know it from your Facebook feed, but Berger and Milkman found that positive content and stories were far more likely to be shared and to go viral than negative news stories.
Are you surprised by this finding? Most people are. But the reason bad news sticks in our minds more than good news is because of our brain’s “negativity bias.” Human brains are wired to react with greater sensitivity to bad news and feedback than anything positive, and so you may see and hear a hundred pieces of positive news throughout your day but remember that one news story about a sick child. It also explains why you remember an insult or attack decades after all the compliments and accolades have been forgotten.
Yet, research shows that if you want your content to go viral and reach more people, it has more of a likelihood of doing so if it comes in a positive package.
How to create positive content
Try framing events in a positive context. Research shows that superlatives can be super effective in headlines. For example:
As Courtney explains in this post, Buffer’s focus on positivity and happinessmeans that we turn this technique inside out with posts such as 10 Things To Stop Doing Today to Be Happier, Backed by Science.
2. Content that evokes high arousal emotions does better
This is probably not quite as surprisingly, but Berger and Milkman found that the more a piece of content could evoke a high-arousal emotion such as awe, anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, humor, or wonder, the better its chances of being shared repeatedly and going viral.
That’s why counter-intuitive takes on issues do so well and why articles that make you angry are often the ones that you forward to friends.
In fact, this is backed up by our own research here at Buffer. In a recent experiment, we found that one of the key things that makes images go viral is an element of surprise.
In the NYT study, the articles that scored highly on different dimensions were:
Redefining Depression as Mere Sadness
When All Else Fails, Blaming the Patient Often Comes Next
Wide-Eyed New Arrivals Falling in Love with the City
Tony Award for Philanthropy
Web Rumors Tied to Korean Actress’s Suicide
Germany: Baby Polar Bear’s Feeder Dies
Rare Treatment Is Reported to Cure AIDS Patient
The Promise and Power of RNA
What Red Ink? Wall Street Paid Hefty Bonuses
Loan Titans Paid McCain Adviser Nearly $2 Million
For Stocks, Worst Single-Day Drop in Two Decades
Home Prices Seem Far From Bottom
Maimed on 9/11, Trying to Be Whole Again
Obama Pays Tribute to His Grandmother After She Dies
How to create emotional content
One of the driving forces for emotional content is someone’s first touch with your content: the headline.
There are some amazingly useful tools out there to help ensure your headline packs the right emotional punch.
CoSchedule Headline Analyzer – This fantastic tool will quickly tell you how to improve your headlines by scoring you on your word choices. It takes a look at the words in your headline and sorts them into four categories: common, uncommon, emotional, and power. The more emotional and power words, the better your headline.
Advanced Marketing Institute Headline Analyzer – This free tool analyzes your headlines to determine the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) score of your headline. The tool analyzes the total number of EMV words in relation to the total number of words in the headline and comes up with a score.
3. Practical and useful information wins out every time
Finally, no surprise to anyone who has read and shared our own content here at Buffer (thank you, by the way!), content that helps you solve a problem, gives you actionable tips, and shows you practical strategies for living your life is destined for success as long as it can meet the needs of a large number of people and do it in a unique and interesting way.
How to create practical, useful content
In her article Transforming Content From Lifeless to Actionable, blogger Amanda Gallucci offers the following tips on how to do this effectively. She writes:
Involve your audience: This might involve comments, surveys, or questions, but most importantly, referencing your audience in the content itself. Gallucci suggests creating interactive modules that readers can use within the content itself.
Link your research to applications: Research and numbers are great, but showing how users can apply that research to their lives or solving their problems can be a great way of providing value.
Look beyond your industry: When it comes to inspiration, don’t let your industry experts be the only thing that guides you towards creating useful content that is a match for your audience. If your business focuses on finances and numbers, considering learning from creative businesses, and vice versa.
State the intended outcome early on: Whenever you’re creating a piece of content, it’s always a good idea to state, right upfront, what the visitor or reader will get if he or she reaches the end of the article. Make a promise to your reader to teach or educate them, and then keep it.
Think ahead: One of the best things you can do for your content is to have an editorial calendar that guides your day-to-day content decisions and gives you the flexibility and room to comment on industry-specific events and anniversaries and give readers an analysis of any big news that comes up in your space.
So there you have it. Be positive, touch on some emotions, and be useful. The three keys to creating content that gets shared again and again. And again.
Over To You
I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with viral content. Have you ever had anything go massively viral? What did you learn from the experience?