The power of content

If there's one thing I've learned since I started using social media, it's that I can no longer keep secrets. Just the other week I was doing some online Christmas shopping, feeling extremely proud that I'd started before December 24th. Hours later, while scrolling through my Facebook news feed, what do you think popped up? You guessed it, the exact jumper I had ordered for my friend. I wouldn't normally mind, but it just so happened that my friend was sitting next to me at the time. This frustrating event was the workings of social media advertising, a route that many businesses are taking to promote digital content and bring in consumers. But, what if I told you these results could be achieved without spending a penny?

By Jessica Phillips

One of the main reasons businesses are attracted to paid-for social media advertising is its ability to target specific audiences. Amongst others, it allows you to target people based on geographic location, job title and interests. It's also a great way to get people to interact, whether it’s clicking through to a piece of content, a product page or being part of a data capture.

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have no minimum spend, so even a relatively small budget will get you some advertising. However, whether you get the results you expected is another matter altogether.

Before jumping into a costly advertising campaign, you may want to consider alternatives. One way for companies to generate interest in their products and services is through original and non-promotional social media content and organic follower growth. Putting time aside to conduct a small amount of research on the type of accounts you should be targeting has certainly worked for our clients and us and is a much cheaper and more effective alternative to social media advertising, especially in the B2B environment.

For example, social media growth and management software, Tweepi allows Twitter users to replicate relevant users' followers, ensuring a tailored approach to follower growth. For example, if a local theatre wanted to target theatre enthusiasts from the same geographic location, cloning another local theatre's Twitter followers would be an effective tactic. Tweepi also allows users to filter followers based on location, bio information and key words.

Social media channels are starting to restrict the amount of users that your messages can reach, which leaves many turning to paid-for advertising. However, simply tailoring your use of hashtags to suit your target audience can counteract these restrictions. For example, if you want to target local businesses, look out for your region's business hour on Twitter. Alternatively, check out the hashtags your most successful competitors are using. This should give you an idea of which hashtags and topics your target audience are paying attention to.

Finally, consider the timing of your posts. If you're targeting businesses, one of the best time to schedule posts is between midday and 2pm. Either side of this timeslot, the majority of employees will be working and are unlikely to check their social media feeds. Also, if you're targeting an international audience, consider the time difference. If the majority of your audience is based in North America, there's no use scheduling posts for 10am GMT.

Ensuring that your message reaches its target audience doesn't have to be costly. With Christmas a matter of weeks away, wouldn't it be nice to save a few pounds? You could even use the money you save to buy a bigger bottle of Baileys or an extra tin of Quality Street for the family.

Jessica Phillips

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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