Social media

Don’t ‘boost’!

Kate Potter writes…

Advertising on social media has become more popular as brands and organisations try to elbow their way through the increasing amount of content that is fighting for the attention of the online community.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) are encouraging businesses using their channels to put advertising dollars behind their posts to ensure they appear in the newsfeeds of their target audiences.

There’s a few different ways to do this – one of the easiest ways is to ‘boost’ a post – but I’m here to offer a counter argument: don’t boost!

When you publish a post that you’ve created for your social media community, there is inherently a level of knowledge that your community has about your brand, your product or your organisation. If they are already a “fan” of the page, they most likely have background information that provides context to your post.

However, if you are pushing your post out to people who aren’t already ‘fans’ of your page, they don’t have that knowledge and background information. And if you assume that they do, you will lose their attention – fast.

Back in 2011, ANZ launched an ad campaign that starred Simon Baker as his character from television show The Mentalist. To me, as someone who didn’t watch The Mentalist, the ad was seriously confusing – why is Simon Baker talking in an American accent? Why does he “know what I’m thinking”? It felt arrogant of ANZ to assume that I would have this background knowledge that would make their ad relevant to me. (And I wasn’t the only one – watch this YouTube parody and read the comments here and here.)

So many social media ads that appear on my Instagram feed and Facebook feed feel the same way. An ad promoting a photographer on Instagram is captioned only ‘💕’ while I’m thinking “Who are you? What do you do? Why should I hire you?” An ad promoting a blogger uses a selfie photo and is captioned “so bloody ready for a holiday!” while I sit there confused as to who this person is and why they are appearing on my feed. And it goes on and on – my feed is filled with ads every day that don’t provide context, don’t introduce me to the person or their product / service, and assume that my background knowledge will be there to make me want to find out more.

So, what do I suggest you do instead of ‘boosting’ your existing posts? Create social media ad campaigns – but create them from scratch. Use Facebook Ads Manager or Twitter Ads Manager and force yourself to consider a couple of key questions: what is the objective of my ad campaign? How am I going to introduce my product / service / event to people if they are hearing about it for the first time?

Using these tools also gives you greater control over your ad campaign delivery, compared with the tools available to you by ‘boosting’ or ‘promoting’ posts.

Make sure you run your social media ad campaigns with your eyes wide open (I often think of clicking the boost button on Facebook as a blind ‘spray and pray’ of your advertising message!) and don’t assume the social media audience will stop and try to figure out what you’re selling or promoting. We have short attention spans!


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