5 crucial questions to ask when creating paid social campaigns

Xavier Klein, Head of Performance

Going live with a paid social campaign is the easy part. Planning it and setting it up is the tricky part. It is easy to design a campaign that will fail to deliver the impactful results that will help your business grow.

Ahead of clicking that ‘Go Live’ button on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc, there are five very important questions you need to ask yourself. If you don’t, you will end up wasting your time, your media budget, and more importantly, you might be missing out on opportunities to develop your brand and/or generate sales and drive revenue.

1. What is your business objective?

Clients often get lost in the multitude of metrics, campaign objectives, audience types, bidding options, ad formats and more that are available for paid social campaigns. They lose sight of the most important question: what are you trying to achieve as a business?

Generating views on your latest video, or clicks to your site is one thing but does that translate into actual business results?

Keep in mind your business objective and translate that into a marketing objective and subsequently into an advertising objective. If you can’t make sure those campaigns help your business grow, is it even worth running them?

And focus on one single objective. You cannot give your agency 2 or 3 objectives. It’s better and easier to do one thing amazingly rather than 2 things kind of okay.

2. Is your content made for social?

Even with the best strategy and all the money in the world, with bad creative will come bad results. When you think about Paid Social assets, you cannot just repurpose display banners or TV ads and expect strong performance.

In order to earn great results, you need to design your content with the platform and placement in mind. Every ad placement and format come with different specifications and best practices. Your ad needs to look and feel like organic content otherwise it will not resonate with your audience and not drive good results.

Video ads on Facebook have to be as long as they need to be and as short as they can be. Facebook research shows that the attention span of a user on a mobile device is low: on average, in the newsfeed, users will spend 1.7 seconds on a piece of content. So if you’re just looking to drive Brand Awareness, think about a 3-5-second video ad, maximum 10 seconds, square or vertical, fast pacing, with subtitles if needed, and most of all, with your branding up front in the first 1 or 2 seconds.

When running ads on Facebook using the auto-placement (desktop/mobile) feature, 90%+ of your impressions will go to mobile (not to mention the likes of Snapchat or TikTok who are 100% mobile apps). This is how your audience is connecting to most of the social platforms so this is where the algorithm will deliver your impressions. With that in mind, when creating ad content, make sure to double check what it looks like on a mobile device:

  • Is the product big enough?
  • Are you taking advantage of the full vertical screen?
  • Is your video too slow?
  • Can you read the text/caption?

All of those questions are vital to ask. Remember, bad creative will generate bad results. And if you are unsure of what will work, you have to test different versions.

Level up your mobile ad creative

Read the one-stop guide to creating more effective digital ads.

3. Have you got a Test and Learn (T&L) framework in place?

A/B testing is absolutely essential in order to maximise the learnings you get. You might think you know what will work but you might be surprised by what actually does and to which audience.

You should have in place tests for several components/variables of your campaigns: objective, bidding, placement, targeting, formats, ads (copy, asset – static image, cinemagraph, video – headline etc).

Facebook makes it really simple for you to A/B test components of your campaigns with their Split Test tool. You can create clear tests without audience overlap and get conclusive results. The variables you can test are:

  • Creative
  • Audience
  • Delivery Optimization
  • Placements
  • Product Sets

Another useful feature is Facebook Dynamic Creative. At the ad level, you can choose from up to 10 images or videos and 5 of each text assets: body text, title, description and Call to Action (CTA). The algorithm will then test different combinations and optimise towards the best combination based on your campaign objective. This feature is available for Conversion, Traffic, Video Views, Reach, Brand Awareness, and App Install campaigns.

To conclude, test, test and test! Create a testing framework of what you want to test, when and how you will apply the learnings. Usually, a framework with a detailed timeline on an Excel works wonders.

Level up your A/B testing program

Read the one-stop guide to testing your way to greater ROAS.

4. Do you have the relevant tracking in place?

Don’t set your campaign live if you don’t have the right tracking in place. Being able to measure your campaign is key. At a minimum, make sure you have a Facebook Pixel in place, as well as any other 3rd party tracking you might require. Make sure the tracking you have in place is working correctly with the Facebook Pixel Helper Chrome Extension. 

If you’re running an App Install campaign, you need the Facebook SDK (Software Developer Kit) to track App Installs. You can also create Custom Conversions afterwards within Ads Manager to track In-App activities like New Registration or New Deposit.

Alternatively, if you are running across multiple channels with sizeable budgets, you should look at investing in a mobile measurement partner, or MMP. This will allow you to unify your campaign data from across your media mix for a more holistic view of your performance.

But whatever sort of activities you’re running, brand or DR, I also really recommend you install the Facebook Pixel on all the pages of your website so you can get insights on your visitors and above all, create remarketing audiences. You will be able to create Custom Audiences that will be very valuable if you then plan on running re-engaging campaigns to reach people who have already visited your website.

5. How are you going to use the insights from the results?

Testing and learning just for the sake of it is not enough, you need to know how you will use what you learn now in future campaigns. You need to plan medium and long-term strategies in order to make the most of your campaigns.

Make sure to look back at previous campaigns when planning the next ones. Make sure to check not only the main KPIs of your campaigns but also the additional “softer” metrics at your disposal (i.e. CPM, CTR, etc).

For instance, if you’re running campaigns targeting both genders and all ages, be sure to see how your CPM or Cost per Lead or Conversion Rate is for your male versus your female audience, as well as per age bracket. You might find that older men do not watch your videos or that middle aged women don’t click on your carousel ad. In those cases, make sure not to spend more advertising money on those target groups as the Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) isn’t worth it.

All of the points above are key for you to make the most of your campaigns. Think ahead, track everything, put in place all that’s needed for you to generate actionable learnings and insights because if you do, even a seemingly unsuccessful campaign from your main KPI point of view might help you discover something that will help future activities.

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