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Increase your ROI with social advertising


Paying for visibility might not seem attractive when you know that so many social-media tools are free, but for important campaigns businesses can’t, and shouldn’t, rely solely on news-feed posting.

The Facebook algorithm has been reducing the organic reach of business content for a while. What’s more, the platform is now cracking down on overtly promotional material, like demoting sales-led posts in news feeds, as part of plans to make content more relevant to users. In our opinion, using the news feed to broadcast promotions isn’t the best use of this tactic anyway.

This is where paid advertising comes in, as an appropriate and surer way of reaching your audience when needed. And, best of all, it doesn’t cost as much as you might think.

Which social channels to use?

The leaders in the social paid advertising field are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. To decide which is best for your business, you must consider the main opportunities of each; as well as your target demographic. For example, Facebook is the most popular among the general public, allowing for segmentation; while LinkedIn appeals more to business users.


Offers different advertising categories based on your objectives – e.g. more page likes, page engagement levels, website visits, sign-ups to your email database, voucher downloads, etc.

Advertisements can be placed in the news feeds of both mobile and desktop versions of Facebook, with the right-hand column also available for desktop viewing.

You can target your audience based on factors like location, age, interests and gender.

Strong imagery is vital to entice and engage users.

Depending on your strategy, you can choose whether to pay per click (PPC) or pay per thousand impressions – and the bigger your budget, the more exposure your ads will enjoy.


Offers three main types of advertisements – which, like Facebook, are dependent on your objectives.

Promoted tweets will appear directly in Twitter timelines at specific times, for specific types of user.

You can also promote trends, which will appear in the left column of timelines for 24 hours, promoting your story and encouraging searches for your own hashtags and keywords.

You can target your audience based on factors like location, age, interests and gender.

The process is a bidding system, as you set your budget for specific user actions – like retweets or website visits – and your ads will run until your budget has been spent. This makes it easy to keep control of costs.


Effective for business-to-business (B2B) marketing and job-specific advertising, as you can target employees or companies based on factors like industry, job roles or business size.

There are three main options for types of advertisement:

Display ads, which are shown to your target audience.

Email marketing, which delivers content to users.

Direct sponsored updates, which appear in the timelines of your target users.

Like Facebook, you can select whether to pay for clicks or impressions – and you can also set daily budgets and bids.

Case studies: Toby Carvery – Facebook boosted posts


Campaign: Introductory offer of two courses for £6.50, when signing up for the outlet’s regular email newsletter.

Objective: Raise awareness and increase sign-ups to the email database.

Budget: £25 over five days.

Targeting: People residing within a five-mile radius of the restaurant.


69,663 people reached

5,472 clicks (at 6p per click), with a click-through rate of 5.14%

1,239 sign-ups to the email database (at 28p each)

2,886 website clicks

530 ‘likes’ for the post, plus 160 ‘shares’

186 page ‘likes’


Campaign: Video competition celebrating the brand’s 30th birthday, entitled ‘Why I Love Toby’. To promote it, we posted user-generated content – a humorous video submitted by an entrant – which naturally appealed to fellow Toby fans and their friends.

Objective: To drive traffic to the competition by encouraging users to engage with the video post, thus extending the campaign’s reach.

Budget: £100 over five days, at a budget of £20 per day.


35,783 clicks on advertisements, with a click-through rate of 11.46%

58,695 clicks to play the video

536 ‘likes’ for the post, plus 113 comments

51 more page ‘likes’

53 website visits

What’s the best way to use social advertising?

Paid advertising via social media is ideal for promoting new openings – for example, a new retail or hospitality outlet in an existing chain – or any special offers or new products you want to push. In many cases, it’s likely you’ll want to target a new audience, so you need your reach to extend further than usual.

For example, if you’re opening a new pizza restaurant in an area where you don’t have an existing presence, you need to appeal to potential diners locally. Social media adverts can be targeted to specific geographical areasand people living there who match your target demographic – i.e. people who already visit alternative pizza venues, or have expressed a love of the food on via their personal profile.

ALWAYS consider mobile users

Mobile devices are becoming increasingly important in the digital world. In line with this trend, our recent marketing campaign results have shown that mobile users are far more active in response to paid advertising than desktop computer users – so you really, really can’t afford to ignore them.

For example, our boosted Facebook post for Toby Carvery attained a reach of 272,264 people via mobile news feeds, compared with 2,838 via desktop. Furthermore, 29,264 mobile users took some form of action – such as clicking on the link or reading more – compared with only 49 via desktop.

And the strong mobile statistics just keep on coming. In the third quarter of 2014, 66% of Facebook’s £1.68bn (£2.6bn) advertising revenue came from mobile ads; while Twitter’s rate was even higher, with 85% of its £206m ($320m) coming from mobile.

It’s therefore vital to make sure your ads are targeted towards mobile users, which means careful consideration of the presentation of each one. Images and written content should be easy to read on mobile devices, with a clear user journey.

Social advertising essentials

Here are CE’s top tips for successful social-media promotions…

Pay close attention to exactly what your brand wants to achieve – and select an advertising option to suit.

Keep your adverts local and highly relevant to your target market.

Consider demographic factors such as interests, gender and age.

Create a landing page on your website to ‘catch’ users who’ve clicked on your ads – and consider the customer journey you’re taking them on. They may be completely new to your brand. Any calls-to-action should be clear and concise.

Test different approaches to see which are most effective and engaging. For example, try two different ideas on a limited basis and see which works best, then roll it out more widely.

If you’re running a long-term campaign, change your adverts frequently so they don’t get boring and repetitive. You can rotate them every few days.

Make sure your ads are suitably formatted for mobile viewing.

Turn passive followers into advocates – use strong, genuinely appealing offers to drive engagement, footfall and spend.

Can we help you get better results via social media? Ask us about driving brand loyalty and creating an impressive return on investment.

Take a look at our eguide for more information

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