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Balancing Paid Social Media with Owned and Earned

I’d never deign to say that one type of digital marketing specialist is better or more important than another—they must work together to create a fully integrated, omnichannel strategy. But I do believe that social media professionals have a unique advantage over other more specialized digital marketing professionals. That’s because the nature of social media channels has forced them to work across owned, earned and paid campaigns. They must learn how to balance these various aspects to ensure the right mix of elements that reach customers at various stages in their paths to purchase, without ostracizing (or rather, annoying) those at other stages.

The earned and owned aspects of social media have been integrated for some time. It’s the paid pieces that are newer and growing, and need extra care to ensure the right balance among owned and earned media elements. Following are five tips for ensure balance across all types of social media.

Don’t Ostracize or Annoy

You don’t want to turn your fans off from your brand because you over serve ads to them or show the incorrect messaging to someone that is already a fan. Part of this can be done through targeting. But you can also show ads to specific users on Facebook and Twitter, not to your entire fan base.

Facebook does this through Unpublished Post Ads (lately I’ve been hearing them called “dark posts” which is appealingly ominous and I need to start using it!) can be created through Power Editor. They have all the same features, targeting and functionality of regular page posts, except that they do not appear on your page’s timeline nor show in fans newsfeeds (unless they match the targeting parameters of the ad, of course).

Twitter doesn’t necessarily have a name for their dark ads, but they do allow advertisers to run promoted tweets targeted at a specific audience and not all followers. This ensures you aren’t spamming followings, but allows you to test multiple messages, CTAs, links, landing pages, etc.

Lead Users Through Their Purchase Journey

Set up campaigns so that you first draw in new users through specific ad types and messages, and then use different messaging as they become more familiar with your brand and offering.

For example, you could create a custom audience of all customers, and target any that aren’t yet fans of your page with Page Like ads. After they are fans and become more connected and familiar with your brand through organic posts, you can target this custom audience with product or promotional messages.  

Or, if you’d like to reconnect with lapsed customers, you can pull a list of customers that have not purchased in the past year, and create a custom audience on Facebook from this list. Then you can target these users with “We miss you!” messaging and a special offer to get them to come back and make another purchase.

Recognize the Differences Between Media

Owned and earned media are longer-term strategies and you cannot expect results (i.e., sales) to be direct. But paid media, even on social channels, is more immediate. Maybe not as immediate as paid search, but still Facebook ads, promoted tweets or promoted pins driving traffic to product pages can and do generate sales.

Recognizing and accepting these differences, structuring your campaigns and efforts to leverage the various aspects and setting expectations for your organization based on these nuances is exceedingly important to your success.

Measure Results Separately

Because the media are different, it’s important to measure their performance separately. You can’t look at posts meant to generate engagement and build relationships in the same way as ads meant to drive sales. The objectives are completely different, and so too should be how you define success.

But Compare Metrics Across Efforts

With that said, customers don’t see your social efforts as ads versus posts—they don’t delineate their understanding of your brand between various stages in their journey or different marketing teams. Therefore, after you have evaluated metrics separately, you need to take a few steps back and look at the entire ecosystem to get a true sense of how all social media and efforts work together to grow awareness, build and maintain relationships and drive sales.

How do you balance owned, earned and shared media across your social efforts and channels? Share your thoughts on Interstellar’s Facebook, Twitter or Google+ profiles.