Test Marketing Campaigns with Paid Social Media

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Written by Heather Buen 

Are you trying to gain the attention of a company or brand on social media? Would you like to create a working relationship that involves paid advertising or services? Would you like to transition from just a blogger or content developer to a marketing partner? You can do all of this when you have a proven portfolio of brands and companies you have worked with. What happens if you don’t have that kind of reputation or you are new to blogging? What can you do to set yourself apart?

Many bloggers are hesitant to take a chance on paying for social media promotions or ads and for good reason. It can be very scary to put a credit card out there, make an investment and then not to gain any traffic or see a return on their investment. I actually run paid social media campaigns that last 1 to 5 days and I typically do that for all of the reasons I mentioned earlier. Most brands and companies looking for a relationship with bloggers want to see a return on their investment especially if they buy advertising or sponsor posts on your blog. You can differentiate your blog from others if you can really engage with the brand, find a way to connect the brand to your audience, develop buzz marketing campaigns and provide evidence and analytics of those campaigns. This offers up a lot of advantages to those bloggers that are trying to promote themselves to brands and companies. Paid social media test marketing campaigns can really pay off for you regardless of the size of your audience.

Paid social media campaigns can start for as little as $5

You can start a promoted post campaign on Facebook for as little as $5 even though I would recommend spending more than that to gain traction. Most test campaigns can bring about great results if you spend $50 or less. When you decide to promote a post on Facebook, promote a Twitter ad or develop a promoted Pinterest pin, you can easily set a daily budget, create an ad that links to your blog post about the brand and drive traffic to your site and the brand or company. You control the marketing campaign and so you also control the analytics. The key to providing proof of your ability to engage with the brand is to provide the analytics. Each social media platform has their own analytics and your site should also utilize Google Analytics so you can see how the post did without the help of paid social media and then how the post did with the paid social media. I will provide a case study of one of my promotions as an example.

The benefits of a paid social media test marketing campaign

There are many benefits to doing this. You get hands-on training to understanding how each platform operates promoted posts, you can identify what content is popular with your audience, you can build a strong relationship with the brand and it can lead to paid social media or blog campaigns with you and the brand. Your analytics helps you understand how engaged your audience is with your content such as how long they stay on your page, where do they go from your post and identify other content your audience may be interested in. This kind of content is valuable to brands. When you provide this kind of analytics you are providing value to the brand as your reader audience could be their future customers. This also helps to build and cement relationships with the brand and the information you gather from conducting your own test marketing campaigns can be used to market your site to other brands.

Social Media Test Marketing Campaign Case Study: Corner Bakery Grand Opening in Denton

Corner Bakery is one of my favorite places to eat and get a cup of coffee. A press release was sent to me about a new store opening in Denton and I decided to try out a promoted Twitter ad test campaign. I had never done a promoted Twitter ad before and I wanted the experience. Corner Bakery did not pay me at all for this but I thought it was a great opportunity to get my name out to another city in North Texas. All the traffic from my efforts directed back to my event post about the grand opening and I chose to create three campaigns over the course of 48 hours with a total spend of $20.

A good promoted post should consist of the following elements:

  •       Promote a contest, sale or discount
  •       Promote something new
  •       Drive traffic
  •       Have a call to action

Promoted posts are considered a success if you can drive engagement up by over 1%. Engagement could be anything from a share, a comment, signing up for an email newsletter, coming to the store etc.

For the Denton Grand Opening, Corner Bakery was also giving away a mug to the first 100 people standing in line that qualified them to get free coffee for a year.

When creating the ad I did three Twitter ads – 2 with an image and one without an image but with the message about the free mug. I specifically targeted individuals that lived within a 30 mile radius of the store via zip code.

twitter_details (1)

In the image above you can see the statistics for the promoted tweet and the number of impressions. Promoted means engagement or traffic that was paid for and organic is natural search. For this one ad, it garnered 81 clicks that were paid for clicks and 21 that were organic. The engagement rate for this ad was 3.4%. For the overall campaign the average engagement rate was 7.6%, well above the minimum 1% rate that you would consider for a success.

This graph below shows what non-paid traffic looked like for other days of the week versus the days that were paid. Organic impressions from my own social media account grew by 297% day 1 of the promoted posts.

Results of the campaign resulted in driving 9,000 impressions for that two day period, a 297% increase in impressions and traffic to that calendar listing on the blog included 3,947 views in that two day period. I would consider this campaign more of a success. Corner Bakery had a line waiting at their door as early as 5am for a 7am opening and the first 100 mugs were gone in 30 minutes. Since that time I have worked well with Corner Bakery and I’m part of their weekly Twitter parties every Monday at 11 am central. They have become a great brand partner for me. This same case study I use in my portfolio with other brands to show that I’m not just a blogger but also a marketer. This allows me to charge companies way above the market rate for buzz campaigns, sponsored posts and advertising. For spending just $20 you can turn around and market yourself to companies and charge anywhere in the hundreds or thousands depending upon your reach and the campaign.

Donate in kind services and provide free marketing to a favorite charity

I have also used this method with charities that I support through something called donation of in kind services. I provide publicity for free and that is my donation. If you can’t provide money or volunteer hours, then elect to provide free publicity and create a campaign of your own. I provided free blog posts and email marketing to my list subscribers about a charity I support called Vogel Alcove and a fundraising event called North Texas Giving Day. The charity, Vogel Alcove provides early childhood education programs to children from infants to 5 years old that are living in homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters and transitional housing at about 21 of the DFW area shelters. None of the posts I did for the local charity were paid for posts but I was able to use the analytics to promote my reach and help them in their donation efforts. Through my promotional efforts we reached a twitter audience of 150,000 and helped to raise $28,092 in one day from 121 donations.

Evidence and analytics makes for good partners

In a perfect world, we think we can just build our websites and they will come. That isn’t always the case. Using analytics, your creativity and having a portfolio of evidence gives you the tools to turn any blogger into a real brand partner. The partnership extends to other things and I’m glad that I take a chance and do a small investment because it repays itself tremendously over time. You can perform test campaigns via email, do a/b testing on your website or test out paid for posts on your social media accounts. Get started today and turn yourself from blogger into a real brand influencer.


About the Author: Heather Buen is a Dallas based “Creative Online Innovator” and a local Dallas celebrity blogger at her blog, Dallas Single Mom and a host of other lifestyle blog brands. Heather provides marketing consulting to small businesses and teaches web marketing and analytics at the University of Texas at Arlington. This mom of three is also a freelance journalist and web content developer.

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