Paid Social Targeting: Winners and Losers

I’ve been working on a guide for paid social at work the past couple weeks – something we can use to illustrate how it works to achieve client objectives. As I’ve worked through the 3 major paid social channels, I’m realizing that there are winners and losers when it comes to paid social targeting.

Winner: Facebook

At gyro, our clients are all B2B. Many clients initially assume that Facebook won’t work for them, because of its broad appeal. But broad appeal is exactly why Facebook works.

When it comes right down to it, business decision makers are still people – people who probably check Facebook multiple times per day. People who are part of industry-related groups, and who like industry-related Facebook pages. There’s no reason not to use Facebook for B2B.

Facebook’s reach is huge – far bigger than any other social engine. Not only that, but CPCs are relatively low. Their B2B paid social targeting is greatly improved, so we can now target by employer, job title, and other B2B attributes.

When setting up Facebook ads, advertisers choose an objective. Facebook’s options cover every objective we could possibly want:

We don’t use product catalog sales or store visits often in B2B, but the other options are great. I can’t think of a single client whose objectives don’t fit into one of these buckets.

Not only has Facebook thought of every objective, but they optimize by objective. So if you’ve chosen traffic, Facebook will optimize your campaign for traffic. All your reports in the interface will focus on impressions, clicks, and CPC – the exact KPIs you’d want to see. If your objective is conversions, the KPIs will change to conversions, and Facebook will optimize for those. Manually managing bids isn’t necessary anymore – and I’d venture to say it’s counterproductive. I’ve seen better performance when I let Facebook optimize rather than trying to do it myself.

Facebook’s conversion tracking pixel is decent, too. It’s easy to install, and is flexible for different goals. It measures multiple steps in the process, too:

While I know that some advertisers have reported inaccuracies with the Facebook pixel, I’ve found it to be quite accurate for the clients we have using it.

An often-overlooked element of Facebook’s ad platform is their documentation and setup guide. I love this as a quick reference when planning Facebook campaigns, and to give to clients. There is a description of each ad type, along with specs and sample ads – great for taking screen shots! No other social platform comes close to a handy guide like this. Facebook’s other ad documentation is pretty good too, although I admit I’ve had trouble finding answers to my questions now and then.

Facebook ads can also appear on Instagram – another plus. If you have an Instagram page, you can show ads both there and on Facebook, all in one campaign. While Instagram volume is relatively small for B2B advertisers, it’s nice to be able to hit both platforms in the same campaign.

Losers: Twitter and LinkedIn (and everyone else)

Now that I’ve sung the praises of Facebook, it’s easy to conclude that the losers are, pretty much, everyone else. And Facebook is outpacing the other social engines in innovation. We mostly use Twitter and LinkedIn in addition to Facebook, so I’ll focus my “losers” category on them. Pinterest is a loser because the B2B applications are so slim – although Pinterest’s user base is growing, while Facebook’s is holding steady, meaning that Pinterest may become a bigger player at some point.

Thinking about Twitter and LinkedIn, though, they have such a long way to go. Twitter objectives aren’t bad.

If you go to LinkedIn and look for objectives, you’ll be looking for a long time – they don’t have them.

Ad unit options are limited – Twitter has 5 ad units, while LinkedIn only has 3 – and one of those 3 is Sponsored InMail, which really only makes sense for recruiters. And if you’ve ever tried LinkedIn sponsored ads, you know that performance is awful. The only viable option for LinkedIn for B2B is sponsored updates, and even those options are limited – you only get one type of ad unit.

Reach doesn’t come close to Facebook on LinkedIn, either. Most of our clients interested in social PPC come to us asking for LinkedIn, but find that Facebook offers more volume, more frequency, and significantly lower CPCs. I can’t tell you the last time I looked at my LinkedIn feed, but I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve checked Facebook just today.

Twitter has the opposite problem – their reach is too broad. Targeting options are so heavily skewed toward B2C that it’s hard to find good targeting for B2B, unless you’re targeting specific users. Keyword targeting is nearly useless, and will result in an audience of millions of people. And there’s no way to narrow targeting by saying “include these keywords AND these interests,” for example. It’s all “OR” targeting – what a nightmare. And if your Twitter targets use TweetDeck or other third party clients, ads are filtered anyway. I hope no one is trying to use paid social targeting to reach me on Twitter – I rarely see ads!

Twitter and LinkedIn don’t have automatic bid optimization, either. You still need to set bids. And it’s hard to know where to set them, since the ranges they suggest are often crazy – $15+ for LinkedIn, for example. And since few third parties offer bid management tools for paid social, you’re stuck with manual bid management.

Conversion tracking is downright awful. Both engines have a pixel, but I’ve yet to get Twitter’s pixel to work. We’ve actually paused Twitter campaigns because we can’t get conversion tracking to work. And LinkedIn’s pixel isn’t very flexible.

And if you’re looking for ad documentation, forget it. As I was working on my paid social guide, I tried to find examples of the different ad formats that I could take screen shots of. No luck – as far as I can tell, they don’t exist. I had to take screen shots of our client’s ads – which isn’t ideal, if we ever want to share the guide with prospects.

Am I saying that B2B advertisers should stick to Facebook and ignore Twitter and LinkedIn? Not at all. We’ve had great success with both channels for the right clients. But from a management standpoint, an ease-of-use standpoint, and a paid social targeting standpoint, Facebook wins hands down.

What about you? Have you found Facebook to be the big winner for paid social? Or do you prefer LinkedIn, Twitter, or something else? Share in the comments!

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Top 21 Women In Search Marketing to Follow on Twitter

It seems like every week someone comes out with “top” lists of people to follow on Twitter. I’ve seen top digital marketers and the smartest women on Twitter, but I haven’t seen a list of women search marketers that featured PPC pros.

With that, here are the top 21 women in search marketing to follow on Twitter.

Annie Cushing. Annie tweets about SEO, site audits, and super awesome Excel hacks.

Arianne Donoghue. Arianne is a UK-based PPC expert, smart and fun.

Christi Olson. Christi works for Bing Ads; tweets great live coverage of conferences and other PPC stuff.

Ginny Marvin. Ginny is the PPC writer for Search Engine Land. Follow her for the latest PPC news.

Pauline Jakober. Pauline runs the Group Twenty Seven agency and tweets a lot about B2B PPC.

Amy Hoffman Bishop. Amy works for Clix Marketing and has been around the PPC scene for a while. She tells it like it is.

Jennifer Slegg. Jen owns JenSense and is the founder and editor of The SEM Post. Find SEO and PPC news on her feed.

Katie Tonkin. Katie works for PointIt and has become a strong voice in the PPC community over the past few years.

Lisa Sanner. Lisa also works for PointIt, as the VP of Search Marketing. Follow Lisa for strategic PPC advice and tips on dealing with clients.

Maddie Cary. Maddie rounds out the PointIt troika. She tweets about PPC with a Beyonce twist.

Ann Handley. Ann is a content marketing and testing wizard.

Merry Morud. Merry works at aimClear and tweets about paid social. She can answer all your tough paid social questions.

Michelle Morgan. Michelle works for Clix Marketing and is a frequent poster to PPCChat.

Julie Friedman Bacchini.  Julie doesn’t pull any punches. She shares PPC knowledge and excellent blog posts on Twitter.

Meg Geddes. Meg’s been online longer than many PPC pros have been alive. Her Twitter feed is a mix of PPC, SEO, and sarcasm.

Kim Thomas. Kim shares lots of great PPC knowledge and conference coverage.

Purna Virji. Purna works for Bing Ads. She’s ever-positive and helpful on Twitter.

Kristine Schachinger. Kristine is an SEO who’s not afraid to call out bad practices.

Susan Wenograd. Susan shares a healthy mix of ecommerce, analytics, and other killer PPC tips.

Susan Waldes. Susan is president of Five Mill Inc. She tweets about PPC strategy, analytics, and more.

Mona Elesseily. Mona doesn’t tweet often, but when she does, you’d best listen. One of the long-time voices in the PPC industry.

I hope you’ve found some new people to follow on Twitter on this list! Did I miss anyone deserving? Share in the comments!

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Facebook PPC: Not Just For Teenagers

I often hear people say, “I don’t want to use Facebook ads because I don’t want to reach teenagers or college students. I want to reach 25-65 year old decision makers.”

5-10 years ago, teenagers were the primary audience on Facebook. Today, though, it’s a much different story – nearly everyone, even grandparents, has a Facebook account.

And Facebook Ads aren’t what they used to be either. I remember trying to guess what B2B decision makers’ interests were so I could try to target them on Facebook. Ads were designed to drive clicks or “likes” and that was it – not good for most business objectives.

Fast forward to 2015. As of this writing, Facebook has 10 different objectives you can use for your ads.

facebook targeting

These objectives cover nearly every goal you might have for your Facebook PPC campaign. Recently, I decided to put some of the objectives to the test. Here’s what I found.


I do social media on a volunteer basis for a local community band I’m in. We’ve used Facebook ads for a few years now to promote our big concert events. In the past, I’d just do a “boost post” or post engagement type of campaign. We got decent results, but this year I decided to try 3 different objectives: Event Responses, Post Engagement, and Website Clicks.

I created an event for the upcoming concert, and also wrote a Facebook post about it. We had a landing page with details about the concert on our band website, so I used that page for the website clicks campaign. The campaigns were geotargeted to Michigan, and I layered on interest targeting for those interested in community bands to fine-tune the audience.

I also decided to try letting Facebook set CPCs based on the objectives, rather than managing them manually. This was a big step for me – normally, I’m not a fan of letting the PPC engines control my bids, but I wanted to see what would happen.

We ran the ads for about 3 weeks prior to the event, and split our budget evenly across the 3 campaigns.


First, let’s look at the basics: impressions and clicks.

impressions & clicks

This is exciting on its own: nearly 32,000 people saw our ads, we got nearly 600 clicks, and a 1.80% CTR. For social PPC, that’s huge – I consider anything over 1% to be very good.

Remember, though, that a click in social PPC is usually a click on anything in the ad that can be clicked. For Facebook, that includes post likes, shares, comments, and link clicks. And we didn’t just want people to “like” the post – we wanted them to plan to come to the event!

Let’s look at some metrics that give a better indication of intent. Did each campaign achieve its objective?

I’d say the answer is yes. The event response campaign had 63 engagements, most of which were event responses. If all of those people came to the concert, the entire campaign would have been a success based on that alone.

The post engagement campaign had a whopping 178 engagements, and also generated 21 website clicks and 15 page likes. So it drove people to the website, even though that wasn’t the objective, and we also found more people who like the page and will see announcements for future concerts. Plus, hopefully some of the 178 who engaged with the post came to the concert too.

The website clicks campaign also did what it was supposed to. It drove 108 clicks to the site. If only a fraction of those people came to the concert, we’d be happy.

Put them all together and it adds up to a successful campaign in terms of user actions.

But how much did all this cost?


Now, you really can’t beat that. Less than $150 for 129 clicks to the site, 19 new likes and 50 event responses? What a deal! $0.26 per click is a bargain, too – it’s been a while since I’ve seen $0.26 CPCs in search.

The huge eye-opener here is that these were bids managed by the Facebook algorithm, not by my bid management prowess. I’m not sure I could have done any better, and I might have done worse. I was amazed to find that we got such great CPCs by letting Facebook do their thing. It took a lot less time to manage, and was highly successful.


The campaign was a rousing success – not only in the number of responses we got, but also what I learned from it. Part of the reason I tried the 3 different campaigns was to test how well they each worked. Sure, I’ve used Facebook PPC frequently for “official” client business, but usually with a defined objective – for example, the client wants to drive website clicks, so we choose that objective. I never tested multiple objectives side by side to see how they’d perform. I have to say, I’m really impressed.

Have you seen similar results from objective-based Facebook Ads campaigns? Did they deliver what they were supposed to at a great cost? Share in the comments!

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Social Media is BS

That’s right, I said it. Social media is BS. You might be asking yourself, “Why would she say something like that when she’s active on Twitter and probably gets most of her blog traffic from social media?”

Good question. It’s true that I get most of my traffic from social media. But when it comes to ROI, social media is BS.

I’ve been ruminating on this topic for a while. Back in December, Social Times ran a piece titled The Future of Social Commerce. I saw the post on – you guessed it – Twitter, and I was intrigued. I thought, “Finally! Someone is measuring the ROI of social media!”


Take a look at that post. Take a really close look at this part of the ridiculously humongous infographic:

social commerce infographic
OK, so I’ve editorialized here. But look at the circled text: they’re equating “having a presence” with driving sales. Really?

Back in the day, in another life, I did outside sales for traditional media. I can tell you right now that “having a presence” in a client’s place of business sure as heck did not equate ROI for me. Walking into a store or office won’t guarantee sales, and neither does “having a presence” in social media. People do not buy from you just because you’re there.

As for the comment “Meteoric rise of Pinterest demonstrates that Curation is the future of Social Commerce” – that’s just crazy talk. I’ll admit – Pinterest is cool, and I’ve seen several companies using it effectively. A few might even be making money from it. But because a bunch of scrapbookers and people with time on their hands have adopted Pinterest means it’s the “future of Social Commerce”? Give me a break.

I could go on and on. But what sparked me to finally write this post was a great post over at Search Engine Watch by Nathan Safran titled Can We Please Stop Hyping Social as the Marketing Messiah? Indeed. As of this writing, the post has garnered 55 comments. I don’t know how many comments the average SEW post gets, but as a regular contributor I can tell you that in 5 years of writing for them, I don’t think I’ve gotten 55 comments TOTAL. It’s a hot topic for sure.

Social media is also a nice shiny object. People are attracted to it because it’s new and exciting. But new and exciting doesn’t equal sales, either.

What do you think? Is social a bunch of hooey, or is it the future of commerce? Or something in between?

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More Great Marketers to Follow on Twitter

A couple of weeks ago, I published a list of the Top 10 PPC Experts to Follow On Twitter. Go check it out if you haven’t already!

Hot off the press today is an awesome list from my friends at aimClear of 52 Mind Blowing Marketers We’d Love to Clone and Adopt. The list runs the gamut from SEOs to PPCers to social media pros, and is basically a Who’s Who of online marketing. If you’re looking for new experts to follow on Twitter, go check out the aimClear list.

Disclaimer: I’m on the list, and am humbled by the inclusion. Thanks to Marty and crew for including me!

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The 3 Biggest Takeaways from SES New York

Yesterday, I returned home after a couple of days at SES New York. It had been years since I attended the East Coast version of SES – in fact, SES was my first search conference way back in 2003 in Boston, before they moved the show to New York. While I didn’t attend the whole show this year, I was there long enough to see a lot of friends and catch the buzz. So, here are my top 3 takeaways from the show.

1. The Bing announcement that wasn’t. The audience was buzzing about Thursday’s keynote by Yusuf Mehdi from Microsoft. Rumor had it that he was going to be making some big announcements about Bing. The room was packed, everyone waiting with baited breath. What were the big announcements? Maps. Lots of maps. Oh, and a partnership with Foursquare. Sorry, but this wasn’t news to me. I know a lot of people get into Foursquare, but I just don’t see the business value. In fact, I asked that question during the keynote: where is the business value in all of this? The answer? Businesses have more information about intent with these lovely features. I don’t know about you, but I won’t be rushing to Bing to put my clients’ ads on their Foursquare map.

2. Social media is where it’s at. There were entire tracks at SES New York on Social Media, and every session I attended was packed. People clearly want to learn about social media and how to make it work for them. I found, though, that most of the sessions were unfocused and didn’t stay on topic. For instance, the session on Social and the Marketing Mix was billed as a session on integrating social media with your other marketing – something that, in my opinion, is key to social media success. But the only speaker who talked about integration was Beth Harte. The other speakers talked about how to start a social media program, measuring results, claiming your name on social channels (hello??), and a bunch of other random things that had nothing to do with integration. That said, it’s obvious to me that social media is hot, hot, hot.

Side note: Call me old-fashioned, but I was really surprised at the number of snarky Tweets from the show. I’m sure some of them were deserved, but many just went beyond the pale – there was a series of tweets ridiculing someone for their outfit. I agree she looked, well, out of place – but this isn’t high school, this is a search conference. And tweeting about someone’s long nails on their laptop keyboard or the BO of the person in front of you isn’t really useful, either.

3. People still want and need to know the basics of PPC and SEO. I was shocked at how many people I *didn’t* know at this SES – in fact, the only people I recognized were the other speakers. (Quick detour: I remember being at SES Chicago about 5 years ago and accidentally sitting at lunch with a bunch of the speakers. I felt totally out of place and embarrassed. This time, it was the exact opposite – I ended up having lunch in the speaker room because there were no seats in the Grand Ballroom, and I didn’t know anyone there anyway. I don’t know if that means I’ve arrived, or if the audience has really changed. Anyway…) The Fundamentals sessions were very well attended. My good friend Matt Van Wagner told me that his Paid Search 101 session was packed. He started out with the real basics: what PPC is, how it works, etc. I asked him if that was too basic, and he said, “No. I told the audience to let me know if it was too basic, and they told me that it was just what they were looking for.” I had a similar experience in my Paid Search Site Clinic – several of the attendees weren’t even doing PPC yet – they wanted to know how to get started. Maybe this shouldn’t surprise me, but it does.

Well, there you have it – my 3 top takeaways from SES New York. I actually have a fourth: food poisoning. Yes, this makes the 3rd time I’ve come home from the East Coast with food poisoning – not sure what that’s all about…. Alas. What are your biggest takeaways from the show?

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Michigan State Spartans Logo – Social Media Fail?

If you’re a college sports fan, you’ve probably heard about the controversy over the leaked news that Michigan State was considering a new logo. Apparently, a fan found out about the possible change when the university filed with the US Trademark Office – and that’s when the proverbial poop hit the fan.

Spartan faithful took to social media channels, including Facebook, to voice their displeasure with the new logo. The fan page “The Old Spartan Logo” amassed over 60,000 fans, all protesting the change.

Late last week, the university caved to the pressure and announced they’d be keeping the existing logo.

I like the existing logo, and thought the proposed new one was ugly. But that’s not the point. The online marketer in me wonders whether the university could have handled this better.

Social media and crowdsourcing are powerful forces indeed. Many claim that Barack Obama won the US Presidential election on the back of social media, and that’s probably true, at least to some extent. But many also claim that John McCain lost the election due to his campaign’s failure to mobilize social media. Could Michigan State have experienced a similar social media fail?

I think they did. These days, news leaks like the new MSU logo are commonplace, and organizations need to be prepared. Instead of joining the conversation, MSU tried to ignore the problem, perhaps in hopes it would go away.

But, like a nasty virus, it didn’t. The university’s attempts to brush off the controversy by saying it was “too early” snowballed into MSU men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo going off on a 6 minute tirade on why fans should, in a word, shut the heck up.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Tom Izzo, and he’s done a boatload of good for the university’s image. But was he really the guy to speak up about the new logo? No. MSU’s official spokespeople should have joined the social media conversation and played up the potential change, explaining the reasons behind it. In brushing it under the rug, they broke one of the cardinal rules of social media: Don’t close your eyes to what’s going on around you. Join the conversation. Embrace it. As Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media says, “at the end of the day, it is he who is smart enough to act (and act quickly) that reaps the biggest reward.”

MSU neither was smart enough to act, nor acted quickly. In the end, they caved to fan pressure and decided to keep the new logo. But instead of getting involved and getting fans into the game, they chose to first ignore, and then condemn them.

And that, my friends, is a social media fail.

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