Taking a search marketer’s approach to paid social

The first point to make is that much of the new found power of social media in targeting new customers comes from the impressive range of qualifiers available to advertisers.

This doesn’t stop at the tangible – information such as purchasing behaviour, net worth and job titles – which Facebook gathers from its data broker partners, but includes psychographic targeting, too.

Knowing that everyone who sees your ad has a professed interest in ‘carp fishing’ is undoubtedly a game-changer for retailers of heavy-feeder fishing rods… for example.


Building up layers of targeting with social ads, including psychographics, is a skill that requires an understanding of language that should come naturally to the search specialist.

One such tactic is the use of exclusions – marketers can take their negative keywords from AdWords campaigns and “see how they parse” in the Facebook ads targeting tool.

Marty illustrated this with a powerful example. Say an advertiser is selling island real estate, they can target by income, geography, interest in ‘real estate’ etc. – but equally as important is to exclude interests that paint a different picture.

So, excluding interests such as ‘free online games’, ‘getting free food’ etc. might be a good way of qualifying out those who may not be as appropriate.

Persona interests are still described with words in Facebook – keyword analysis is still a necessary skill for creating segments in social advertising.

Lookalike modelling from the bottom of the funnel

Lookalike modelling is a powerful feature of Custom Audiences in Facebook, finding potential customers that match your audience profile.

This can be done from a list of known customers or by placing a pixel on your website to create a Website Customer Audience.

Rather than placing this pixel on a landing page which your audience is hitting from search, Marty pointed out that this pixel can be place right at the bottom of the funnel, on a ‘thank you’ page.

If you have enough traffic to do this, you can target people who match your converted customers. 


Influencer marketing via Facebook

The traditional view of search and social is of building backlinks through online PR (using social media).

But with paid social, targeting can make this approach much more efficient, allowing marketers to aim their content at specific sets of unknown influencers.

For example, Marty suggested three types of segments:

  • Targeting influencer job titles e.g. content producer, columnist, journalist, editor etc.
  • Finding prolific sharers by targeting people who are interested in relevant shareable media e.g. BuzzFeed, Oatmeal etc.
  • Targeting bloggers by specifying an interest in Yoast, WordPress etc. and narrowing down by targeting workplaces (e.g. the New York Times).

Of course, there’s a word of caution here – targeting is inherently more expensive than going broad with PR, and you can get too specific with your targeting, which may ultimately yield nothing.

Search retargeting of social audiences

Build a cookie pool using Facebook’s impressive targeting, then use Retargeting Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) from Google to find this audience in search.

This allows marketers to bid on competitive search terms efficiently, because the socially curated list should convert well.


Retargeting with ‘vertical content’ 

Marty Weintraub put it very succintly at SAScon, he said the ‘last mile’ of targeting is “vertical creative with psychographic targeting”.

Why serve generic content when you know exactly who you are targeting?

Retargeting website visitors on social is the perfect example – marketers should use their knowledge of the customer’s behaviour on site to serve truly relevant ads.

So, rather than a generic ‘Buy flights’ piece of creative, British Airways could offer ‘Hello [Name] – looking for a flight to Heathrow?’

Marty showed Airbnb doing this well, using his destination search term in display retargeting (‘Hayward – you belong here’).

It’s also the case that post-click tactics shouldn’t be generalised either – much as in search advertising, the landing page has to match the search term.

Report on blended results

Use blended results of your search and social campaigns where the same audiences are being targeted. It’s total actions that count.

In Marty’s words, “What’s the cost of social? Nothing – I’m buying clicks and everything else is free.”

Solve the interdepartmental cluster eff

There’s a last word for how the organisation must evolve to allow these data and tactical collaborations. SEO, social, CRM – they must all talk to each other.

Otherwise, the result is expensive content amplification that leads to bounces.