August 18, 2023

How to Prioritize Paid Social Platforms: A Checklist

Nick Schenck

Brands often grapple with where to invest their budget on paid social.

There are obvious choices (Meta and YouTube) due to their scale. But beyond that, which criteria can brands use to determine where to maximize their ad dollars? 

Once you set your campaign goals, identify your target audience(s), and define what success looks like (i.e. the metrics you care about), we recommend brands keep in mind the following considerations.

Know Your Target Audience

Focus On Your Community
Where does your audience spend the most time online? The common sense approach is to prioritize channels where your customers already are. Also, users who see your ad will often visit your page, and if your page is inactive, it diminishes the impact of your ad(s).

Competitive Landscape
Pay attention to where your competition is advertising. This could be an indicator that your customers are responding on that channel. Just come up with your own creative playbook.

Audience Size Matters
Scale is important. In general, the smaller the audience size, the more expensive the CPMs. For each ad platform that you’re considering, estimate the size of the audience that you’re trying to reach. You may have big ambitions for conversions, but the math may not work out.

Consider Data

Reverse Engineer Your Funnel
Understand benchmark CPMs and CPCs for each ad platform that you’re considering, and then reverse engineer your conversion funnel to see if your target CAC or target ROAS is attainable based on the inputs. Simple back-of-the-napkin math can point you in the right direction.

Bandwidth and Attribution
Each platform has different attribution methodologies. Learn about how each platform takes credit for conversions, and decide if you trust their approach and the data they report. Also, be sure you have the internal capabilities and bandwidth to measure conversions accurately.

Evaluate Network Referrals
Compare the traffic that your site receives from each social network that you’re considering. What is the volume of users? What is their engagement? Are they converting? Prioritize the channel where you’re seeing the most traction organically.

Assess Platform Features

Direct Response vs. Brand Marketing
Growing awareness for your brand is different from generating immediate sales. A brand campaign is higher in the funnel than a direct response campaign, and they should be measured differently. Some ad platforms are tailored for brand campaigns, and others are better optimized for direct response. Know the difference.

Ad Platform Synergy
No ad campaign exists in a vacuum. There’s often a relationship between discovery and search platforms, such as YouTube and Google. If you understand these correlations and recognize the compounding effect of advertising on certain ad channels in combination, it can inform your decision-making. 

Evaluate Creative Options

Creative Capabilities
Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Take inventory of your content, and prioritize the platform(s) where your content fits the ad placements. For instance, if you don’t have the resources to create TikTok-native content, don’t prioritize that channel.

The Message Must Fit The Medium
People use social media for specific purposes. LinkedIn is for professional networking. People expect to see career content. Meanwhile, Reddit is a largely text-based, community-focused social network. Long headlines do well because Redditers want more information. Make sure your brand fits well with the social network. This will improve your performance and lead quality.

Need help with your paid social strategy? Reach out to us at [email protected] for a consultation.