Sunday, July 26, 2009

5 Ways to Reach Social Media Audiences via Paid Search SEM/PPC and Sponsorship Tactics

Integrating Paid Search (PPC) and Social Media

One of the key challenges with social media is figuring out how to measure success and how to tie pricing to performance. SEM (PPC) advertisers have already figured this piece out, and by combining the best of PPC SEM pricing and keyword-level targeting, it's only natural that SEM (Paid Search, PPC) managers can help bridge the gap between search and social media.

If you are an SEM (PPC, paid search) manager, here are 5 mostly keyword-targeted ways to potentially help clients reach their target markets within the social media landscape. If you're a social media director, you should understand how these services work and how they can aide your community-building efforts. And if you're a marketing director, you can use this list as a conversation starter with your partner agency(ies).

Note: Advertising spam is a major issue, especially on Twitter. There are many services that do not seem to have any regard for the community-aspect of the social media landscape, and the opportunities below are focused on adding value to the community through advertising. However, please note that these are new and thus relatively un-tested tactics. As with any new opportunity, you should carefully evaluate the partner before embarking on a new campaign.

Twitter Sparq - Cost Per Tweet; and potentially Cost Per Click

As Saul Hansell of the The New York Times writes..."...Twitter Sparq places ads on some Twitter applications, including PowerTwitter (a Firefox plugin) and TwitterFon (an iPhone application). Twitter Sparq is designed to be an automated auction of text ads, much like Google’s AdWords. But while ads on Google relate to what you are searching for, Twitter Sparq ads are shown to people based on 'the list of historical keywords that the user has tweeted in the past,' the company’s site explains. " Just as interesting as the targeting method is the format of the ads themselves. There is a headline and a bit of text, as in a Google ad. But under it are two links, “Tweet now” and “learn more.” The later link jumps to the advertiser’s Web site. The former creates a draft tweet that the user can edit and send to his or her followers. Advertiser can fish for compliments, ask questions related to how their products are used, or even encourage people to criticize rivals."

Target by: keywords that a user has tweeted in the past
Pricing Model: Auction-based Cost Per Tweet, though TwitterSparq is also exlporing a cost per click (CPC) pricing model
  • the number of times your Sparq prompt appears to a user
  • the # of clicks to tweet
  • # of successful tweets
  • the average reach of these messages
  • # of retweets
  • the number of click-throughs to landing URL

Reach: not directly available, but Twitterfon (one of the places where Twitter Sparq ads can appear) has been downloaded over 1 million times and reports over 200,000 daily users; and the PowerTwitter Firefox Add-on has been downloaded over 200,000 times

TwitterHawk - Cost Per Tweet

"TwitterHawk is a real time targeted marketing engine that will find people talking on twitter now by your chosen topic and location, allowing you to really hit your target mid conversation with ease." (From TwitterHawk's site). Basically, you enter in your target keywords and when TwitterHawk searches Twitter and finds Tweets containing your keywords, you are able to reply back to those users with a relevant message (tweet). This could be perceived as spam, so extra care must be taken. Here's an interesting video of Jeff Ferguson, Director of Online Marketing for Napster, talking about his experience with TwitterHawk, and how he handled a user who initially perceived his campaign as spam.

Target by: Keywords (within tweets)
Pricing Model: Cost Per Tweet (Max: $.05)

  • Clicks
  • Cost Per Click (CPC) - the site claims an average of $.02 actual CPC
Reach: Potentially over 20 million (# of unique Twitter visitors; ComScore -June 2009). NOTE: in order to avoid being perceived as spam, TwitterHawk limits the number of tweets you can send out to 1 per hour.

TweetBeep - Sponsorships

Think Google Alerts for Twitter. You input keywords and TweetBeep will send you emails throughout the day when your keywords appear in Tweets. 100 character text ads and an optional 50x50 or 100x50 image appear within the email alerts.
Target by: (I'm hoping to interview Michael Jensen regarding keyword-targeting options; though I do not believe this is available yet.)
Pricing Model: Daily, Weekly, Monthly Sponsorships (e.g. $49/day for one of up to 6 spots in the advertising rotation)
Reach: Over 24,000 Twitter users receiving over 60,000 email alerts per day

Facebook Social Ads - Cost Per Click, Cost Per Thousand
While traditional display ads can be purchased through Microsoft's advertising platform on CPM basis, Facebook also offers its highly-targeted social media ads (text headline, small pic and about 100-estimated characters of text) on a cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) or cost-per-click (CPC) basis. These ads appear alongside profile pages.
Target by:
  • keyword
  • user age, sex, relationship status, workplace
  • geography, interests etc.

Pricing Model: Auction-based CPM or CPC. CPCs tend to be lower than on Google AdWords and thus offer a potentially attractive way to help scale site traffic in a highly-targeted way. Additional Metrics include a Demographic Profile of people seeing and clicking on your adsReach: Over 77 million (June 2009 ComScore data) - Sponsorships

"Meetup is the world's largest network of local groups." Numerous online and offline opportunities exist to find and reach highly-engaged people around a variety of topics. Be sure to check out "How to Use Advanced Social Media Search Functionality Within to Find and Engage Your Online Evangelists."

Pricing: Potentially Free! (if you want to sponsor less than 50 Meetups, you have to reach out to individual Meetup organizers and work out an arrangement. If you want to target over 50 Meetups and your budget is at least $5,000/mo., will assign you an account executive to help with planning and execution.

Reach: over 6 million members across over 55,000 groups.

Note: many other social media advertising opportunities exist, many with reputations for promoting spam. I will not name these other companies here; and if a company has been excluded from the above list, it does not automatically imply that it promotes spam or should be avoided. The point is: be careful. Even when executing a Google Content Network campaign targeting social media sites and discussion forums, it is important to monitor for click-fraud. Especially for pharmaceutical brands, it's important to start with a small list of highly credible sites/partners and expand slowly.

So the lines continue to blur across online marketing tactics like search engine marketing (SEM/PPC, SEO), social media, CRM and display advertising; and integrating the various channels and tactics is critical, but it's often a challenge to put the right people in charge of each opportunity, and then to track success across channels. I hope you find the above tactics helpful, and that your paid search (SEM, PPC) team is working closely with your social media director and display advertiser planners to create sophisticated programs that support your overall campaign in highly-targeted, highly measurable, accountable ways.

Are you testing any of the above opportunities? What did I miss? Are these worthwhile media partners for reputable brands?

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