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Social Media Advertising – Is it worth a try?

By on May 1st, 2011 in Marketing

I work with other members of a local not-for-profit user group to organize two information technology training sessions. We bring high quality instructors from around the country to Central Illinois. We promote the conferences to previous attendees, network administrations within 45 miles of our area, and school technology coordinators.

This week, the Illinois Valley Network Users Association, will be holding its annual 2-day Spring Training Conference. When it came to marketing the conference, the IVNUA board turned to me (as usual) to coordinate our efforts.

I used e-mail (sending approximately 10 different e-mail marketing messages over 2-months to our list) to promote the conference to previous attendees.

I purchased a mailing list and sent a direct mail postcard to several hundred network administrators at companies within 45 miles. I was able to select specific job titles from the Dun & Bradstreet database and ensure that I was only mailing to company headquarter locations (not branch offices). I also removed franchises from the list.

I purchased online advertising on Google, using their geo-targeting features. I purchased a wide selection of network technology training terms, but specified only to display to people within 45-miles. And I set a daily spending limit.

And, I also dabbled with Social Media advertising. For the first time, I purchased ads on both Facebook and LinkedIn to promote the conference.

I found Facebook’s ad technology to be truly amazing. I was able to target people by age with specific interests relating to the conference who lived within the target area. As I set the criteria for each ad (I ran four different ads for testing purposes), Facebook showed how many individuals met the criteria — they gave me an accurate count of prospects.

As such, I was able to target a small population of Facebook users with very effective, INEXPENSIVE advertising.

LinkedIn’s technology was similar — but I found that their geographic targeting was based on urban regions, which made it a little less effective when promoting a conference in a rural area. Nevertheless, these were business users and the ads were quite effective at promoting the conference.

All in all, I was impressed with how easy it was to build targeted online social media ads. Costs were very fair — I spent less than $300 for 5 weeks of pay-per-click social media advertising. Keep in mind that my ads were VERY targeted to VERY small populations.

Social media advertising might be worth a look for your next campaign or event.