10 Questions with Robert Brady on Social Media Marketing

When it comes to marketing, there are so many articles and resources for what you search, but the chances of finding what might actually help you are quite rare. There is so much wisdom out there that it can be a little exhausting.

That’s why we came up with Freshmarketer 10. This is our own humble attempt at fighting this marketing clutter and delivering a little value. We ask 10 questions each to the marketing professionals who’ve been there, done that. So you can learn from the pros!

We’ve talked about different marketing topics with marketers who’ve had hands-on experience. We go over marketing campaigns that worked and didn’t. Also, there are great tips and advice in there as well. All of that in 10 questions. No more, no less.

10 Questions with Robert Brady on Social Media Marketing 

Robert Brady is the founder of Righteous Marketing, a digital marketing agency. He is a Google AdWords Certified digital marketer and offers PPC management services as a consultant. He also specializes in conversion optimization, both site-wide and for channel-specific landing pages. 


1. How effective is social media advertising compared to Google Adwords? 

When you look at Google ads, the biggest differentiator is the fact that you have the intent. You know, that the person is actively searching for a product or service at that moment in time. That’s the big advantage that you can’t replicate through your paid social media, almost regardless of how savvy you get with it.

But one of the limitations that go with search engine marketing is that you are limited by the amount of search is being done. You can only appear if someone actually searches — if the search triggers your keywords. So with Google Adwords, you’re limited on volume. And that’s really where paid social media shines because people spend so much time with social media. That gives you the opportunity to get in front of people who are likely to be good prospects because of the targeting that you’re using.

So that’s where I think the real difference is. Search engine, Google ads, Bing ads, is really good at harvesting demand that already exists. But paid social opens up a lot more volume even when people are not actively searching for your keyword. 

2. What are the key ingredients to get a Facebook or a twitter PPC campaign right? 

The first thing is tracking. If it’s Facebook, 

  • You need to get your pixel in place; 
  • You need to define the conversion and events. 
  • Make sure that that code is appropriately placed on the website, that it’s running correctly, and tracking appropriately.

And that goes for any platform. LinkedIn and Twitter have native tracking. And I would recommend that you back up the tracking by using a more agnostic solution like Google analytics, because, my experience is that with each platform, their settings will naturally be a little bit greedy and show as many conversions as possible for themselves.

So if you are dealing with multiple touchpoints, where potentially they’re clicking on a search ad and then they’re seeing a marketing ad through Facebook, the agnostic platform might be a little better at helping you understand which channel brings the maximum conversions. 

Once you get the tracking in place, start sending people to the website, and pay for the traffic, you know what’s happening. You can see all of your metrics and know 

  • What your conversion rates are,
  • How long they’re staying on the site or if they’re bouncing, 
  • How many pages they’re looking at, 
  • What content they’re looking at,

All of that is very important and should be done before you spend any more money on your paid advertising.

The next step is to look at your targeting. Because each platform has different targeting criteria. Facebook and Instagram, it’s very much based on the kind of user in a social setting, where its interests, likes, pages they’ve liked, etc. There is very limited professional information like job titles or industry on Facebook and Instagram right now. Whereas if you’re looking at, say, LinkedIn, it has a very robust set of targeting from a professional sense. Twitter, probably a little bit less so on either of these metrics just because of the way people use the platform.

But you really need to understand who your potential customer is and be able to define them in a manner that lines up with the criteria available. So you need to build the audience differently on each platform so that you’re reaching out to the right group.

There are numerous exercises you can do to define your potential personas. And there are some tools, like look-alike audiences available that can take an existing audience that may be smaller, and expand it for you. But you need to have your audience definitions in place. And if you’re going to be doing any remarketing, you need to define those audiences and set that up right from the get-go so that the audiences start building. You need to build that audience before it reaches a critical mass, and you can actually start leveraging it.

If you get the tracking, audience definitions and targeting in place, the last part is just going to be your creative. You’ve got to define the creative so that it matches up with the specific targeting so that it’s relevant and creates a very smooth experience — the ad messaging should establish the relevance of why your product or service is relevant to them in the context of the targeting. And as long as it is doing that, then — when they get to the site, they know why it’s important or how it relates to them, and they can quickly move on that action you want them to take.

So I’d say that’s the big three. You want your tracking in place, get your targeting and those definitions of your audience are decided upon, and then having creative that matches up with those audiences.

3. Can you tell us about some of the most successful social media campaigns? Why do you think it worked?

I’ve seen a lot of success right now with a client where they have a large list, an email list, that’s very successful for them. And they want to build that list up. I mean, it’s not a small list. They have over 100,000 people on it, so it’s already fairly large, but they wanted to actively build the list. And we’ve actually had a lot of success using Facebook, their lead gen forms, where the set up is a little odd because you have to go into, like, the page admin section and find lead gen forms. You have to create a form, and then once you’ve created the form, you go back into ads manager where you create a campaign and then you attach the form to it. It’s kind of an odd implementation from Facebook, but we’ve actually had very good success with it. They’ve been able to acquire a lot of emails under a dollar each, which over time ends up being very profitable for them and helps grow a very valuable asset to the business.

4. Where do people usually go wrong when it comes to paid social media ads?

Well, probably the biggest issue that I see is that people kind of skip the middle step of defining the audience well. They do the tracking part. They understand that they need to have good ads. But they kind of wing it on the audience definitions, and they’ll say — oh, well I’m just going to boost this post to my followers.

That’s one way to go about it. But when you want to boost your net-new customers, boosting it to your followers probably not going to generate a lot of net new customers. You need to get outside of the people who know you already.

How are you defining your audience? There’s almost an unlimited amount of options when you start to really consider it, and it’s a matter of prioritizing them. You want to remarket and stay in front of your current customers and get them to repurchase, or continue to be customers. So rather than going out and trying to reinvent the wheel on an audience, maybe you could create a lookalike audience based on your customers that would already be a lot better than you do a whole ton of homework and research on. 

So, I think that a lot of people go wrong when they don’t put the necessary thought into who they’re trying to get in front of and why it makes sense to get in front of those people with the offers. Look for more targeting options like what interests does Facebook have? Are their job titles in there that could be helpful to me? People, who like what pages or which celebrities they’re going to be good candidates?

5. Should businesses adopt different strategies towards different social media platforms Or a common social media strategy would work? 

Be it Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, you’re trying to make sure you’re getting in front of the right person with an offer that’s relevant to them, but the execution is slightly different in each platform. 

With Facebook and Instagram, Facebook has mobile traffic mostly and there’s a good amount of desktop mixed in there. With Instagram, it’s exclusively mobile. Apart from this, you should also consider how your ad is appearing, whether it’s in the feed or other placements. 

With Instagram, stories are becoming more of a thing. You have a big difference in the creative requirements. Because Instagram Stories runs in a vertical format with images and videos. So if you’re producing images or videos for Instagram you need to have different dimensions. It’s not the standard 1080 by 1080 that you use for Instagram’s static images. So if you’re doing stories, you actually do need different creative for that. And really, Stories has a lot more immediacy, it’s going to disappear after 24 hours from the user’s feed. So the message that you share needs to be relevant on a very short timeline, and you need to understand that’s going to disappear. It’s not something they’re going to come back to a week later. You’re going to be doing a lot more content refreshes because it is only going to have that 24-hour lifespan now.

Whereas with LinkedIn, you could run the same creative for a couple of weeks. There’s a large number of users that may only see it once or twice because that’s their only interactive platform on a weekly, maybe monthly basis. Maybe they’re only interacting during job searches — heavily then, but they then go maybe months without coming back.

So you have a little bit more life span with some of the creative that you run on a platform like LinkedIn. Of course, Twitter is its own beast. The time you have to get someone’s attention on Twitter might be measured in seconds. The principle is the same. You want to get the right decision for the right people. But how you’re actually going about is going to vary based on platform, because the way that the ad is being delivered, the way that it’s being seen, the mindset of the user is going to be different across those different platforms, and you should plan for that.

6. What approach do you recommend for testing and optimizing social media PPC campaigns to improve results? 

With Facebook and Instagram, they’re already automating a lot of things for you. Especially with the campaign, the budget optimizer features that are default now. The one attribute that I think humans still need to control and is really a big opportunity for optimization is the creatives. So testing different creatives and not just the slight differences like different colored buttons or a couple of slight variations on a title, or the description. I think that with social media platforms, it’s much more critical that you’re testing big differences.

Test the entire image or the graphic so that when you see differences in performance, you can say the response is better because there are high differences. The chance of hitting the home run — I mean, obviously you have the chance of striking out — but you have a chance of getting big gains with a fairly clear understanding of what is working well, you can then apply in different places — in your email. With some of your website design, those are transferable findings.

So I think that creative optimization like testing different creatives, seeing what’s winning and what’s not, updating it frequently — frequently, depending on which platform you’re on will vary. 

Creative is where I think a lot of the optimization needs to happen and where we as human beings, can still beat the machines and really get big wins.

7. Share your thoughts on LinkedIn PPC campaigns and how to get it right?

 LinkedIn is awesome if you’re in the B2B realm because the way that LinkedIn defines audiences is all based on professional criteria. LinkedIn is like an online resume. You know what job title people have and their job functions, employer and even industry. You can actually target specific companies if you want to do the account-based marketing or ABM strategies. If your sales team has a list of 100 companies that they would like to be their clients; you can build an audience of people who work with those companies who have specific job roles and job titles.

So with B2B, it’s a really fantastic channel. It is a little bit more expensive from a cost per click point of view. You need to have a very well defined funnel for that so that when you’re bringing those leads in, you have a very well defined pathway for them to follow and convert. 

But the other thing some people don’t consider is that Microsoft bought LinkedIn a couple of years ago, and they’ve been slowly integrating Bing ads with LinkedIn, so that right now, inside of Bing ads, you can layer a few characteristics of LinkedIn targeting over the top of your Bing Ads search campaigns. I know that industry is one of them. 

I think it’s an opportunity that’s going to grow as LinkedIn gets more deeply integrated with Bing. So, that’s something you should consider while using LinkedIn.

8. One of the major challenges in running a paid social media campaign is figuring out the budget. Are there any general trends or patterns to determine this?  

Budgeting is definitely trickier when you’re talking about social media because a lot of it’s based on audience size. And audience size is something that most of the time is outside your control.

Even on a remarketing side, it costs money to build the remarketing audience so that you can re-market to them. So, it is definitely difficult. But it’s a similar thought process.

if you’re going to validate a channel like LinkedIn if a customer’s worth around  $25,000 and if you’re willing to commit like $5,000 to acquire that customer. You need 10 leads to turn it into one customer, so each lead needs to be $500. Say you need 50 clicks to get one lead, you can afford a $10 cost per click at break-even, and that’s assuming a 2% conversion rate from click to lead, and a 10% conversion rate from lead to customer.

Obviously, this is going to be different for each business. But if you have that basic funnel, that math put together, then it’s just the matter of saying like, okay, how much confidence do we want in the channel? If it’s something where you want to give it a fair shake, I think you need to be able to put in 25, 30 leads at least. Run through so that you can know if the conversion rate is holding where it should be? 

So just kind of work backward from the number of leads you need to the number of customers, and then budget accordingly so you can generate the lead volume.

9. Should social media advertising platforms be regulated so that most of the ads don’t end up like spam? 

I’m against government regulation of the platforms. I think that turns into its own mess when the government gets involved. The product quality needs to be increased for users and that’s where I think that the platforms need to step up with what they’re doing. 

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Quora –all of these platforms are battling for attention and time. But look at the number of really large Internet portals that existed pre-Google and how quickly all of them basically died when Google changed the game. If somebody comes along and really changes the way that we consume social media and creates an experience that’s better enough, I mean, Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn, they could all suffer equally rapid declines, even though they are enormous, just because the user experience isn’t there.

So I would like to see the platform step up what they’re doing to make the user experience better. And that’s going to be hard because you can’t keep everybody happy, but I think that they could do a better job of making more people happy, and avoid a lot of the controversies where it seems like they’re just shooting themselves in the foot unnecessarily.

10. What advice would you give someone who is just getting started with paid social media advertising? 

First, I would tell them that they made a great choice. It’s a great industry and it’s a good niche to be in. A lot of ad dollars are moving towards paid social as companies continue to decrease their investment in a lot of traditional media. We’re even seeing budgets moving from paid search into paid social.

So first off, I would tell them a good job, a good choice. And also that it’s a fun industry because it changes so frequently that when a big change happens, really, everybody goes to square one. Somebody who’s been doing it for 15 years, and you, as a brand new person, when something’s new, you’re on equal footing. So if you work harder and learn faster, you can do it better. It doesn’t matter that they’ve been in the market for 15 years. If you’re better, people will pay you, whether that’s your employer, whether it’s as a freelancer, whether it’s as a contract or whatever, you’re worth more if you can do better than people. I think it’s a really vibrant industry because it gives more opportunities for people who are early in their careers to really shine bright and be rewarded for it.