If you’re looking for a job in social media, it’s not enough to simply know how to gain followers and garner “likes.” Knowing how to plan, negotiate, and analyze online advertising efforts has become an essential skill for anyone in—or hoping to land—a social media role.
These days, some large companies even have positions that solely focus on paid performance marketing. A person in that role would have to know how to use a variety of paid advertising options on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
But even if it’s not the entire basis of the role you’re applying for, understanding how online ads work is a skill you’ll need in any social media marketing position.
Now, keep in mind that learning the ins and outs of all the social media advertising options out there is nearly impossible. But there are a few steps that you can start with now (and continue to build on) that will put you a step ahead of your competition when applying to social media-related jobs.
Step 1: Learn the Terms
You’ve probably heard or read about concepts like CPC, CPM, and conversion rates, but do you really know what these terms mean? To be successful in a social media role, you should be familiar with the definitions of these important cross-platform terms:
PPC (pay per click): PPC is a method of advertising in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked.
CPC (cost per click): CPC refers to the cost an advertiser pays each time a user clicks an ad in his or her PPC campaign.
CPA (cost per action): CPA is the amount an advertiser is willing to pay when the clicks on his or her ad lead to a sale.
CPM (cost per mille or thousand): The cost for 1,000 ad impressions or displays (not clicks) on ads.
CTR (cost through rate): A comparison of the number of people who view an ad compared to the number of people who click an ad.
Conversion rate: The number of people who did whatever you define as “converting” in your ad (e.g., made a purchase, visited your website, or signed up for a newsletter).
Step 2: Know the Unique Features of Each Social Network
Facebook is currently the most widely used social network for advertising, but several other platforms have recently jumped in the game and are becoming increasingly valuable for businesses. If you’re just getting started in social media advertising, here are the four platforms I recommend familiarizing yourself with (in a business way).
Pros: Facebook helps get your ad in front of the right people by offering in-depth targeting options, including the ability to define your audience based on location, gender, demographics, and interests. In addition, these ads are very cost-effective; you can advertise there for as little as $1 a day.
Cons: There are so many ad variations available that becoming well-versed in Facebook ads can take a lot of time.
Where to learn more: For marketers who are just getting started, I recommend reading AdEspresso’s blog. AdEspresso is a marketing tool for building the ads, but its blog posts are easy to understand and geared toward those looking to learn Facebook advertising. When you’re looking for something a little more advanced, I recommend hopping over to Jon Loomer’s blog—in my opinion, he’s the king of Facebook advertising.
Pros: LinkedIn offers the ability to target ads based on job title, skills, industry, company name, level of seniority, and even membership in certain LinkedIn groups. According to LinkedIn, professionals are signing up to join the platform at a rate of more than two new members per second, making it the best option for B2B advertising. In addition, you can choose either CPC or CPM.
Cons: The minimum daily budget requirement is quite high for LinkedIn—advertisers must have a daily budget of at least $10. Also, tracking conversions can be a challenge: First, you need to tag your URLs with tracking parameters, then you need to create goals in Google Analytics for the conversions you want to track.
Where to learn more: According to my LinkedIn ads guru, the best place to learn about LinkedIn ads is the company’s own learning center. Or, for a video option, Viveka von Rosen has several tutorials devoted to the topic.
Pros: There are three options for advertising on Twitter: promoting your account, sponsoring a tweet, or promoting a tweet. The platform recently updated its ad options and is working more toward a Facebook-like ad platform—the company is currently beta testing the option of choosing a campaign objective and it has recently expanded targeting options for ads.
Cons: Twitter is the most rudimentary platform compared to other social advertising options. It has recently upped its game, but it still doesn’t have the same robust targeting capabilities as some of its competitors. Plus, with the quick-moving nature of Twitter feeds, advertisements can easily get lost in a user's stream.
Where to learn more: Not many bloggers write about Twitter advertising best practices, so in my experience, the best place to learn about it is on Twitter’s advertising blog.
Pros: Pinterest is growing fast and recently hit 100 million users. Its advertising platform is easy to use and Pinterest ads generate referral traffic, since every person clicks through the ad to a link. In addition, it is a top pick for marketers who have visual content to promote.
Cons: The majority of the audience is female—something advertisers should keep in mind when building campaigns. Also, it’s not for every company: The businesses that are the most successful on this social network are typically in the food, fashion, and lifestyle industries.
Where to learn more: Once again, I recommend going straight to the source. Pinterest Ads offers a complete guide to setting up ads, then provides a variety of articles and best practices so that businesses can achieve the most success possible.
Step 3: Use Analytics to Figure Out What Works
Once you start running ads, your boss is going to want to see results (and so are you).
There are a variety of tools available that can help you track your ads’ results. Some of my favorites are KISSmetrics and AdEspresso. However, these are tools are really only useful when you’ve reached the point of running ads. For job seekers who can’t yet do that—but still want to position themselves as knowledgeable, well-rounded candidates—you should strive to become familiar with how to analyze and track your advertising efforts.
In this situation, I recommend doing good, old-fashioned research. Read blogs, infographics, and ebooks that discuss advertising return on investment (ROI) and why it matters. Once you’re overseeing the online advertising for a company, the more results you can show, the higher budget you’ll receive. But you’ll only be able to prove those results if you know the right things to measure and how to measure them.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of online advertising, but the right knowledge can give you an advantage when you’re competing with other qualified candidates for a job in social media.