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Growth / August 01, 2018

Which Social Media Networks Should SaaS Companies Advertise On?

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Hate it, love it, or be absolutely dumbfounded by it, social media is here to stay. You know that businesses must discover effective ways to use these powerful tools to build trust and drive sales.

But with constantly shifting rules, what’s a smart company to do, without feeling like they’re chasing algorithms?

Let’s start with a few questions:

  • What’s the best way for a SaaS company to connect with its audience on social?
  • Which platforms should you target?
  • Is organic social traffic even worth it anymore?
  • How can you use social ads to boost sales?

Understanding the answers to these questions can streamline your social media efforts, enabling continued optimization of your company’s online presence.


Know Your Audience

The tools may change, but understanding your customer doesn’t. If you’re targeting CEOs of industrial operations, your approach will be very different than if you’re targeting content managers of media publications.

Different needs, different concerns. Understanding these differences helps you understand your prospect’s mindset better, and effective advertising boils down to comprehensively understanding the psychology of your buyer.

As this understanding positions you to dig deeper into the needs of your client, you can create more effective content and ads which directly target their biggest problems, posturing your product or service as the solution.

Best of all, once you’ve broken down your target audience to this extent, you realize you only need to focus on the platforms where they spend time. After all, there’s no need to plan a Snapchat strategy when your audience isn’t there. Instead, you maximize your resources, with a laser-focused approach.

It starts with your customer.

If you haven’t already dusted off your buyer personas, it’s time to do so. As you probably know, your buyer person – a – or target market – is a snapshot of your existing customer, as well as an idea of those you’d like to be your customers. It’s a two-part equation.

For example, your existing client – your current target customer and buyer persona – fits one scenario:

Sara is a 35-year old content manager for a website that sells business tools, information, and coaching to small business owners. Wearing multiple hats as content writer, editor, and people wrangler, she’s always looking for ways to stay organized and save time.

Conveniently, your super slick SaaS content calendar system allows separate boards for idea generation, deadlines, pending submissions, and a way to manage accompanying images and photos, all integrated with an easy-to-use social media scheduling system. Sara is thrilled that your solution keeps so much of her work in one dashboard, that she can add team members, and that the software is intuitive for everyone.

However, you have some other features coming down the pipe that you think will also be helpful for another type of client. We’ll call this your buyer persona 2. This buyer fits within the scope of an additional market you’d love to tap.

Let’s say you received a glowing testimonial from another type of customer, which initially gave you this idea. Amanda is a freelance writer who used your platform, as an editor in a former role, and she adapted it for her writing business, as a pitching calendar. She’s thrilled at how much easier she’s found it to track her pitches and follow-ups, and she loves the built-in social media scheduling program. When she writes and tells you of her success, you’re delighted, because you can now see a new opportunity.

You now have a new audience who can benefit from your product. Of course, your marketing content will be different for this audience – they’ll have different motivations – but the platform will likely be the same because this is still a related audience.

You can use this approach with any audience you’d like to convert to customers. Get granular about who they are and why they would use your product. What business goals does your product help them accomplish?

To do a bit of field research in this area of development, you can try talking with your existing customers, visiting forums, Facebook or LinkedIn groups, and utilizing Quora. What are the top questions, concerns, and complaints?

Knowing these helps you know what to say – and how to say it – in your marketing materials.


Choose Your Platforms

It’s impossible for any business to do a stellar job on every social media platform. And that’s okay.

Frankly, if you’ve dialed in on your audience well enough, they probably dominate 1-3 social media platforms – not 5 or 6. Most people (and even businesses) simply don’t have the time to effectively use that many interfaces. Concentrate on the places where your audience spends time.

As an example, energy drinks may work great on Snapchat and YouTube, but SaaS products are likely to see greater ROI on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Choose wisely.

If you’re not sure where your audience spends time, consider these numbers:

  • Facebook is still the big dog in social media. It accounts for 68% of American social media usage across ages and industries. It’s where America goes to share vacation photos and life milestones.
  • Instagram clocks in at 35% of users, with 64% of those falling into the 18-29-year-old category. As a visual platform, it’s a favorite with bloggers and visual businesses, like travel destinations.
  • LinkedIn ranks 3rd at 25%, with users evenly divided between men and women. It remains the business stalwart of the social media world.
  • Twitter comes in 4th, with 24% of users. It’s still popular with journalists and other media types, along with many business owners.

Knowing the primary users of these platforms and what you know about your target market,
it’s easy to choose one or two places to focus on your efforts.

As you know, effective social media advertising relies on being where you can connect with the right people. No reason to have 50,000 Instagram followers if your customers aren’t there.


To Pay, or Not Pay?

There was a time when businesses tried to woo clients strictly through organic (aka, free) means, but just as organic SEO is tougher these days, so is organic social.

Possibly the most famous of depressed organic reach is via Facebook. For the past years, the social giant has typically provided a reach of 1-2% on Facebook Pages. Meaning, if you had 1000 “likes,” then approximately 10-20 people might see your post. This, of course, was meant to encourage advertising, as that is the revenue driver for social media.

Then, last winter, the Facebook algorithm readjusted itself and decreased reach even further; Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook had decided to prioritize posts by friends and family.

Of course, it’s not only Facebook that’s subject to algorithm changes. These affect every platform.

This is not all bad news, though. The ROI of paid social advertising (when done on the right channels) can be very high. In fact, paid social is extremely sophisticated and can help you pinpoint your target audience, with the right message at the right time, and then retarget them through automation.

If you’ve done your homework, you know the pain points of your target customer and why they buy your product. Set up smart ads on the right channels – with a funnel process, to continue delivering value – and you’re well on your way to growing your subscriber base for your SaaS product.


Let’s consider three basic strategies for paid social on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


With any SaaS product, you’re going to offer some sort of free giveaway item, to entice people to join your email list. A free trial is typical. Let’s consider simple ad strategy on the following platforms.

Sample Paid Ads on Instagram

Let’s review how Instagram’s algorithm is working today since that impacts your content strategy and ads. But first, a reminder to how it worked just a year ago.

Prior to July 2016, Instagram showed users a chronological feed. Users saw the most recent posts first, no matter what. Then, Instagram adopted an algorithm that works more like Facebook and LinkedIn, in that what users now see is based on factors like popularity of the post, how recent it is, and the user’s relationship with that brand.

For example, let’s say you love the luggage brand Away, and you follow them on Instagram, but you’re not a heavy Instagram user. You only log in a couple of times a month. However, when you do log in, you’re likely to see Away posts, because you always “like” them.

Essentially, your past behavior influences what you see.

This is good news for brands who fit the Instagram market. The target audience here skews younger, they often relate to aspirational content, and these consumers are highly visual. Now that Instagram is rolling out e-Commerce options, like in-platform booking and payment options, those aspirational images can tuck in a “buy” button for in-app purchases.

As of this year, augmented reality has also made its way onto Instagram, where merchants will soon be able to use Instagram Stories to target consumers, using videos with direct product links. This follows Facebook’s announcement in May of 2018 that advertisers can now use augmented reality to allow consumers to “try-before-you-buy,” with an array of products – like cosmetics, glasses, and even fashion – whereby potential buyers can test out how merchandise looks, using a digital interface.

If you sell a SaaS product on Instagram, whether you’re using augmented reality or still going the traditional posting route, it’s important that your images reflect the Instagram aesthetic. A clean, modern look will help your posts appear natural. You can share testimonials, photos of your cool office, or the cover of your latest eBook. Then, use appropriate hashtags, add a “sign up” button or “download” button, as appropriate, and boost your post, to attract new followers and buyers.


Paid Influencers on Twitter

It’s no secret that trusted influencers can help you reach your target audience faster and therefore shorten the sales cycle. There’s a reason that consumer products have used celebrity spokespeople to endorse products – it works.

Fortunately, when it comes to business and SaaS products, you don’t need a Madison Avenue budget to find influencers willing to write sponsored blogs, or share sponsored tweets, on your behalf. Rather, it’s all about finding a good match.

First, review your SaaS’s twitter profile, and make sure it’s up to speed. Good influencers only promote top products and services that make them look good. After all, this is their reputation at stake.

Make sure your Twitter feed looks active and cared for. Next, identify micro-influencers, those people who may have a smaller, but engaged audience who are a good match for your product.

Follow these micro-influencers on Twitter, retweet their tweets, and spend some time building a relationship, before you ask them to pitch your product.


Sponsored Ads on LinkedIn

Bing now offers advertisers the ability to target LinkedIn users with ads. You can choose sponsored content which shows up in the newsfeed, text ads on the right-hand side of the page, and even sponsored InMail that goes directly into a prospect’s inbox.

This is good news for smaller businesses because you can target by job title, seniority, skill set, and even groups, to position your marketing message directly in front of your target audience. Fortunately, due to the hyper-targeted nature of LinkedIn ads, you can target specific people – think influencers – with your content.

As always, make sure your content is relevant to your user and the decision maker. Revisiting our earlier example, if you’re targeting content managers for your product, then it makes sense to target them as the primary user, as well as the Director of Content, or Marketing Director, as the ultimate decision maker.


When crafting your ad content, keep your message specific, with a call-to-action, for maximum effectiveness. The difference is clear between, “Content managers of travel companies who need an end-to-end solution for organizing and scheduling content, sign up for this free trial!” and “People who need help organizing their content.” One has a clear directive for users to follow and tells them precisely what’s in it for them.


As you can see, there are multiple avenues you can take, when it comes to selling your SaaS solution on social media.

You’ll find the most success by crafting an ultra-specific awareness of who uses your product, as well as what users say about it. You can then tailor your messages accordingly and on the right platform, rather than expecting magic in a single ad. Track the results, tweak them as necessary, and continue to expand your reach.

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