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A Simple 3-Step Approach to Increasing Conversions and ROI with Social Media Advertising

There’s so much to learn with social media advertisingthat it’s difficult to know exactly where to start.

For example, audience targeting, budgeting, A/B testing, pixel tracking, writing, designing, and analyzing all need to be taken into account if you want to see positive ROIfrom social media advertising.

There’s time and resources to consider as well.

Even incredibly talentedsocial media managers that oversee multi-million dollar advertising budgets understand that it takes hundreds of experiments (and failures) to master the art of social media ads.

After speaking with top brands and marketers from around the globe, we’ve discovered a simple 3-step approach to successful social media advertising. This approach will help you bring all the various elements of advertising together in perfect harmony and how to drive more ROI from your ad spend.

Let’s dive in!

We’re super excited to bring you our brand newSkillshare classon social media advertising! This 50-minute, straightforward class will help you create a solid foundation for your brand or business on social media.

Bonus:We’re offering our community members two free months of Skillshare here (allowing you to access our class for free starting today!)

A 3-step approach to social media advertising

Over the years, we’ve spent countless hours experimenting with varioussocial media advertising strategies.

Whilst research each of these experiments, we found that there was a ton of awesome advice on tactics for each individual channel, but what we were missing was an overall strategic approach or way of thinking about social media advertising.

Instead of focusing on individual tactics and channels that frequently change, we wanted to focus on a blueprint that could be applied to any business or brand, no matter the industry or product. And that’s what I’d love to share with you below.

That social media advertising blueprint is broken up into three distinct stages:

  • Awareness (TOFU)
  • Consideration (MOFU)
  • Conversion (BOFU)

3-Step Approach to Social Media Advertising

Unless you have a product that’s flying off the shelf or a viral marketing campaign, you’ll often need all three stages (awareness, consideration, and conversion) working in tandem to attract and acquire new customers.

Why all three stages are important

One of the things I hear most from businesses is that they’re having trouble finding success with social media advertising, particularly Facebook, in trying to sell their product or services.

Whenever we get that comment, one of the first questions we ask those businesses is: Do you have any campaigns set up that aren’t simply trying to sell, but to generate awareness?

More often than not the answer is no.

It can be quite a challenge to immediately begin selling your product through social media advertising. As a marketer, you have to be willing to build relationships with potential customers first before you ask for the purchase.

That’s where this idea of awareness, consideration, and conversions come into play.

Pros and cons of social media advertising


  • Campaigns are easy to track
  • You can begin to drive traffic and conversions immediately (depending on your knowledge of your customers)
  • You’ll have a complete picture of the ROI on each campaign
  • Tons of targeting options, including: age, likes, interests, income bracket, location, and other demographics
  • Retargeting options for people who have interacted with your content or visited your website
  • Relative to other advertising mediums, social media can be extremely affordable (which we all love)


  • Depending on your target market, a majority of the audience may be irrelevant Leading to wasted ad spend
  • Easy to create ads and leave them without ever checking on performance which can also lead to costliness
  • Social media advertising requires a lot of time and attention in order to maximize results
  • Run the risk of what marketers call ad fatigue. Potential customers might be shown an ad too early or too often and be turned off
  • Larger investment upfront while you figure out a good combination of content, visuals, and copy

Here’s a quick video preview on the importance of social media advertising from our new Skillshare class:

An Online Skillshare Class by Brian Peters

Social Media Advertising: Awareness Stage

In the awareness stage, people are either completely unfamiliar with your brand or are unaware that they have a pain point that needs to be solved.

Social Media Advertising: Awareness Stage

Let’s use Nike as an example, many people have heard of Nike (and they probably even own a pair of Nike shoes or a piece of gear!)

If you’re a direct, somewhat unknown competitor of Nike, the awareness stage is a critical place to start with social media advertising. Reason being, Nike has a strong hold on the market in terms of brand awareness and affinity. People may not know that your shoes and/or gear is more competitively priced or better quality than Nike.

Awareness & organic content

One great strategy for increasing brand awareness is to focus on organic social media posting and amplifying your top performing content.

One of the biggest opportunities for so many brands with limited time and resources is to simply boost top performing posts from their page. Not only is this the most inexpensive form of social media advertising, but it also provides brands with a way to reach a new customer segment that they might not have been able to with traditional ads.

Organic social media content is a powerful catalyst in increasing word-of-mouth marketing. People are much less likely to share an advertisement thatfeels like an advertisementwith their friends and family.

For example, we boosted a recent post on Facebook that highlighted a photo from one of our Buffer Community members. With just $100 dollars, these are the results we received:

Facebook Boosted Post - Buffer Example

We spend about 70% of our overall advertising budget on simply amplifying or boosting top performing content. Some of these boosted posts have reached up to 750,000 people with one or two hundred dollars. Where else can you reach 750,000 people for a few hundred bucks? It’s incredible!

Awareness & audience targeting

What I love most about TOFU social media advertising is that you can boost posts to specific, targeted audiences.

With Facebook, for example, you don’t have to use the boost post button that you see next to your posts in the feed. Instead, as a Page manager, you canuse Facebook Ads Manager to create a campaign (such as traffic, engagement, or video views) to create a custom audience.

Then, once you’ve created a custom, highly-relevant audience, simply select the use existing post option.

How to Boost a Post in Facebook Ads Manager

This gives you total control over budget, goals, audience, and allows you to run boosted posts alongside all of your other campaigns so that you can compare results.

Boosted posts aren’t the only option for marketers in the awareness stage of social media advertising. You can advertise with fun articles, videos, graphics, memes, GIFs anything that you know an audience will respond to and (ideally) share with their followers.

The main focus in the awareness stage is to create and share content that’s super-high-up in the funnel (TOFU). This content shouldn’t necessarily ask for a sale or be a product promotion. It should simply look to provide fun, useful, or entertaining content to an audience who is unaware of your brand or unaware that they have a pain point.

Going back to our Nike example, awareness-type content might be a video series on selecting the proper shoes for all types of activities, or it might be a complete comparison guide on the latest shoe fashion.

Anything that catches someone’s eye! This will help set your business up for the next stage, which is consideration.

Social Media Advertising: Consideration Stage

The second part of our 3-step approach is the consideration stage.

Consideration and conversions are what we consumers typically think about when they hear the word advertising.

Consideration, in particular, is the stage where people are either familiar with your product or recognize that they have a pain point and are researching options.

Social Media Advertising: Consideration Stage

Pixel targeting

It’s in the consideration stage where honing in on proper targeting and retargetingcan become a huge factor in the overall success of your ads. Targeting the correct audience can lead to higher conversions and lower costs.

We recommend having the basic Facebook Pixel set up on your website. You can find your unique pixel in Facebook Ads Manager under Pixels.

Installing the Pixel will allow you to track the behavior of users on your website and also target them with Facebook Ads in the future based on specific actions. It’s magical!

Here’s a what is will look like on Facebook after you’ve successfully installed your Pixel:

Installing Facebook Pixels on Your Website

Keep in mind that many social media networks offer snippets of code that you can place on your website in order to fully track the success of your ads.

Other targeting options

If you don’t have a ton of website traffic at the moment, that’s OK! There are other great ways to target valuable audiences for your business on Facebook.

Lookalike Audiences

One of my favorite ways is the Lookalike custom audience option. Using Facebook’s sophisticated algorithm you can create a custom Lookalike audience that target’s users who are most likely to engage or purchase from your brand.

There are two great ways to go about creating a Lookalike audience.

One, you can upload an email list of your most valuable customers ideally customers that have a high lifetime value (LTV), or customers you know that make repeated purchases. That gives Facebook a great place to start in understanding who to target.

Two, you can create a Lookalike audience based on your own Facebook Page audience. In other words, an audience that’s closely related to the people who currently like and engage with your page.

Create a Lookalike Audience - Facebook Ads Manager

We’ve seen huge success with Lookalike audiences on Buffer’s Facebook Page.

Recently, we experimented with uploading a Mailchimp list of Buffer for Business and Awesome users to Facebook and created a Lookalike audience from there. Campaigns using this custom audience have resulted in a 30% lower CPC and a 11% higher conversion rate than our standard demographic-based audience.

Demographic-based audiences

Speaking of demographics, that’s the final (but still great) way to target users. You can target users based on age, location, mobile device, interests, income, job title, and tons more.

Where we’ve seen the most success is targeting users who like pages similar to ours. We might target users if they’ve liked pages such as Hootsuite, Jay Baer, Mari Smith, Social Media Examiner, Socialbakers, and other similar brands to Buffer.

Creating a Demographic-Based Custom Audience on Facebook

How to approach the consideration stage

To quickly review, the consideration stage is where your customers are either aware of your brand or aware that they have a pain point that they’d like to solve. So it’s important to articulate your ads in such a way that speak to customers at this stage of their journey.

Similar to the awareness stage, people in the consideration stage still need a bit of guidance or time before making a purchase. In speaking to some big brands and people who specialize in Facebook Ads, successful content in this stage depends a lot on the value and perceived value that you’re providing.

Some great questions to ask here are:

  • What specifically are you providing users that is different than they are used to seeing, hearing, reading, and experiencing in on social media or in their industry?
  • Is what you’re advertising with so compelling that they had to click?

For example, let’s say your business is a marketing agency and you want to get more qualified prospects into your sales funnel. You started in the awareness stage and boosted one of your top performing posts on Facebook which drove some traffic to your website.

Awesome! Now what?

If you have Facebook Pixels set up on your website, you can create a Custom Audience based on traffic to that specific page and retarget those users with an add for another similar piece of content. Or you can target them with an invitation to an upcoming webinar on marketing strategy. Or, a free download of an ebook that you created on starting a business.

Since that audience already interacted with your content on Facebook and has now visited your website, you’ll have a much higher chance of getting them to sign up for something in the future and might even get their email address while you’re at it!

Here’s an example of a piece of consideration (MOFU) content we ran with HubSpot last year:

HubSpot and Buffer Social Media Calendar

One more example of targeting in the consideration stage!

First, we created a TOFU video that was meant to purely drive views and engagement.

After posting the video organically to Facebook, we boosted it for extra views. After about 3 or 4 days the views climbed up into the thirty-thousand range.

We then created a Custom Audience based on people who watched more than 10 seconds of this video we created (making them a highly-engaged user). Within that custom audience, we excluded anyone who had visited or in the last 60 days.

Finally, we targeted a top performing and related blog post to this audience to drive traffic to our website.

This ad has driven more than 3,500 visits to our blog for less than $0.15 per click. All of which haven’t been to any of our pages within the last 60 days!

Which leaves us with one last stage, the money maker, conversions.

Social Media Advertising: Conversion Stage

The conversion stage is one of the trickiest stages to master, but those that get the hang of it can drive big results for their business.

Social Media Advertising: Conversion Stage

Success in the conversion stage comes down to three critical components:

  1. The quality of your targeting
  2. The quality of your ads
  3. The ability to track results.

It’s also worth noting that great conversion-focused ads almost always contain an irresistible offer.

For many companies, this might be a discount on a product, a free-trial, a coupon, a buy-one-get-one-free offer, or even the standard product in full price depending on the industry.

Along with this is the importance of being able to track results of your conversion ads through tools like the Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics, a product like AdRoll, or even maybe your brand’s CRM.

Understanding which campaigns are driving conversions, which campaigns are resulting in higher lifetime value customers, and which campaigns are losing money is super important in helping you to double down on what’s working and drop or iterate on what’s not.

Here’a a great graphic from our recent interview with Ian Cleary on creating a sales funnel that converts:

PRISM Funnel - Ian Cleary

It’s important to note here that the word conversion doesn’t necessarily have to mean purchases or sales. A conversion can mean a variety of different things to different businesses.

You might find that a user who signs up for your webinar is much more valuable then someone who signs up for a free trial.

In that case, you’ll probably find it valuable to spend a majority of your ad dollars on webinar conversions, which you can track with a simple landing page and thank you page.

Speaking of budgeting, here’s a sneak peek at Budgeting from our new Skillshare class!

An Online Skillshare Class by Brian Peters

The conversion stage is all about knowing how to track valuable pieces of content in every part of the customer journey.

Over to you!

Social media advertising can be a daunting venture for many businesses and marketers. It’s what prevented us ay Buffer from experimenting with ads for a long time.

Thinking of advertising in terms of the three different stages: awareness, consideration, and conversion, you’ll be well-ahead of 90% of the social media advertising marketers out there.

You can begin with the basics such as boosting posts to help build an audience that you can eventually target down the line. Or, you can jump right into the bottom of the funnel if you have a piece of content that you think would work particularly well.

We encourage you to get out there and try it for yourself!

We’re super excited to bring you our brand newSkillshare classon social media advertising! This 50-minute, straightforward class will help you create a solid foundation for your brand or business on social media.

Getting Started with Instagram for Your Business: 8 Simple Steps

More than 500 million people use Instagram every day1, and over five million businesses use Instagramto tell their stories visually,connect with their fans, and build their brand2.

If you’re new to Instagram, it might be daunting to think about how you can stand out in such a large crowd. But getting started with Instagram is much easier than it might look.

In this post, you’ll learn the basics of using Instagram, from how to set up your profile and how to post a photo or story to Instagram, to some more advanced stuff like Instagram analytics and using some neat tools to help you grow your following.

Let’s jump right in, here’s our guide on how to use Instagram <img src="×72/1f4f8.png&quot; alt="

Fall of Fallon leaves May’s government a scandal away from losing power – The Guardian

The Guardian

Fall of Fallon leaves May’s government a scandal away from losing power

The Guardian

The fall of Michael Fallon is a mighty blow to Theresa May. Her rickety government has just lost one of its old reliables. She could send him out there on Today or Newsnight and he would spout the line of the day faultlessly, unblinking. Even if the

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, a former Darlington MP, quits post amid ‘sexual harassment’ scandalThe Northern Echo

Michael Fallon quits as Westminster sex scandal claims its first

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The Latest: Trump ups ‘Extreme Vetting’ after truck attack – Daily Mail

Daily Mail

The Latest: Trump ups ‘Extreme Vetting’ after truck attack

Daily Mail

President Donald Trump says he has ordered the Department of Homeland Security “to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program” following the deadly truck rampage on a New York City bike path. Authorities stand near a damaged Home Depot truck after…

Bike path symbolising freedom comes under attackFinancial Times

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‘Great British Bake Off’ 2017 Final: Sophie Faldo Crowned Winner

Sophie Faldo has been crowned the winner of this year’s ‘Great British Bake Off’.

The 33-year-old beat off stiff competition from her fellow finalists Steven Carter-Bailey and Kate Lyon on the Channel 4 show.

Sophie was the bookies’ favourite going into the final and also topped an exclusive HuffPost UK poll, with 50% of readers voting her as their favourite to win this year’s competition.

After being crowned the winner, a clearly emotional Sophie said: I’m sure it’ll sink in but it hasn’t quite yet. I just kind of disbelieve really.

She added: The idea of winning is such a minute possibility. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this as long as I live.

Paul Hollywood admitted he was shocked by the standard in the final,and said it had been a real learning curve for Sophie.

Runner up Steven added: I know Sophie can appear quite tough, but she’s not – she’s soft. She was as scared as Kate and I were. And for the first time in 10 weeks I saw vulnerability. She put her heart and soul into this, and she earned it.

For some viewers, it was the least surprising ‘Bake Off’ result ever, after judge Prue Leith accidentally tweeted the result 12 hours ahead of Tuesday night’s pre-recorded final.

OMG PRUE! No baby no! RT @PrueLeith No one told me judging a #gbbo final would be so emotional. I wanted them all to win. Bravo Sophie.

The chef and food writer hastily deleted the premature tweet, but the damage had already been done.

She later took to Twitter again to apologise to fans for spoiling the result, admitting she was mortified.

I am so sorry to the fans of the show for my mistake this morning, I am in a different time zone and mortified by my error #GBBO.

Former Army Officer Sophie had been the dark horse of this year’s competition with a consistent stream of solid bakes, always delivered without barely breaking a sweat.

However, even she admitted that sometimes things did get a bit much in that tent.

Walking into that tent first time is so much harder than training to be a stuntwoman, she said at the start of the series. There is just so much pressure baking in the tent.

Just one day before the final aired, Sophie was forced to deny claims she failed to report a change in her living circumstances to the Department Of Work And Pensions.

The trainee stuntwoman had been accused of claiming a single person’s living allowance, while cohabiting with her boyfriend, chef David Slattery.

A’GBBO’ spokesperson defended the baker, saying:Sophie has recently declared a change in her circumstances to the DWP.

A meeting to reassess her situation, scheduled for last Friday, was postponed by her local jobcentre until next week.

Any suggestion of benefit fraud relating to Sophie is categorically untrue.

Eight people killed in New York ‘act of terror’ after truck drives on to bike path – The Guardian

The Guardian

Eight people killed in New York ‘act of terror’ after truck drives on to bike path

The Guardian

Bicycles and debris lay on a bike path after a motorist drove onto the path near the World Trade Center in New York Tuesday. Photograph: Craig Ruttle/AP. New York. Eight people killed in New York ‘act of terror’ after truck drives on to bike path

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