Social4 Social PPC Misconceptions

4 Social PPC Misconceptions

Social PPC can be a highly effective way to generate leads and sales. Because social PPC is still relatively new, mistaken beliefs abound about advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. This post clears up four of the biggest misconceptions.

LinkedIn Twitter FacebookSocial PPC has been around for several years, and is becoming mainstream in the PPC world. Many advertisers are now asking for Facebook or LinkedIn ads before asking for Google AdWords – a huge paradigm shift in the world of PPC. Often, advertisers are now thinking in terms of “audiences” instead of “keywords.”

Because social PPC is still relatively new, mistaken beliefs abound. In this article, we’ll clear up four misconceptions about social PPC.

Misconception 1: You Need an Organic Presence in the Social Channel to Use Their Ads Platform

Technically, this is true for Twitter, in that a Twitter handle and account is required to use Twitter Ads; and for LinkedIn, where you need a company page. But you don’t need to be active in the channel to use the ad platform.

One of the biggest reasons to use social PPC is the ability to target audiences. With search, targeting is accomplished by keywords, geography, and time of day; with social PPC, targeting by job title and interests is not only possible, it’s the lifeblood of the platforms. For B2B advertisers and clients who want to reach a specific type of user, social PPC is a great fit – whether or not the brand is active in social media.

We had a client who used both LinkedIn and Facebook ads to promote a new product. The client was not active in either channel; in fact, they didn’t even have Facebook or LinkedIn pages before starting the campaign. We still ran successful social PPC campaigns in both engines – generating nearly 50 million targeted impressions, thousands of clicks, and hundreds of leads.

Granted, you’ll be limited in the types of ads you can run if you’re not active in the platforms. Promoted tweets are only an option if you’re tweeting; same with LinkedIn sponsored updates and Facebook promoted posts. I do recommend these options for those who are active in social media, but it isn’t required to run successful ad campaigns.

Options for non-active advertisers include:

Misconception 2: You Should Only Run 1-2 Promoted Updates at Once

Advertisers new to social PPC often want to dip their toes in the water with a small budget to gauge performance. That’s a good strategy, especially for those without a significant organic social presence.

Because the budget is small, many advertisers (myself included, when I first started managing paid social) feel they need to keep only one to two sponsored updates or tweets live at any given time, to avoid ad burnout.

Not true.

We’ve found in repeated tests that having at least three, and preferably four or five, updates live at once greatly boosts performance: engagement, click-through rate, and lead volume. Remember, you’re (hopefully) adding new followers every day, and they may not have seen the updates before.

As with all things PPC, perform your own tests to determine the right number of posts to keep live at once.

Misconception 3: Facebook Custom Audiences Are Great for Reaching Small, Tightly Themed Groups of Individuals

When Facebook opened up Custom Audiences to everyone in October, marketers were beside themselves with excitement. Thoughts of creating highly segmented campaigns with tightly targeted custom audiences danced in their heads.

Custom Audiences are a breakthrough in social PPC targeting. Prior to Custom Audiences, only email marketing had the capability to reach specific individuals in such a targeted way.

However, it isn’t that simple in reality. In the Custom Audiences documentation, Facebook says, “Your Custom Audiences should have at least 1,000 people to help ensure meaningful reach with your ads.”

This sounds like a suggestion, but my experience indicates that it’s a requirement. We created custom audiences with a few hundred users. We were able to get the ads to display for a few weeks, but two things happened: frequency was very high, and CTR was very poor.

Eventually, Facebook stopped showing ads. Not only that, but we were unable to create new ads using the audiences.

Bottom line: unless you’re running a campaign over a short period of time, make sure your audience is comprised of at least 1,000 people, or risk wasting a lot of time setting up campaigns that won’t get many impressions.

Pro tip: It is possible to use smaller Custom Audiences to create Lookalike Audiences, however. Lookalike Audiences are similar to a Custom Audience, but are usually much bigger. We’ve found it to be worthwhile to use Custom Audiences as a base, and then create Lookalike Audiences from which our Facebook Ads campaigns will be built. It’s worth testing.

Misconception 4: Twitter Ads Is a Pay-Per-Click Platform

Twitter Ads are an effective way to broaden the reach of your tweets. But Twitter Ads is a pay per engagement platform, not pay-per-click. And engagements aren’t the same as clicks.

Engagements in Twitter ads include all of the following engagement actions:

  • Clicks on links in the tweet
  • Clicks on images (to expand them)
  • Clicks on hashtags
  • Clicks on any Twitter handles in the tweet
  • @ Replies
  • Follows
  • Retweets
  • Clicks on lead generation cards

As you can guess, engagements (and costs) can add up fast.

That isn’t to say that Twitter ads aren’t effective. One of our clients gets more leads from Twitter than from any other social media source. But it’s important to understand what you’ll be charged for when embarking on a Twitter Ads campaign.


Social PPC can be a highly effective way to generate leads and sales. Hopefully clearing up these misconceptions will help you succeed in your social PPC efforts. To learn more about social PPC, check out this Webmaster Radio podcast with David Szetela and Elizabeth Marsten.


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