Genevieve is a Senior Digital Marketing Specialist with a passion for social media. When she is not busy planning and optimizing campaigns, you'll find her enjoying time with her family or planning her next travel adventure.

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The Grass May Be Greener – Leveraging Social Media Marketing Outside of Facebook’s Walled Garden

Facebook ads have been around longer than most new social media channels like TikTok, Snapchat and Pinterest have even existed. Heck, Facebook has even been around longer than many social media marketers have been working in the industry. They’ve become a go-to platform for marketers as there’s a use case for the platform for pretty much any industry and business objective. So it feels like a safe bet, I get it. But what if I told you there’s a whole other world of paid social out there beyond the Facebook and Instagram walls?

Green field on other side of a brick wall.

Demo targeting on Facebook and YouTube is gone, now what?

OK, that may be a slight over exaggeration but if you saw Denise’s recent blog post you’ll know that in October and December of 2020 Google and Facebook updated their advertising policies to prevent discrimination for the housing, employment and credit industries. This means that we are no longer able to target Facebook and YouTube users based on their age, gender, postal code and certain interests or life events. 

We recently ran a campaign on Facebook where the client’s product fell within one of these industries and our target audience was post-secondary students. Facebook and Instagram had historically been top performing channels for this client and product so we decided to move forward with the campaign despite the challenge of not being able to layer on age targeting. Instead, we focused our targeting on lookalikes and custom audiences in hopes of still reaching a good number of those 18-24 year old post-secondary students. Creative also played a role here and the imagery used featured young 18-24s and the copy spoke directly to students.

Despite our efforts to match targeting and creative as closely as possible to students, Facebook’s algorithm had other plans. Only 10% of the budget was spent on 18-24s while the largest portion of the budget went to 25-34s followed by 35-44s and then those 65+. However, one interesting insight that came out of this campaign were the results driven by those outside of our post-secondary student target. The results showed that for this particular client and product, there is an opportunity to target or reach those who may not be students themselves but are key influencers in the student’s path to conversion. If you do truly need to reach 18-24s though, I hope the above data helps to show why it might be time to look beyond Facebook and Instagram.  

If not Facebook and Instagram, then what?

Beyond the Facebook walls there’s a whole other world of paid social media and at this stage, most of these platforms have very similar ad offerings. When deciding which social platform to test next, some of your decision making process should involve diving into your target audience’s media habits. At Vovia, our media habit research includes looking at RTS data. To recap a previous blog post, RTS is a consumer database which helps us understand consumer behaviours, attitudes, and perceptions. So in our previous example of wanting to target post-secondary students in Canada, we could look at the following RTS data:

The graph compares the social media habits of those who are 18-24 years old AND currently enrolled in full-time post-secondary to all 18-24s in Canada; both of these can be benchmarked against all Canadians 18 and over (A18+ Gen Pop in the graph). What this graph shows is that although Facebook is the highest reaching social media channel for Canadians 18+, when we zero in on our target audience’s media habits, we can see that Snapchat’s is almost just as high as Facebook and Instagram. So if I can’t demo target on Facebook and Instagram based on my post-secondary student audience, my recommendation would be to test a Snapchat campaign.

But what about TikTok?

You might have noticed that one particular ‘it’ app is missing from the above graph. TikTok isn’t yet included in RTS data due to its relatively quick increase in popularity over the past year. But just because it isn’t in the research yet doesn’t mean you should ignore it.

Over the last year alone, TikTok’s average monthly consumption per user grew by 58% in Canada. And if that doesn’t convince you to consider TikTok as a channel in an upcoming campaign, consider these pretty appealing points in its favour:

  •  Its self-serve ad platform has only been around for 6 months in Canada? This means there’s still time to reach your audience in an unsaturated environment as most businesses have yet to take the plunge on TikTok. 
  • If you’re not sure if now is the time for your business to go all-in on TikTok and create an organic account, no problem. Unlike most social media platforms, you’re able to serve TikTok ads without an organic page. If someone clicks on any of the branded elements in your ad (i.e. your profile picture), they’ll be taken straight to your website landing page. 

So what are you waiting for? If you’ve been running Facebook ads because that’s what you know and aren’t sure how or when you should be leveraging other paid social channels, drop us a line – we’d love to chat!