As of January 2020, more than half of the world’s population use the internet and 3.8 billion people use social media. You don’t really need to know much about marketing to understand that digital marketing, especially social media, is where it’s at.
Social media is a great tool to strengthen your brand but many social media channels now have a “pay-to-play” attitude towards businesses (I’m looking at you Facebook) and many times the algorithm won’t show your business’ content unless you put some dollars behind it. Enter digital advertising. Digital advertising is a great tool for small businesses to reach a wider audience and in comparison, to traditional advertising, the cost is relatively low. Facebook has long been the heavyweight of digital advertising, but the digital world is full of alternative options, some more or less suitable for your business depending on your target audience and objectives. We’ve summarised the main players and if they can be used for hospitality.
It is possible that Instagram shouldn’t get a section here as it’s owned by Facebook and one could argue it’s same-same but Instagram ads is a favourite of mine and I just couldn’t leave it out.
Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users and 500+ million people use stories every day. The platform is, as most people know by now, very visual and content really is king here. Instagram ads are easy to set up and offer a range of different ad formats so it comes as no surprise that 30% of Facebook’s advertising revenue comes from Instagram.
Instagram ads (both feed and stories) are great for hospitality as aesthetic cocktails and food photos tend to get peoples’ attention. In addition, Instagram has a broad demographic and allows for detailed targeting, making it easier for a venue to target people in the near vicinity. Just remember your Instagram ads are all about the content so make sure you carefully select appealing images and videos.
TikTok has been around since 2016 but it wasn’t until this year the app really kicked off. It’s now one of the most downloaded apps in the world and has 800 million users worldwide.
The backend for TikTok ads looks much like Facebook Ads Manager and includes three objectives (traffic, conversion and app install). You set an ad budget, choose your target audience and choose your placements (audience networks available in certain countries). You can use a single video or image (weird as TikTok doesn’t allow image ads..) for your ad and can quickly create a custom video using one of TikTok’s free templates.
To set up an ad on TikTok is easy but there are a number of things to consider before you even think about using it:
- The app has a somewhat younger audience so you will need to ask yourself if your targeted audience is likely to be there.
- Minimum $50 investment on campaign level and minimum $20 per day which is significantly higher than other networks’ minimum budget requirements.
- Targeting is limited to Custom Audiences (people that have previously interacted with your business) and Lookalike Audiences (people similar to the former).
- Location is limited to Australian states so not ideal for a small brick and mortar business but could definitely work if you have multiple venues.
Since launching in 2012, Snapchat has been hugely popular with 360 million monthly users and 3 billion ‘snaps’ created every day.
The process of setting up a Snapchat ad is very similar to Facebook ad and it allows you to select gender, age, location and interests, albeit the latter is somewhat limited from a hospitality point of view.
Much like TikTok, Snapchat has a young audience and you will need to carefully consider your customer base before spending your money on the app. If you run a nightclub popular among 18-20(ish) year old, are hosting an event that is likely to attract Snapchat’s audience or have an “instagrammable” dish AND have fun/engaging content, then why not give it a go. If you’re a pub that primarily attracts middle-aged men, not so much.
Key things to think about: your audience, who you’d like to attract (and are likely to be able to) and your content.
YouTube is the second most visited website in the world with 2 billion monthly active users and over 500 hours of video uploaded every day. Each visitor spends about 11 minutes on the site and YouTube made around $15 billion in ad revenue last year.
YouTube ads are managed via Google Ads (for those of you that don’t know, Google owns YouTube) and offer six different types of ads, including video, image and text ads. You can target ads to people based on Google search history (pretty cool if you ask me), by location, age and more. If you have an outstanding video that will immediately get peoples’ attention and you’ve got your targeting right, it doesn’t hurt to try!
LinkedIn has around 675 million users and is predominantly used for professional networking and B2B marketing. LinkedIn ads offer detailed targeting (we’re talking seniorities, industries and more) and are traditionally great for B2B lead generation. However, they are not necessarily the best investment for B2C marketing, especially not from a hospitality point of view.
Hear me out, most people use LinkedIn to connect with other professionals, learn more about companies, read industry news and look for jobs and may not be in the mindset of learning about a new happy hour or burger special. You are more likely to see ROI on other platforms for these types of ads but if you are advertising a function space, a Melbourne Cup event or Christmas Parties offers, LinkedIn may just be what you need, especially considering its detailed targeting options. Again, you’ll need to consider who you are advertising for and what you are advertising.
It’s not without reason that Facebook has a good reputation and HUGE ad revenue each year, it is a pretty great platform to use for ads but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the only one for you to use. If you know your audience, your offering and are willing to spend time and money trialling different platforms, I’d say go for it!
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