Social Media Ads Viral Marketing

Let’s do a quick recap.

We’re currently going over all the different ways non-viral marketing sources can help fuel your viral marketing engine. So far we’ve tackled:

Now we turn our attention to another form of non-viral advertising. One that was seemingly custom built for your viral engine.

Social Media Ads and Banners: The Resurgence of Display Marketing


Thanks to the proliferation of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, social media ads are now a thing. A really, really big thing.

As a result, display advertising – which briefly took a hit in favor of SEM – is now back in a major way.

(For those of you who don’t know, Display Ads are advertising done through banners or other ad formats made of text, images, flash, video and audio that are shown on websites and apps.)

In fact, now that Google Display Network and the hundreds of other smaller web and mobile display advertising networks are on the rise, display advertising is the primary form of advertising on the Internet today.

Get Granular With Your Targeting


The real magic in social and display advertising is in the specificity of its targeting.

For better or worse (though for us marketers and growth engineers it’s definitely for the better), this magic is thanks in no small part to the mass amounts of data social media platforms collect from its users.

As a result, no matter what audience segment you want to target, you can expose ads to those people. Want to reach men between the ages of 19 and 31 who like carving Lord of the Rings figurines out of carrots, and live in Cincinnati? Done.

And if you gather even one piece of information from those folks, you can then target and retarget them even more specifically based on what they’ve done while interacting with your product.

The resulting potential for both increased growth and conversions is truly astounding.

Display Advertising and Virality


Thanks to absurdly granular targeting, and the slightly newer “custom audience” functionality that various social media ads now offer, there are three main ways social and display advertising can be tied directly into your viral loop:

  1. The ad itself can spark online viral word of mouth. For example, TeeSpring has become famous for their “name segmentation.” Since they have a product that is ultra-personalized to the user (think tee shirts with a person’s name on them), their team regularly creates hundreds of targeted ads that appear with certain first and last names. When prospective customers see these ads, they’re often a bit spooked because they’ve never seen an ad with their name in it before – and they tell others about it.
  2. You can retarget users who have gone through most of your viral loop, but haven’t finished the final step, by showing them an ad meant specifically to showcase your viral value. For many of those users, they simply didn’t send the invite because something else came up. They meant to get back to it, but just never did. By giving them another onramp, you can ensure more of them complete the process. This will increase your i value, and possibly even improve your average viral cycle time.
  3. With social media ads, you can target users who have been invited to your product by friends, but have not yet accepted the invite. (Crazy, right?) By saving the email or phone number a user enters into your application when inviting friends, you can begin showing highly-targeted ads to that prospective user. Remember, this person has not yet granted you their trust to actually message them – it was their friend who did that. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t show them ads where other companies would anyway. Some may contest this, but I personally don’t view it as a breach in privacy. Just another form of awesome targeting. If done well, this will help you increase your conv% value, thereby increasing your K value.

At the end of the day, social media ads and display advertising offer so much power because of the targeting options they offer.

Getting your ads in front of people is never hard. Getting your ads in front of the RIGHT people is far more difficult. This is the primary puzzle most digital marketers are always trying to solve. And it’s something your viral engine can greatly benefit from by mastering social media ads.

What’s Next


We’ve now covered two very effective forms of non-viral online advertising for fueling your virality. But not all your non-viral marketing needs to be done online. In fact, there’s a whole world out there just waiting to hear about your awesome new product that aren’t whiling away their days staring at a screen.

I’ll show how to get their attention in our next chapter.


Want to See How American Apparel Used Offline Advertising and Sex as a Viral Weapon?

Back in the day there was no such thing as online or offline advertising. There was just advertising. Since then, the rise of the Interwebs has made selling offline a risky business. But companies like American Apparel are showing that with a little creativity (and provocativeness) doing so can pay off big.


Travis Steffen
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