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3 Paid Social Changes That Yielded Major Results

I’m constantly looking at ways to improve our paid social media strategy at Rackspace, the #1 managed cloud company, to make sure we get the best results with the money we spend.

After some experimentation, we’ve made three major changes to how we support paid social marketing campaigns, depending on the desired outcome. While we are a B2B tech company, I think that these results have wide applications to other industries as well.

1. Generating Prospects: LinkedIn


LinkedIn Chocolates by Nan Palmero via Flickr CC
LinkedIn Chocolates by Nan Palmero via Flickr CC

Generating qualified leads to pass over to the sales team is an important function of any marketing team. Social marketing has a direct role in facilitating this, by generating email sign-ups for “gated content”: things like webinars or white papers that require an email address to view. These email addresses become prospects that can then be nurtured to become qualified leads.

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My team takes a direct role in generating website traffic to our marketing team’s gated content. While website traffic metrics such as click-through rate (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) are important, the ultimate metric that we are looking to minimize is cost per prospect (CPP). In other words, we want to find the most economical way to get a qualified person to give us an email address.

Between Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, our results revealed that LinkedIn was the winner on the lowest cost to get an email address.

Facebook was roughly 40% more expensive for us than LinkedIn, whereas Twitter was nearly 5X as expensive to get a prospect. What’s interesting is that LinkedIn typically carries a CPC that is anywhere from 4–8x that of Facebook and Twitter.

The big takeaway is this: While LinkedIn is more expensive to get people to click on a landing page link, the traffic that comes in is more qualified and interested in trading an email address for the gated content.

The Social Marketer’s Guide to Social Media ROI

When it comes to ROI on gated content and generating prospects for tech B2B, LinkedIn is king.

2. Website Clicks: Facebook

Facebook HQ by Isriya Paireepairit via Flickr CC
Facebook HQ by Isriya Paireepairit via Flickr CC

However, in social marketing we aren’t always looking to get a person to provide an email address. Sometimes we just want them to read an article and get them to become aware of Rackspace and our services. This allows us to kind of “warm up” that person, so when they see a gated piece of content they are inclined to provide an email address.

In this case, the high cost per click of LinkedIn doesn’t make sense—why would I pay upwards of 10x more than Facebook just for someone to read an article? Instead, we need to lower that price significantly, since we are just looking to generate awareness.

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While we’ve primarily used Twitter for this capacity, we’ve found that Facebook has almost doubled the CTR at half the CPC! This is great news because we are able to serve up more impressions to people who care.

So why would LinkedIn be better at generating successful form fills and Facebook be better at website clicks? We are in a very specific business that markets to specific skills—we are not a consumer brand like Oreos, but a B2B tech brand.

Consequently, the quality of targeting matters and, in my experience, Facebook and LinkedIn just do it better by default. By the nature of how profiles on the social networks are set up, Facebook and LinkedIn can tap more directly into who the person is based on the information they provide. Twitter’s interest, keyword, and follower targeting, on the other hand, are far less precise.

3. Event Marketing: Twitter

Twitter Buttons at OSCON by Garrett Heath via Flickr CC
Twitter Buttons at OSCON by Garrett Heath via Flickr CC

Twitter rules the roost when it comes to live event marketing. We have had an incredible amount of success spreading our message at events like FutureStack, OpenStack Summit, AWS re:Invent, and Rackspace::Solve using Twitter. People flock to Twitter to monitor the conversation of a conference, and we want to make sure that we are present there.

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LinkedIn is just not well-suited for this purpose, because their geographical targeting is tied directly to where your company is located, rather than where you happen to be. And while Facebook has the capabilities, their ad approval process is more onerous. In one case, we were left in a lurch when one of our ads was erroneously rejected and we couldn’t get it back online in time for the event.

These are the three key changes we’ve made with paid social marketing midway through 2016. Like most things, it comes down to having clear objectives, understanding the best tool for the job, and then using it appropriately. You wouldn’t use a chainsaw to hammer a nail, but it’s great for sawing logs. We’ve also made some changes to our organic strategy, and if you’re curious about them, you can check them out on

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Garrett Heath

Garrett Heath works as a social marketer for Rackspace, the #1 managed cloud company. He has previous experience as a content marketer and a technical project manager, maintains a blog on the food and culture of San Antonio and is an inventor of the Pi Pie Pan . You can find him on Twitter at @pinojo

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