The power of social media stretches beyond organic posts. It’s time to combine what you know about advertising and effective targeting and bring your destination marketing organization (DMO) along as we elevate your next paid social strategy into something that will drive results.
See how to do it in five simple ways:
Have a Plan
No advertising is better than unintentional advertising. Jump into paid social like you would any other marketing strategy, one with a goal. Are you aiming to drive traffic to your website? Are you only focused on clicks? Or maybe you want maximum hotel booking or e-newsletter sign-ups. Every DMO has a series of measurable goals they aim to reach, which are the ticket to a successful paid social framework.
Paid Instagram post created for Visit Wausau, Wisconsin
Test Ad Placements
With your plan in hand, you’re ready to start putting your ads out onto the internet. Understanding social media, its algorithms, and ever-changing ‘best practices’ highest results will come from testing.
Over time, the highest clickthrough rate (CTR) and lowest cost per click (CPC) have proven to be from Facebook Feed placements. However, if you’re a DMO targeting a younger, more video-centric audience, then Instagram Feed, Stories, and Reels may have the highest return on ad spend (ROAS). Be open to ad performance fluctuations for the first 60 days, but truthfully, it will always be a learning experience.
Reflect Your Destination
At the end of the day, we’re aiming to draw people to visit your destination — what better way to do that than by featuring the natural beauty of where you are? Utilize user-generated content (UGC) if you have it, and think proactively about photo opportunities to hold onto when you’re out of season and preparing for the year ahead. More than the photo, think about the way you’re writing your ads. Are you a laid-back destination that can talk to visitors like a cousin? Or maybe you’re a little more formal and need to use fewer emojis. Regardless, photos and language reflecting who and where you are will drive interest.
Paid LinkedIn posts created for Travel Lane County, Oregon.
Target With a Purpose
Like every piece of marketing, social media ads have a lot of steps, from setting the budget, time frame, UTM parameters, target, placements, and copy, to creative. There are many ways to end up in a rabbit hole or confused or unsure if you’re doing it quite right.
Time and time again, I find myself answering, “How do we know it’s going to where we want?” The answer comes down to targeting. Just because you’re running paid social does not mean everyone on social media sees your ad. Let’s be real — nobody's budget is that big. The three opportunities to scale who sees (or doesn’t see) your ad come from geo-targeting: set your location, age range, and detail targeting: determine the interests of the people who might like what you’re promoting. Using these well will help you spend your money well by showing your ad to those most interested.
An effective paid social strategy will drive likes, comments, and shares. Make sure someone on your team is ready to answer lingering questions, pipe up with suggestions, or deflect misunderstandings. When visitors see DMO interactions, they feel seen and important, like they’re more than ‘just another visitor.’ Who doesn’t want their visitors to feel that way?
By following these five simple ways to boost your paid social strategy, your DMO should see invigorated results. Remember to have a plan, test ad placements, reflect your destination, target with a purpose, and interact with your audience. Start experimenting today and see the difference it can make for your brand.
Paid Facebook posts created for Bishop, California.