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by Tom Davis

Do Social Ads Work for Small Business?

That is the exact headline from the first page of the Wall Street Journal's Marketplace section in early November (2013). I was stunned that the Journal would ask such a dumb question. I have ranted here before about the importance of asking the right question, but this brings us to a new level: irrelevance.

This was brought up during the buildup to the Twitter IPO and I am sure someone felt that it needed asked. But it did not. The first paragraph begins with the idea that Twitter is "hustling to attract and retain small businesses, a potentially lucrative source of advertising revenue." That is no doubt correct, but the size of a business is not the important aspect of a media buying decision. Most important is matching your potential customer base with the audienced reached by the media. They actually answered this question in the article — but they did not realize it. 

Simply put, the article showed a generally obvious conclusion: a business-to-business advertiser with a narrow audience and low-repeat sale product will likely have a tough time getting results from Twitter regardless of how much "cultivation" effort the business puts forth. The article pointed to a Long Island coffee shop that had great success building an audience and their ads were successful. Well, duh! Let's see, a broader general audience with a well defined geography and a produce many buy everyday.

It is not about the size of the business, it is about having a sense of your audience and knowing how they operate. That is where you have to start before doing any advertising.