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11 Platforms Outside of Facebook to Drive Traffic From

August 22, 2021

Last Sunday I asked everyone if they could take 2 min out to let me know what would be most helpful. Just under 2,000 people responded, and the most common was: where else should I be putting dollars to advertise? 

I started thinking about it a lot and landed on this punchline: the way we do "marketing" is changing.

The last decade of DTC advertising (specifically 2013-2018) were really nice. Facebook created a monstrous ad product that allowed us to reach virtually anyone. Within 30 minutes, you could have a pixel on your site (no need to verify it's even your site), an ad account setup, and begin seeing traffic come to your site at a very fair priced CPM. When it came to reporting we could look right at the Ads Manager dashboard, which sometimes could be even more accurate than GA, and you'd see that for every dollar you spent, there's a return. Everything just worked!!

Today, it's obviously much different. Even just getting pixels, domain verifications, an ad account that doesn't get disabled within 24 hours, or the way you verify your business to run ads are all factors that make today's marketing ops more complex. However, with any advance in modern society, there are always going to be new things that hinder the "good old days", and we can't change it. You can complain, but that's also not going to get you anywhere.

When I first got into DTC, I quickly learned that if you can figure out how to be contextual to the platform you distribute or show up in, you'll always do well. Similarly, when I think about new ad platforms, I thought, "Well, it's not that Facebook or Instagram don't work, it's that people aren't adapting." Let me explain.

People love Facebook ads because in theory it's easy to set up, the targeting capabilities are incredible, the list-matching is incomparable, and the best part is, your CFO or you, as a founder, can see the return right there. You don't have to run it through a data scientist, an analyst, or any fancy software — it's right there, under the ROAS column.

When you look at a platform adjacent to Facebook it feels inferior. Let's take TikTok for example, which I believe is one of the best opportunities for reach right now.

"I don't want to run on TikTok, their pixel is only last-click."

"The traffic on TikTok isn't that great, it only stays for 10 seconds."

"The audience is too young and they probably don't have any money to buy our stuff."

"We don't get much engagement on the ads we run on TikTok so we decided to scrap it."

Do you see the problem? It's actually not just specific to TikTok — the problem is that most people run ads on other platforms in the same way they run ads on Instagram. Have you ever seen a swipe up creative on a billboard? Or fast-cutting Instagram video as a TV ad?

You have to become adaptive to the way these platforms push out content, the culture within each platform (understanding the trends, the memes, the comment sections, the way the swiping works, etc), and then create experiences around that. 

If you run a fast-cutting Instagram ad designed for sound-off experience that goes to your homepage, and expect it to work on almost any other channel, you'll never find success. But maybe running an influencer video to a very simple landing page with 3 CTA options (view products, follow on instagram, enter your number for discounts) will yield you that return. One other punchline here is you will likely need to re-learn how to attribute revenue to ad spend.

Ad platforms give you the opportunity to start the conversation with a new customer, but they shouldn't be the only thing in your planned customer journey. If you can make it work that way, then that's great, but 99% of brands will need to make sure there is a proper journey after the social ad.

So that said, here are some incredible platforms that users are on, but many haven't gotten around to because it's "hard" and not as easy as FB ads. In each one, make sure that you are focused on what the context of the platform is, and that you are doing a good job of being present. It's like going into a new city or country — you need to be relevant there, not where you came from.

Next weekend I'll focus on how we use the platforms below in our marketing journeys. I'll also include any special tips, tricks, hacks, libraries of ads, good examples, or case studies from each platform that can be helpful. In the meantime, feel free to go through some of these on your own and reply with any specific questions. Anything you reply with helps the other 16,000 readers too.

Platforms to test into:

  • TikTok
  • Snapchat
  • Quora
  • Reddit
  • Product Hunt
  • Taboola/Outbrain

Some more channels, which have different platforms to choose from:

  • Direct publisher media buys (internet publisher sites and newsletters)
  • Podcasts
  • Display/Video
  • Influencers
  • Affiliate (bloggers, ambassadors, PR)

1 interesting question for you: how would you run an ad for this newsletter? What would be the hook to get someone to sign up in your opinion? You would know this better as the "consumer" of this "product" and I would really appreciate the help.