How to Use Social Media Data to Improve Paid Search Campaigns

By Jared Reed
Originally published on HubSpot, July 19, 2011

Sisyphus had it easier. Pay-per-click (PPC) has become so technical, that it’s hard to get a leg up as a newbie. Beginning at the dawn of Google, when I first got my feet wet with PPC, you could learn everything in an afternoon. These days, it seems like there’s a new management tool, tracking metric, or ad product springing up every hour.

To get a competitive edge, I strongly suggest using data from other sources to inform your PPC strategy. Today, we’ll specifically look at social media data sources.
Sure, you should spend time learning the tricks of the PPC trade, but investing your time in analyzing social media data will reward you and your clients handsomely. This new kid on the block and all her insider knowledge just might give you that extra boost you need to move ahead of the pack.

Social Media Monitoring

Social media monitoring programs now come in every size and price. But lucky for you, many monitoring tools are available to you free of charge.
The easiest way to monitor data for PPC campaign improvement is to create Google Alerts for your brand terms. Google Alerts are emails sent to you when Google finds new results -- such as web pages, newspaper articles, or blogs -- that match your search terms. Look for terms people use when referring to your products, brand, or services that aren’t being used in your PPC program. These keywords can often be a very rich source of additional traffic that can be bought at a much lower cost-per-click (CPC).
Your customers are literally telling you what PPC campaigns to create via social media channels.

Social Tags

Like social media monitoring, social tagging can be a goldmine of information. For example, marketers can review sites that use tags often to find new terms and phrases to add to their PPC mix.
Delicious is a social bookmarking site that utilizes user-generated tags in order to share links to a multitude of resources and information. Use the tag search function on Delicious to find new keywords for your PPC campaign.
More specifically, if I sell iPad accessories, a tag search reveals the usual keyword suspects like “case” and “keyboard.” However, the search results will also include other terms that I might not have considered, like “cool ipad accessories” or “ipad gadget accessories.”
Analyzing tags is a very manual process and can take some time, but your long tail traffic will benefit from terms that, over the long haul, can be a fire hose that's really cheap.


Many social media monitoring platforms offer demographic information such as age and location. Use this information to expand your PPC program by creating a geo-targeted campaign focused on areas that generate the most traffic to your social media site.
Facebook Insights offers some actionable, demographic data. Under Demographics, you can view visits to your page by country and city. Perhaps you have a disproportionate number of fans in Seattle, Washington or Dallas, Texas. Copy your national campaigns, optimize them for the local geo-modifiers and geo-target them.


Not only are people talking about you, but they are also talking about your competitors. See what they are saying in online social arenas. What do they like or not like about competitors? This is great data you can use in not only your keyword buy, but also your ad copy.
Let’s go back to the Google Alerts example. Set up alerts for your competitors’ brand terms, and see what people like or don’t like about their brand, products, or services. Perhaps people complain that your competitor’s customer service number is hard to find. Provided you have quality customer service available, create a PPC campaign or ad group centered on your customer service, and use the phone number in your ad copy.
As digital marketers, we are way beyond the time when we could just focus on one or two digital channels. Search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click, and social media all work together in a connected ecosystem of online finding, sharing, and discussing. Squeeze our every last piece of benefit for your PPC data.
Your customers are telling you what to do. Just listen.