Paid Social-01

Social media has shifted drastically in a short period of time. Gone are the days of posting a Facebook update that reaches most of your fans organically. The chances of your Tweets being lost in your followers’ streams are higher than ever. With algorithms and the noise on social media, it has become extremely difficult to get people’s attention. That is unless you’re using paid social media.

Over the past few years, social networks like Facebook, and to a lesser extent, Twitter, have become known as “pay to play” platforms. Meaning if you want your posts to have a significant amount of reach, you need to buy advertising. While it’s still possible to have success on social media through organic reach, paid social strategies can be worth your time and money.

Most businesses are still hesitant to get started with paid social advertising. It’s new, non-traditional and we’ve gotten used to the idea of social media being a free way to market. But sometimes change is good.

If you’re a diehard organic social media marketer that refuses to pay for ads, here are 10 reasons you shouldn’t ignore paid social:

1. Paid Social Is Cost Effective

The biggest roadblock for people interested in getting started with any type of online advertising is the cost. That’s understandable. Just take a look at the suggested Google AdWords bids for legal-related terms.

AdWords Suggested Bid

Paid social changed the way that businesses look at ads. With platforms like Facebook and Twitter charging a fraction of the cost of traditional display ads, it’s very affordable to get started.

In one case study for a campaign with the North London Skydiving Centre, Facebook Ads were significantly cheaper than AdWords. The average cost per click for Facebook Ads was $0.38, while AdWords was $1.49.

If you are working with a modest budget and want to try your hand at paid advertising, give social media ads a try first.

2. Paid Social Delivers Great ROI

Unless your ads are driving revenue, they aren’t very effective. Paid social has been proven to deliver a great ROI for marketers. Digital Marketer ran a Promoted Tweets campaign that generated a 198% ROI.

Twitter Ads ROI

Samsung SDI achieved a 7 times higher ROI from LinkedIn Display Ads and SlideShare Content Ads.

The mix of content marketing and paid ads is a consistent theme for successful paid social media campaigns. Both case studies above involved creating content, then using ads to generate targeted traffic and leads.

Paid social also makes it much easier to track social media ROI, which is one of the biggest challenges small businesses have. You can finally quantify how much money you’re spending on a campaign and the amount of revenue you generated as a result.

3. Paid Social is Mobile

Paid social works because you’re marketing to an engaged audience. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a huge shift toward mobile.

Mobile vs Desktop Users

As an advertiser, you need to be in the same spot as your audience’s attention. What that means is you need to be where your audience spends the most time, and right now, that’s on mobile devices. Particularly, social media apps.

mobile device behavior

As phones continue to be the preferred choice for using the internet, mobile advertising is now more important than ever. As a result, banners and sidebar ads have been replaced by native ads. These are ads that fit and mimic the platform where they exist. Think Facebook sponsored posts, promoted Tweets and Instagram Ads. They look like the rest of the content in the apps, with the exception of “sponsored” text on them.

jaguar sponsored ad example

The natural look of the ads makes them less disruptive than a banner that sticks out like a sore thumb.

4. Paid Social is More Targeted

With organic social media posts, you have no control over who sees your content. Paid social lets you target a specific demographic, so you know exactly who’s seeing your Tweets and Facebook posts.

Facebook Ad Targeting

Social media targeting gives you the opportunity to create content for a specific type of user, and promote directly to them. The end result is qualified traffic that’s more likely to convert.

5. Paid Social Gives You More Reach

Organic reach on social media is dwindling and has been for quite some time. In March 2015, Facebook’s organic reach was as low as 2.6%.

facebook organic reach drop

Of course, there are some steps you can take to improve your organic reach. But in the end, it doesn’t compare to the reach you can achieve with paid social media ads.

With more platforms switching to an algorithm based feed, there are no guarantees that people who follow you will see your content. With paid social, you can immediately amplify the reach of your posts.

6. Paid Social Provides Quicker Results

Growing a following on social media 100% organically takes time. Trying to monetize your following once you build it takes even more time. Paid social accelerates the process.

Organic social media marketing involves a lot of one-to-one networking. Whether it’s finding influencers with a large following or taking time to reply to different people who could potentially become a follower, it’s extremely time consuming.

Compare that to paid social media marketing, where you create an ad and distribute it thousands of users simultaneously.

This doesn’t mean you should neglect the relationship building process. Continuously engaging with your new followers allows you to maintain the relationship and build a loyal community, rather than just a bunch of non-active followers.

7. Paid Social is Easy to Scale

Once you’ve created a paid social media campaign that works, it’s easy to scale up by increasing your daily ad spend or advertising to a slightly different audience.

It takes less than a minute to replicate an ad that works.

8. Paid Social Gives You More Data

The data you get from social media sites about the performance of your organic content is limited. However, once you become an advertiser on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks, you get access to more information.

Facebook lets you see your ad’s performance based on region, gender, time of day and other criteria that you can’t see for your organic posts.

FB Ad Reports

LinkedIn shows you impressions, engagement and even click demographics for your ads.

LinkedIn Ads Report

The data you collect will help you improve future ads, and also affect the direction of your organic social media content as well. For instance, if you notice a particular promoted post did well among your target audience, you can incorporate similar content in your social media calendar.

9. Paid Social Creates Brand Awareness

When you send a Tweet or publish an Instagram post, a majority of the people who see it will already be aware that your company exists since they’re following you. But what about the other 99% of users on any given social network that have never heard of your brand? Paid social puts your content in front of these people.

Brand awareness is important if you want to build a loyal customer base, particularly for millennials. Newscred found that 69% of millennials feel brand recognition is an important driver of brand loyalty.

Every impression your social media ads get is a step in the right direction, even if they don’t get clicked. The more often people see your brand, the more familiar they get with your company. It’s all about building equity with each person.

Remarketing has become insanely popular over the past few years for this exact reason. Remarketing or retargeting, allows you to show your social media advertising to people that have visited your website before.

Website visitors that have been retargeted convert better, become more familar with your brand and are more likely to click your ads.

Remarketing Statistics

Let’s say someone found one of your articles through a Google search one day. They read it, and exited your site immediately after. Unless they purchased something from you or joined your email list, they’re a missed opportunity. If you set up retargeting, you’d be able to display social media ads to them and stay fresh in their mind.

10. Most Brands Aren’t Using Paid Social Yet

One of the reasons social media advertising is cheaper than display ads on networks like AdWords is because fewer businesses are doing it. As the demand increases, so will the prices. Facebook Advertising has gradually increased in price, but it’s still a much cheaper option than most non-social advertising networks.

snapchat ad example

Platforms like Snapchat and even Pinterest are in the early stages of paid social. The ad above was used on the Earth Day feed in Snapchat to direct viewers already interested in the subject. It’s the perfect time to jump in and take advantage, since the risk is so low. Don’t wait until marketers are crowding the marketplace. Take action now.

Quick Tips for Profitable Social Media Ads

We realize paid social can be intimidating. And even though the costs are relatively low, you can still burn through a lot of money if you’re making mistakes. Here are some quick tips to help you create winning campaigns.

  • Make quality ads: Whether you’re creating a sidebar ad on Facebook or promoting a Tweet, focus on quality. Most social media advertising platforms factor in the quality of your ads when determining how much you pay per click. Also, the better your ads look, the higher they’ll perform. Consider hiring a professional copywriter and designer to get quality content.
  • Don’t neglect the organic side: Paid social is not a substitute for organic social media marketing. It’s used to complement your overall strategy. You should still post to all of your profiles like you normally would.
  • Only promote your best posts: When Facebook’s organic reach dropped, businesses started boosting as many posts as possible because they thought they had to. However, that’s generally a waste of money. Be strategic about which posts, Tweets or Pins your promote.
  • Target carefully: This tip is mainly for Facebook, but it’s useful for other platforms as well. Don’t just randomly pick interests and demographics to target. Think about the ad creative, landing page and what you’re promoting when you’re selecting an audience. Use features like Facebook’s Custom Audience or Twitter’s Tailored Audience when possible.
  • Aim for leads, not sales: In most industries, it’s a much better idea to create social media ads for the purpose of gathering leads than try to get someone to make a purchase. Use ads to promote a webinar, build your email list or other lead-generating content. People will be more likely to give you their email address than commit to a purchase after clicking an ad.
  • Split test: If you’re running any type of paid ads, you should be split testing. Change out the call to action, try a different color background and test every element possible to improve your ads.
  • Review your results: Analyzing the results of your ads is crucial. Don’t just brush over the numbers. Look at your CTR, impressions, reach and other metrics to find which ads are the best performers.

The Best of Both Worlds

A complete social media marketing strategy will be a mix of paid, owned and earned media. Think of ways you can integrate paid social media marketing into your existing plans to amplify your results.

How Social Media Analytics Help

On the other hand, you still need to track, measure and monitor your social media channels to ensure you’re going after the right audience.

social media analytics gif

If you decide to reach out to a specific audience, make sure you have the right social media analytics tools. With Sprout Social, you can have presentation-ready reports that are not only easily-digestible but proactive to your paid social efforts as well.

Have you been using paid social media marketing? Leave a comment and let us know what’s working for you!