Insights / advertising

Why Paid Social Media Deserves a Spot on Your Budget

Social media can be a crowded place, especially when you’re trying to get your message to the right audience. You’re not only competing against other brands on social media, you’re contending with each network’s ever-changing algorithms that dictate just how much reach your message has.

In fact, with Facebook’s recent changes to its algorithm, it’s going to be an even tougher space for brands to get their message out. However, there is hope if you have a strategy and the budget to support your social media program.

Long gone are the days of your organic social media content reaching everyone who liked your Facebook page or followed you on Twitter. These social media networks couldn’t self-sustain forever. The early adopter brands were able to establish a presence and build an audience before the networks started to clamp down on organic impressions and give consumers more choices about what content they get fed.

Social media itself was not always a significant line item on the budget, either. Early on, executives were skeptical about the ROI of this tactic. But once they caught on with consumers, the social networks shifted gears and started giving advertisers more options.

Now, social media merits its own strategy – from content, to analytics, to public relations, customer service and crisis management. Each network has its own advertising tools and is doing whatever it can to incentivize you to use them – most noticeably, suppressing organic reach. There’s also the drive to mobile, which continues to be digital’s hottest frontier and one where social media fits right in.

By the Numbers

paid social icons

  • Worldwide social network ad spending reached $16.10 billion in 2014, a 45.3% increase from 2013, according to the CMO Council.
  • Advertisers worldwide will spend $23.68 billion on paid media to reach consumers on social networks this year, a 33.5% increase from 2014. – eMarketer
  • One study found that paid social ads convert more customers than organic social ads.
  • About three quarters of all internet users are members of at least one social network.Search Engine Journal

The environment of paid social media is still young to have produced many studies on its overall effectiveness against different goals. The social networks themselves like to shake things up with new products and algorithm updates that change the rules so often, it takes enough effort just to keep on top of it.

The brands that want to succeed in the social marketplace have to adapt and take advantage of new opportunities instead of reminiscing about the old days when the social audience didn’t have a price tag on it yet.

The good news is that a healthy mix of organic and paid social media content works. As mentioned earlier, you don’t want to bombard your social media followers with non-stop advertising. They’ll smell this from a mile away and tune out. Remember the basic principles of listening and authenticity still apply here, despite the changing face of social media.

Having clearly defined goals with your paid strategy goes a long way. Not all of your social media content deserves to have budgets behind it, but if you want people to sign up for an event or to try your products and services, then this merits some paid support. We go deeper into the planning aspect in the third part of this series.

The Next Phase of Content

Content and social media go hand-in-hand. Content has been the principle way that brand pages attract attention and subscribers on social media. It’s what the users want to see, more than intrusive calls-to-action and promotions. The brands that are currently performing the best with social media are those who have invested in quality content.

Social media has been driving innovation and sheer volume in owned content. Now it’s time to see what content actually pays. Paid social media allows you to customize as you go and run tests and experiments to see what topics your followers want to read about, whether they’ll watch a video about the same topic, and which one gets shared more, for example.

The last thing you want is to hit upon a surprise success and then have too little left in the budget to throw some more weight behind it. That’s why paid social needs to be its own line item, not just considered a miscellaneous expense.

In the next two parts of this series, we compare and contrast several of the different kinds of advertising available on today’s social platforms, and guide you in planning and budgeting for paid social as part of your overall digital strategy.

If you have other questions about paid social and what your business could expect to see from it, leave a comment, Tweet us @Mason_Inc, or call us at 203.393.1101.