Organic reach on social media has been in a continual decline for some time and that trend shows no sign of abating anytime soon. Whereas, it wasn’t long ago that organic reach was so substantial and could create so much engagement — and ultimately generate income — on its own that it often made it worthwhile to hire someone to be paid to post on social media, that equation is now harder to reconcile.
Just five or six years ago, when considering their social media initiatives, it seems that most businesses would ponder the question, “is advertising worth it?” and decide against it, content to let their organic efforts do the heavy lifting.
Because of the consistent decline in organic reach across nearly all platforms, things have changed. For businesses of all sizes, investing in paid social media advertising has not only made up for the slack resulting in the decline of organic reach, but it has allowed them to actually expand their customer/client bases.
Affiliate marketers, historically very reliant on organic reach efforts to build their audiences, promote their products and generate revenue, saw their posts go out to fewer and fewer prospective audience members and were faced with a new challenge centered on how to get paid on social media. Paid social media marketing became the solution for many of them as well.
There are several reasons why paid social media proves to be so consistently effective when executed correctly, but its collective ability to precisely target paid advertisements to a thoroughly defined audience is certainly at the forefront.
The cost of social media marketing, even now, is also part of its appeal. While large corporations have long since entered the fray and have elevated costs from their bargain basement level of a few years ago, even a modestly funded company can still take advantage of paid social media marketing without having to invest at a level that could prove financially risky.
What is Paid Social Media?
Simply put, paid social media is encompassed by placing advertising on the various social media channels. For most advertisers, this paid content takes its place alongside organic content that’s still being created and scheduled and when properly formatted, effective paid social media advertising won’t compromise the user experience when it takes its place in the feed. This is by design.
Despite increasing levels of investment in paid social, the look of most social media users’ feeds hasn’t changed all that much over time, regardless of the platform you look at. This isn’t by accident. At its essence, social media still emphasizes the “social” aspect of its appeal. Users don’t go to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any other online destination to be sold to — they do so to stay in connection with family and friends.
This isn’t to say that platform users don’t want to hear from brands that they truly like — it’s just that they generally don’t want to hear from them in an overtly aggressive manner that would otherwise disrupt the appeal of their feed. Clear and easy to understand calls to action are an important aspect of any effective social media strategy, but savvy advertisers know that there’s a limit to just how much advertisements on social media should otherwise differ from organic posts.
If a particular advertiser is relatively unknown to the audience being targeted, this is even more important. Whereas a company advertising a product that’s already a household name and has a clearly established appeal may rely on previous branding efforts to shape audience perception so that it can go to a relatively hard-sell call to action without much build up, a company who pays for advertising to promote a lesser known product must establish plenty of trust and legitimacy first.
Once that trust and legitimacy have been established, there are a lot of upsides to paid social media, not the least of which is its ability to positively affect a business’s bottom line in a fairly short time. While it takes a lot of time for a business to build a large enough community on social media for organic posts to drive much traffic — especially with the dwindling organic reach we’re now seeing — paid social media traffic can come quickly, provided the fundamentals behind a social media campaign are solid and well-thought out.
Paid Social Media Strategy
Paid social media strategy is composed of a number of elements. Each of them must be executed properly for an advertiser to have a positive paid social experience.
There are several common denominators of effective paid social media campaigns. Concise and motivating copywriting is certainly one of them, as is a clearly defined call to action, but a given company’s initial attempts for both of these factors aren’t necessarily the ones that it will stick with. What constitutes an effective approach isn’t always readily apparent, so diligent testing is an important factor in getting optimum results.
Luckily, social media marketing cost is one of its key benefits, and because of it, paid social media advertising readily lends itself to thorough testing. Creating several ad sets that vary in terms of target demographic age, geographic location, or job title — while limiting that variation to only one factor — can be done without shelling out a lot of money. Conversely, because most other forms of advertising feature a substantially higher financial barrier to entry, this testing would be a costly proposition.
Paid Social Media Platforms
Where creative aspects are concerned, the factors that go into making a social media ad effective vary considerably. Effective visual elements are always important, but some platforms place a higher premium on them than do others. Some platforms are, by definition, focused on brief, to the point messages, while others more readily lend themselves to slightly longer messaging.
These platforms do have one important attribute in common: when utilized properly, they afford the ability to place precisely targeted ads on social media in front of platform users that sophisticated algorithms have determined to be most likely to take the action that the advertiser is looking for. This can’t be said for many forms of traditional advertising, such as outdoor — despite its other undeniably appealing aspects.
Let’s take a look at the aspects of some of the most popular social media platforms that distinguish them from the others on this list where advertising is concerned.
The first thing that stands out about Facebook is its sheer size. It’s got just under 3 billion users — a whopping 700 million more than YouTube, which is the second most popular of all the social media platforms. That’s a lot of potential consumers to target, although no company could realistically benefit by going after all of them.
Targeting is vitally important and, with such a large audience pool to start with, there are a lot of targeting options that will still result in plenty of viewers even for Facebook targeted ads with exacting parameters. Facebook is also arguably the most versatile platform as far as formatting is concerned. Even a cursory review of its paid advertising examples will reveal a variety of photos, videos and text combinations. Ads that spark engagement with users will nearly always yield the best results.
With 2 billion users of its own, Instagram has also become a social media advertising force to be reckoned with. The platform got into the advertising game a full six years later than did its digital stablemate, Facebook, and even to this day appears to feature a noticeably higher percentage of organic content. Nevertheless, paid media Instagram content in the form of Instagram targeted ads has proven effective for a wide variety of advertisers — especially if those advertisers are promoting a visually-oriented product.
Compelling visuals in the form of natural but scroll-stopping photos are essential here. Whereas Facebook ads may include appealing but slickly produced visuals and still be effective, that’s far less common on Instagram.
Boasting more than 400 million users, Twitter offers a sizable audience for advertisers. With its high premiums on both engagement and brevity, it’s a distinct animal and Twitter targeted ads aren’t likely to look like those on any of the other platforms — even though a clear call to action, concise, engaging copy and magnetic visuals are all important.
Twitter’s content features a consistently wide variety of topics, so many advertisers have found success by trying to tie into current events in their messaging. Companies also often use the platform as a customer service tool with their user base, so it’s not uncommon to see personalized communication coexist with advertising on a given feed.
With about 250,000,000 registered users, LinkedIn offers a potential audience that’s only about 8% that of Facebook’s, but it holds a distinct benefit in the form of its clearly defined, business-centric focus.
There’s no doubt that LinkedIn’s feed content has, of late, strayed into less weighty territory in the form of often fictional motivational stories and other posts that are transparent in their purpose of garnering responses while not offering much value. Nonetheless, the fact that LinkedIn’s audience members are generally on board to expand career opportunities, network with others in their industry and cite recent accomplishments means that for the right companies, LinkedIn targeted ads can be very effective for promoting either compelling B2B products or B2C products with a clearly business-centric orientation.
How to Run a Paid Social Campaign
Are you considering adding paid social media advertising to your marketing arsenal and are wondering how to run a paid social campaign? Creating, and then sticking to a fundamentally sound paid social strategy is vitally important. Let’s look at some of the facets involved.
Any solid paid social strategy should start with knowing the desired outcomes or goals. Ultimately, generating incremental revenue is the objective for most paid social campaigns, but the road to it may vary, as will the actual messaging of the social media advertising used. Much of this variation depends on where prospects reside in the advertiser’s marketing funnel. Messaging geared to someone unfamiliar with a product or service will differ from messaging directed toward prospects already thoroughly familiar with it, or existing customers being targeted for an additional purchase.
It’s essential to decide what channel will likely be most effective. Most social media marketers advise optimizing results on one channel before expanding to others. The type of product or service being marketed plays a large role in this. If it’s business-centric, LinkedIn might be the best option. If the product or service centers on aesthetics, Instagram might make more sense.
Once this has been established, knowing what product or service benefit resonates most with your prospects and then creating your visual and written content accordingly, comprise the next step. This requires some market research before the campaign is even created.
As far as the question, “How does advertising work on social media?” is concerned, the actual process is similar across most channels. Decide on the advertising objective, assign the campaign a name, set the budget, choose the right demographic and psychographic targeting options and placement — where applicable — then create the ad.
Once a campaign is underway, it’s important to continually analyze results, test variables one at a time and then make changes based on findings. Also, there’s no reason to abandon organic content efforts while a campaign is up and running — organic and paid content can complement each other nicely with the right planning. A cursory look at social media ads examples on the various channels will reveal that each has its way of indicating that a given ad includes paid promotion. Because of this delineation, it’s okay to push a little harder for a sale than might be acceptable for organic content, because a business’s followers will know that they’re not being bombarded by overly pushy posts. This is also one of the key benefits of paid social media advertising.
How Much Does Social Media Advertising Cost?
The answer to the question, “How much does it cost to advertise on social media?” is actually a bit difficult to answer. If we look at it in terms of what some corporate giants spend regularly to get maximum results, that amount is no doubt substantial. In 2020 alone, more than $130 billion was spent on social media advertising, with a lot of that coming from big name brands.
But the barrier to entry is very low where social media paid advertising is concerned. Even sole proprietors or small companies can get started for a modest sum — the minimum daily budget is only $5 on Facebook and Instagram. Even with its much more focused audience, LinkedIn advertising is also within the reach of most companies, requiring a minimum campaign budget of just $100 for new advertisers.
Get Paid Social Media Campaigns with Astoria Advertising Co.
With the right strategizing and rigorous testing, social media marketing can yield substantial results, so paid social media services are a valuable commodity. The caveat here, however, is that it takes practical experience and knowledge to get optimal results from paid social ads and marketing initiatives. Astoria Advertising Co. has that knowledge and experience and would welcome the opportunity to harness the power of social media marketing for your business.
Schedule your paid social media marketing consultation with Astoria Advertising Co. today!