Insight May 15, 2017

Paid Social: What, Why, and How


Paid Social Media

By Anna Condon, Junior Copywriter

In the early days of social media, brands could rely on social channels to tap into a large pool of potential customers at a very low cost. With the rapidly growing user bases and relatively low barrier to entry, you could build a social media empire almost entirely through organic methods.

As the social landscape continues to evolve, both marketers and social networks have recognized the potential for profit – and the networks have made one thing very clear: Social media is no longer free.

Why should I develop a paid social strategy?
While it would be easy to blame the networks for pushing brands towards a “pay-to-play” model, the real reason for the growth of paid social stems from the exponential increase in content. The low barrier to entry on social platforms means there are more brands sharing more content than the average user can view.

Now, when you share a link to your latest blog post, you’re competing not only with photo albums, cat videos, and status updates from your potential new customers’ contacts, but also with new content from every other brand they’ve liked or followed.

Paid social offers advantages that cannot be achieved with organic methods, allowing you to:

  • Reach more potential customers and increase brand awareness.
  • Target specific audiences based on demographic, interests, behaviors, keywords, and more.
  • Amplify content that’s already performing well for even greater ROI.

How do I get started?
Relying on organic reach alone is no longer a viable option, so brands must develop a paid social strategy to ensure their message reaches the right audience. Here are three essential tips to help you get started:

  1. Define your goal. Social media isn’t a good channel to promote all your content. Instead, you’ll need to clearly define what you want to accomplish and select the right content (e.g. blog post, white paper, landing page, etc.) to help achieve that goal.
  2. Determine your target audience. Know thine audience. When you understand who it is you’re targeting and where they like to hang out (e.g. professionals tend to prefer LinkedIn), it becomes easier to determine which social channels are worth the investment.
  3. Decide your budget. Advertising on social media doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it’s best to start out with a small budget and see what has the biggest impact for your audience on each platform.
  4. Don’t neglect your organic content. It should go without saying that paid social should only be one aspect of your overall marketing plan. You still need great organic content to keep your followers engaged, or you shouldn’t be on social media. Paid social is just another tool to help you make the most of your organic efforts.