Paid Social: 4 Secrets Content Marketers Need To Know

paid social media advertising vpdm st. catharines

Paid social is not only a relatively new term, it’s a whole brand new concept that forces digital marketing agencies, large brands, and small local businesses to look at their social media marketing strategy moving forward into 2015. VPDM Digital takes a look at paid social media advertising and what content marketers need to know.

Stop Hatin’ On Paid Social Media Advertising

Have you been ignoring paid social media advertising? If so, you’ve been losing out on targeted custom audiences, social media remarketing, and reach like you saw back in the day when Facebook organic reach actually existed.

How much have you researched or experimented with paid social? If you’re thinking “not too much”, don’t worry, you’re likely not alone.

In this post I’d like to discuss paid social media advertising – a relatively new social marketing tactic that many progressive, forward thinking CMO’s, marketing managers, social media strategists, and business owners using to their advantage.


This tactic keeps you from blowing your budget by using marketing strategies that are 100% measurable and reach a potentially huge targeted and qualified audience.


Sprinklr, a New York City-based marketing tech firm has released a very useful whitepaper titled “Everything You Need To Know About Paid Social.” Any digital marketer or small business considering a paid social marketing strategy should download this, using the link at the end this post.

If you’re trying to understand paid social media marketing and why going your reach on social media platforms is challenging, keep reading. There are some key aspects of paid social that all content marketing professionals need to know.


Paid Social Media Advertising: What & Why

Let’s start by defining exactly what I’m referring to with “paid social.” Display ads, Facebook promoted posts, sponsored stores, Twitter’s promoted tweets, and promoted Instagrams are all examples of paid social.

Paid social is a growing trend. In 2013, 65% of marketers increased their social media advertising budgets and many companies are shifting budgets to paid social media ads from online and offline ad budgets.


the growth of paid social


It also should be interesting to note that paid social media ads are increasing being seen as an integrated, cross-platform marketing tactic that run in conjunction with a companies online and offline media.

“For example 66% of advertisers said they use paid social media combined with other online ads [online display (83%), online video (46%) and mobile (40%)], and 51% said they run it together with offline advertising [print (52%) and TV (37%)]. Agencies showed a similar pattern of usage.”


paid social integrated cross platform marketingsource

4 Things Content Marketers Need To Know About Paid Social


1. You Will Have To Pay To Play

It’s time to accept the reality. Facebook is a publicly owned company and social media marketing is not free. Our agency worked hard for 2+ years building a Facebook following of over 25,000 fans, organically. Yes, I said organically.

paid social is small changeThat is unheard of today. We can’t even reach more than 2% of the client’s now over 35,000 fans organically. If we want to reach that targeted, qualified and valuable following, we’re paying for it. Know what? we, and the client, are fine with that. Because it works.

It works because we understand content marketing and what our audience prefers to engage with. It works because we have a strategy in place for our paid social campaigns.

Juts a few short years atom social media advertising was largely ignored by users, so advertisers ignored it as well. We all know the social media world has chained over the years and will continue to in the years to come.

Today, a targeted and well researched paid social campaign is any brand’s best bet to build a qualified audience who wants to communicate with your brand and actually cares about what you have to say.

Algorithms Exist In Social Media Too

Algorithms aren’t for just Google search. Social media platforms use algorithms way more than you think. We already know about Facebook’s News Feed algorithm, that used to be called EdgeRank but now is just known as the News Feed algorithm.

facebook search algorithmFacebook limits and chooses what you see in your News Feed based on its algorithm. Twitter will be doing this soon – trust me on this.

Why is this happening? Here’s what the Sprinklr report had to say:

“The average user is potentially exposed to 1,500 stories every time they log onto Facebook. Super social users are exposed to 15,000 stories. All of these stories compete against one another for users’ newsfeeds and attention spans.

Rather than exposing users to every update, Facebook’s new algorithm filters newsfeeds using 100,000 different factors to decide which posts will get prime real estate on timelines and which ones will fade into the background. Consider it Darwinism in the social age.”

Interesting huh?

A brand can only survive and succeed with social media marketing if they have a solid, targeted paid social strategy, to a qualified audience, that is benign managed daily. These brands must create and publish useful and relevant quality content, and pay to get it into qualified users timeline’s.

The key is social media management and engagement. You need a solid team – internal or external – that understand social media audiences and how to maximize each platform for each specific segment.


2. There Is Huge Opportunity In Paid Social

Paid social offers brands an untapped and qualified market with many advantages that simply can not be achieved via organic methods. You’re missing the boat but it’s not too late to jump on board.

For example, how would you like to increase the number of eyeballs viewing and consuming your content? With organic social, time is not on your side. It takes a long time and your following and trust will be built gradually over time.

Paid social can give you the qualified reach you need…now.

The qualified traffic should be the biggest motivator. I explain it this way to our clients: Organic social, or “organic” by definition, spreads on it’s own, grows on it’s own. How do you even know that your intended audience is consuming your content?

With paid social, you have several deep targeting options to reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions of qualified people. You can ensure the right people are seeing your content at the right time.


3. You Can’t Ignore The Stats

Are you sitting down? You should be before reading this. Check this out, the paid social media audience totals 4.2BN users across 8 social media platforms.

+ Facebook: 1.3BN monthly active users (MAUs) exposed to ads in their News Feeds.

+ YouTube: 1.3BN MAUs exposed to video ads.

+ LinkedIn: 200M MAUs exposed to ads via sponsored updates.

+ Twitter: 260M MAUs seeing promoted tweets in their timeline.

+ Tumblr: 48 MAUs see ads in their Feed.

+ Pinterest: 60M MAU see promoted Pins.

+ Google+: 830M MAU’s (estimated) seeing ads

+ Instagram: 200M MAUs are seeing the new Instagram ads.

That’s a ton of people, some who clearly will be interested in your products. You know you need to reach them. Paid social is your best bet.

Motivating Fact: The paid social audience has doubled every two years since 2005. If it stays at this rate, by 2016 the paid social audience will reach 8BN by 2016 and span 10 platforms.


4. Paid Social Is More Than Facebook & Twitter

And LinkedIn as well. Sure Facebook may be the largest social network and you should certainly have some ficus there, but it’s important to understand that there are other platforms that have awesome advertising products that may even fit your audience better.


the new players in paid social media advertising source

You can see that Instagram is the fast growing network globally. It’s growing faster than Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and more. Over the last 6 months Instagram grew 23%. At this rate it should have over 302 million users by next year.

Why is Instagram important?

instagram logo“Instagram is the No. 1 social network for delivering engagement, according to a recent report
by Forrester – and by quite a landslide.

The social network delivers 58 times more brand
engagement than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.

Who’s engaging with brands
on Instagram? Millennials: the next generation of spenders.

Instagram is different from other social platforms; there aren’t any clickthroughs or actions
beyond viewing, liking or sharing a post.

This means campaigns are purely for branding and
they are measured based on reach, ad recall and awareness.”

Don’t Forget About Pinterest

pinterest logoWhat’s most interesting in the Sprinklr report is that it’s not user or brand based. Instead, this social platform is object-based.

It’s rare for users to like or follow brands but it’s very likely, if your images are captivating enough, that Pinners will share/re-pin your content.

It’s for this reason that any brand who has beautiful and engaging products to showcase to take advantage of Pinterest and all its paid social opportunities.

The news just gets better…

According to the Sprinklr report, Pinterest’s users are the decision makers of the family. The study also shows that Pinterest users have money to spend and are not frugal about it.


The Wrap

Social media is perpetually evolving. It always will be. The best strategy for a brand to start with is simply to adapt. Paid social is here to stay. With declining organic reach, if you want to reach a television size audience, on a much more reasonable budget, paid social should be your strategy.

It’s understandable that this shift from organic social to paid social will be hard for many brands and businesses to swallow, but as we stated above, it is what it is and today, you must pay to play. But it’s worth it!

If you publish content in a forest or to your social media fans and followers does anybody read it? If you’re using organic tactics only, the chances are no one is seeing, hearing, reading, or consuming your content. So what kind of impact is all that content creation having and what sort of ROI can you expect.

You likely already know the answers to that.


Do you want some help with your content marketing
or social media advertising strategy?

We’d love to help you grow your business using content + search + social, the 3 pillars of digital marketing.

Contact us today and ask for a free basic website marketing and SEO audit.

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