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Should You Use Paid Social Media in Your Campaigns?

Paid social media is a great tool for boosting your campaigns on popular social channels. Our San Francisco area social media team does not recommend that you rely solely on paid social to establish an audience, but we do suggest that you use it as a way to supplement your organic audience building efforts. The best way to use paid social is to use it as a cross-platform marketing technique, leveraging it alongside content marketing to promote yourself on social media sites to gain shares and links, and emphasizing the social channels where your target audience most frequently gathers.

Who else uses paid social media as a secondary strategy in their campaigns? According to a recent Nielsen poll, 66% of advertisers claimed to use paid social media combined with other forms of online advertising. They use paid social as a way to support opportunities such as:

  • Display ads (83%)
  • Video (46%)
  • Mobile (40%)

Some experts have observed that because paid links are no longer acceptable, paid social is a worthy replacement. Their idea is this: Now that Google penalizes sites that purchase backlinks, webmasters can create content and pay to promote it on social media sites, which will hopefully generate shares and links. Some have even called paid social a way to “legally” pay for links, because you are paying for a post that is likely to result in getting the links you want. True, your initial post was paid for – but once influential users begin sharing it, the rest is all organic.

What are the best paid social opportunities?

The granddaddy of paid social media is Facebook’s Promoted Posts. The program has its pros and cons; there’s no denying it offers a small investment opportunity that makes paid social affordable, but critics claim it is difficult for brands to get longevity out of the posts they are paying to promote. Here is some additional analysis on Promoted Posts, which explains some of the benefits and drawbacks.

Twitter offers promoted Tweets, which the microblogging network calls “ordinary Tweets purchased by advertisers who want to reach a wider group of users or to spark engagement from their existing followers.” They are labeled as promoted, just as Facebook Promoted Posts are. Twitter also bills Promoted Tweets as a way to drive traffic to your best content, offer coupons and deals on Twitter, and expand the reach of your exclusive content, such as white papers.

One of the most recent channels to throw its hat into the paid social ring is LinkedIn, which now offers Sponsored Updates. The professional networking site is telling users that by paying for their content to appear as updates in user’s feeds, they can quickly “watch that content spread via the peer sharing that occurs naturally on LinkedIn.”

How should you choose a paid social media opportunity?

The idea behind all these paid social opportunities is the same: Pay for the promotion of select status updates, and receive the benefits of the organic shares and links that will follow. How you decide which one is right for your specific campaign should depend on which channels your audience spends most of their time – or, at least, which channel they spend most of their time looking for products and services like yours. Custom-tailoring your brand’s strategy around the channels your audience is most likely to use, is key in maximizing your return on investment. Once you’re seeing some returns on your paid social posts investment, then can you more adeptly target your “fringe audience” on other channels offering paid social advertising.

If your business enjoys a customer base that prefers Twitter, then Promoted Tweets may be your best bet. If you cater to a mass affluent audience that consumes industry-related content on LinkedIn, that may be the better way to go. Facebook Promoted Posts are great for local businesses, because people are apt to share specials, sales and other news from local businesses they find on Facebook.

Many brands are unsure how to best allocate their social media budgets. That is why the services of a competent social media agency can be highly valuable when you’re seeking out paid social opportunities. Crest Media, an experienced San Francisco social media firm, will be glad to help you weigh all of your paid social options.

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