As the major social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat mature, their need to monetise their platforms becomes ever more important. You may have noticed that your organic social reach has dwindled over time; this is due to the major players ramping up their paid offering and tweaking their algorithms to lower organic reach. In the first few years of social media marketing, engagement and content were key; now, however, social has become an established channel for customer acquisition, remarketing, and engaging existing customers to support customer retention efforts.
It's cost effective
Paid Social can be more cost-effective than traditional media, or even other forms of PPC. You also have more control over your ad; for example, if for any reason you need to pause or take down your ads, you can do so without any lasting impression. Another advantage to paid social campaigns is, in some cases, you can see in real-time how effective your ad is and whether it's hitting your chosen key performance indicators (KPIs).
It can be highly targeted
Paid social can be highly targeted. Each social media platform will have its own algorithm and target settings depending on what information they ask or can gather about their users. For example, you can keep your targeting within certain geographical settings, such as only targeting people based in Essex, or you can aim your post at people in a specific life stage, like new parents for instance.
You can get your voice heard
Social media is fantastic for community engagement and management; and, while organic still plays a big part in this, using paid social to get your message out there can have advantages – especially from a PR point of view. It's worth noting that on Facebook, usually less than 20% of your organic posts are seen by those who've liked your page; so, if you have an important message you want to reach a wider audience (for example a product recall or to apologise for a technical difficulty or disruption) then a paid Facebook post could be the way to go, especially for B2C businesses. However, do remember that with paid posts, especially on Facebook, it is still possible for people to comment, so for any posts that deal with a sensitive issue, do be careful how it's worded to avoid a backlash.
You can amplify your content
You spend time, money on effort creating content for your marketing campaigns, but with so much content now online it can be hard to cut through the noise. Marrying content with paid social can be a way of getting your content amplified and seen by the right audience. For example, if you are a sports clothing company and have an interview with a famous marathon runner, who may also be your brand ambassador, you can use the targeting features to ensure your ad is served to people who like running or have run marathons.
As mentioned above, the big social media players are thought to have reduced the organic reach results over time to encourage brands and businesses to use their paid services – this is unlikely to change any time soon. The era of free social media is over and in order for most brands to succeed, you need to pay to play.