Social Media: You Get What You Pay For

By Jay Holdnick written about 3 months ago

As we enter into the second month of a new year, most of us have already shed our new year's resolutions. But in the interest of self-betterment, I suggest we all consider making another one: to get the most out of our social media initiatives.

We’ve talked about it for years: from way back in 2009 when you created your first business Twitter account, to your recently created company Snapchat account. For many of us, we see the value in social media and know we should be doing more with it, but we just haven't had the time or resources to create a plan and put it into action.

Well, there's no time like the present! Let’s highlight the value a good social media strategy can achieve:

  • Increased brand loyalty and awareness
  • Valuable customer insights obtained
  • Excellent customer experiences
  • Increased website traffic and search ranking

But that’s not all. According to HubSpot, while 92 percent of marketers agree that social media is important for their business because it increases the company’s exposure. The same survey revealed that nearly half of the marketers who have spent at least six hours a week on social media for the past year have seen significant lead generation increases that led to new partnerships gained.

I know what you’re thinking – six freaking hours on social media?! There goes your gym time and new year’s fitness resolution, right? Let’s be realistic - if your marketing team doesn’t have the time to increase your social media game, how can you better leverage social to increase your presence? That answer exists through paid social media.

One of the biggest misconceptions in marketing is that social media is “free.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. Content strategy, content creation, execution and monitoring all take a significant amount of time and effort (AKA budget). On top of that, consumers are being inundated with content on a daily basis. So how can you be sure your content is resonating with your target audience?

TrackMaven released an interesting study last year called the Content Marketing Paradox. The report noted that content output by brand increased by 35 percent, but consumption/engagement actually dropped by 17 percent.
Simply tweeting out promotional content won’t resonate with your audience anymore – heck, it may not even reach your target audience! Your social content needs to be engaging or well targeted. So how do you ensure you reach your target audience with valuable messages that resonate and translate into measurable results?

When it comes to social media, simply put – you gotta pay to play.

A well thought out and executed content strategy supplemented with a paid strategy is the gold standard of social marketing. But economically speaking, it isn’t always an option.

Because there is so much content out there, if you’re not well prepared with purposeful content, you won’t get noticed. However, paid social is quickly becoming a very reliable means of building a targeted and effective audience for your brand. Paid social, or social media advertising, is defined as any kind of paid content that lives on a social network.

According to Think Shift’s own Digital Lead, Kevin Gordon, paid content has equaled or surpassed organic content in penetration to the audience. This transition has occurred because the algorithms used by social channels now favor paid over organic content in their placement criteria. The algorithms also “reward” these ads with preferential exposure to your target audience.

In essence, social giants such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn reward the companies that are willing to make the appropriate investment in engagement. This model is really no different than paying for your keyword ads to appear at the top of the Google search page. Make no mistake: paid social is by no means a replacement to a sound content strategy; it’s simply an excellent supplement and one that should be utilized.

But is it affordable?

Yes. The most surprising part of paid social is its affordability and the fact that it is still relatively under-utilized. In fact, chances are that your competitors are not yet playing in this space. It is still deemed highly effective because it offers advantages in targeting, overall exposure and conversions, meaning that it’s an excellent investment.

IF you are still not convinced, consider this: 93% of the buying decisions of online shoppers is dependent on social media.

Now ready to give it a try? Here are four quick tips on using paid social to boost your content strategy:

1. Beta-Test with your existing content 
You’re likely already posting content on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn on a regular basis, some of these posts will resonate with followers while others won’t. Start tracking which posts are being clicked, liked, shared or commented on. These high-performing messages make the best candidates for social ads or "boosting."

2. Design your ads for mobile
Today, over 80% of social media interaction occurs on mobile devices. By the year 2020, this number will increase to nearly 90%. Do not lose sight of this fact and design your ads with a mobile-first mentality.

3. Refresh your ads on a regular basis
If the same ad continues to pop up in a social feed, it will have negative repercussions and may even result in a disengaged or lost follower.

4. Target away
Possibly the greatest feature for paid social is that it allows you to acutely target your audience. Whether that’s targeting individuals based on their follows or based on the juicy information located in their profile. Social offers you access to this information and all you need to do is cater your offering to their needs.

Blaming time and resourcing on an underachieving social or content strategy is no longer a viable excuse. The reasons to address any social shortfalls are clear and present as the benefits of executing a well thought out plan are plentiful. If you are struggling to get your strategy in order, we can help.