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Is Paid Social Media Advertising Really Worth It?

Is Paid Social Media Advertising Really Worth It?

Whether you love it or hate it, social media really is a revolutionary way to connect with an audience, convey a message, or stay in touch with friends. That said, it didn’t take very long before social’s popularity led invariably to the trend of social media advertising. The first wave came with company pages and profiles, which then evolved into the paid, campaign-based platforms we have today. Though all trends point to “Yes, invest more” when it comes to these social media advertising campaigns, the question of whether they’re worth your budget still stands.

Facebook's paid social media advertising platform.
To click or not to click?

This week, we break it down to see if it’s really worth it in the end.

Some Quick Facts About Social Media Advertising

First, let’s get some context by looking at the current scope of research on this subject.

  • Research from early 2014 found that paid social media ads lead to more customer conversions.
  • This same research also cited that this stat highly depended upon which touchpoint social was and the type of product being advertised.
  • Castrol reached over 14 million new social media users and increased its fan base over 6 times by focusing on targeted paid social ads.
  • And they’re not the only ones. A ton of companies are singing paid social’s praises.

The Drawbacks to Paid Social

While this may sound like a pretty open-and-shut case, that’s not the whole story. Paid social media advertising may seem like a one-way ticket to more customers (even if it’s indirectly), but there are some drawbacks to heading into the fray too hastily. Take these for instance:

  • Even though the results seem to be holding, recent polls show that most social media users hate seeing ads in their feeds.
  • Paid social media advertising is subject to the same strictures as any paid digital campaign. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can end up spending far too much for far too little results.
  • Another study showed that ads on Facebook are too new for a general consensus to be made as to their effectiveness.

So what’s the verdict? How can marketers maximize value from paid social media advertising? Is it worth the investment? While there’s no clear-cut answer to this question, here are some tips to help lead you in the right direction:

    • Do your research. The types of platforms you choose to advertise on, the content you choose to create, and even the goals you hope to achieve will all come into play well before you see your first paid social media click. Understand the options and what you hope to get out of your paid social media campaigns first, and you’ll go far.
Paid social media advertising on Twitter.
Promoted Tweets can help raise awareness in a variety of ways.
  • Run a test first. This tip definitely favors entrepreneurs and individuals, but it’s worth mentioning. Signing up for LinkedIn ads or running a Facebook campaign isn’t a life sentence. Set a maximum budget, set the campaign up, and evaluate it for 30, 60, or 90 days. If the results weren’t what you expected, move on. If you saw potential, change it up and make improvements next time.
  • Have a clear goal. Avoid campaign setups that are driven by shallow interactions (i.e. page likes or RTs). As an example, StumbleUpon Ads are focused on a URL hosted on your website, so the value is in the content itself, rather than how cleverly your ad copy is written. Make every decision in the context of the goals you determined at the outset. That way, they’ll never steer you wrong.
  • Measure everything. No marketing campaign is worth its salt if it can’t be measured in some way. Does your paid social media advertising platform support integrations with Google Analytics or your measurement suite of choice? Are you able to access information about ad interactions, audience demographics, and other key metrics? Always rely on data to guide your next move.

Have you had success running a paid social media advertising campaign? Share your story in the comments!

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