Why it’s worthwhile paying for social media advertising

Closeup of a mechanic using a tablet computer next to an open hood in an auto shop

Why it’s worthwhile paying for social media advertising

The days of using social media as a free advertising platform are over. Now it’s not enough to just tweet or post on your Facebook page; if you want to use social media to market your business and reach new customers, you’re going to have to pay. But don’t worry, paid social network advertising is easier and cheaper than you might think.

Here’s what you need to know:

Posting for free isn’t working any more

While Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been a great way for businesses to connect with current and future customers, the astronomic growth of the social media industry means social media sites now want businesses to pay for the exposure and reach they were previously getting for free.

These companies have changed their algorithms — meaning that even if you have thousands of followers and likes, your post or tweet will be seen by a fraction of the audience who saw it before. Instead, paid and promoted content is what people are going to see.

Using social media to share content and updates from your brand is still free, and does work to some extent, but “organic” posts — anything a business posts that it has not paid the social media network to boost or promote — now have an audience reach of between just two and 2.6 percent, even for companies with more than one million likes. In short, if you pay, you reach more people and reaching more people means more business.

Paying is worthwhile because it’s effective

Paid social media works. The best indicator of its effectiveness is that more than 90 percent of advertisers plan to run Facebook video ads next year. By June of 2014, nearly 80 percent of U.S. marketers were using promoted tweets, and social media ad spending is predicted to exceed $35 billion in 2017.

Paying for social media advertising means that you are not only reaching many more people but because social media ads are targeted, you’ll be reaching people who are more likely to be interested in your business.

The stats bear this out, too: promoted tweets have shown average engagement rates of one to three percent, which is much higher than traditional banner ads. Recall of ads from sponsored posts on Instagram is 2.9 times higher than for online advertising. And on Facebook, desktop ads have 8.1 times higher click-through rates and mobile ads are 9.1 times higher than normal web ads.

Social media advertising is targeted

It is easier than ever before to target your audience and potential customers. With paid social media advertising you can make sure your content is delivered to people based on their gender, age, location, interests and more, so the ads a social media user sees are more likely to be of interest to them and they are more likely to convert to a customer.

Using Facebook’s audience targeting tools, you can selectively advertise to only those demographics that make sense for your business, even down to their likes and interests. In terms of the tire industry, for example, if you are a Mississippi dealer promoting new high-performance tires, you might want to target men aged 25 to 45 who live in Mississippi and like motor racing.

Social media advertising is very affordable

There are lots of options for paid social media advertising and it’s also relatively inexpensive. On Facebook, for example, you can start with a budget as low as $5 per day. Social media advertising tools enable you to set a budget for your campaign and preview what results you can expect to see for your spend.

There are analytics too, so through trial and error you can see which sponsored posts are most effective and with which people. Offering good and interesting content is all well and good, but it won’t help your business unless the right people see it. And for a lot less than the cost of TV, print and traditional web advertising, you can make sure they do.

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