When Investing in Paid Social Makes Sense

April 25, 2016

There’s no doubt that for many marketers and decision makers, the allure of crafting a campaign for social media is the cost, or rather the lack thereof. Using social media to market for free is a natural draw for cost-conscious organizations looking to build online awareness for their brand. That said, social networks are businesses, and in looking to turn a profit they’ve built sophisticated ad platforms many advertisers have taken advantage of when crafting their social media strategies. But when does it make sense to consider paid social as an area of investment? Below you’ll find four situations I’ve encountered that help answer that question.

1. An alternative to expensive market research
One look at your Facebook feed will remind you that users on social media have no trouble expressing their opinions. What can seem to be a nuisance at times (doubly so in a heated political season) can also be a benefit to marketers searching for an unvarnished point of view. While you could directly ask questions to your organic social following, paid social comes with additional benefits.

First, a paid social campaign can be significantly cheaper, and less time consuming, than hiring a marketing research firm. By connecting a paid social campaign to an online survey or lead generation page, you can rapidly test whether an idea is worth pursuing, even providing a reason to follow-up with focus groups or one-on-one interviews

The other benefit of paid social comes by way of the mountains of information social networks collect on their users — the ability to target a specific audience. If you’re interested in testing a campaign message on a particular audience segment, such as age, gender or income level, then you can set up ads to specifically target that group in minutes. And as a bonus, you may increase your social circle.

SEE ALSO: Why B2B Brands Should Embrace Social Media

2. Advertising to a targeted location, demographic or interest
Building on the concept of audience targeting, paid social tools are a worthwhile investment for businesses looking to get their advertising in front of individuals in a specific location or demographic. In fact, social networks have become so sophisticated at knowing their users that they’re able to segment them into audience profiles, such as “affluent homeowner” or “people that donate to environmental causes.”

For example, Tenet’s digital marketing campaign for the Council for International Education Exchange focused on increasing the organization’s study abroad enrollment through paid social advertising. Ad buys were made on social networks that college students were likely to log onto, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and made extensive use of those networks’ ad targeting capabilities. Students on the campuses of six universities in California — where the council’s programs were undersubscribed — were geotargeted for ad delivery. The result was a lead generation rate of more than 17%, giving CIEE confidence in rolling out the campaign nationwide.

Read the full article on Branding Magazine.

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