24th February 2022

What is Paid Social Media?

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In October 2021 the total number of social media users passed 4.5 billion. While this is a large number of users, organic social media reach has declined over the past few years leading marketers to branch into paid social media to support existing organic content. 

Paid social media are display adverts and sponsored placements that appear on social media platforms. Usually these platforms give you the ability to create, schedule and post your ad content. Using social media for advertising is a great way to target specific audiences and allows you to segment into demographics such as age, gender, location and interests. 

As well as specific targeting, paid social media also increases brand awareness by having ads repeated to potential customers, is a cost effective option as it runs a pay per click model so you only pay when users engage with your content, it allows you to re-engage with your following by retargeting existing customers. 

Just like paid search, paid social media gives you the ability to easily measure the success of your campaigns and their ROI. Paid social media advertising is also available in a range of formats to allow you to appeal to different audiences and their preferences.

While social media might be a popular way to spend your time, traditional advertisements such as TV ads and word of mouth are more popular than social media advertising, although social media networks are the second most prominent research channel with 42% of people using social media for product research.

In order to get the most of social media advertising you need to make sure you identify objectives and goals and decide what metric the campaign will be focusing on, this way you have a clear outline on what you are working towards and what supporting content and actions you will need to be successful.

 After this you will need to identify the social platforms you will be utilising, these will be dependent on your business and who you are looking to target, for example commercial businesses are B2B and would see more success in using Linkedin as their main platform rather than Pinterest or Instagram. 

The next step would be to identify your target audience using demographics such as age, gender and location. You could also target previous customers/clients as these leads are more likely to make another purchase. 

The last step would be to choose your content and decide what ad formats would work best for you and your audience. Different audiences digest ads in different ways. A younger audience is more likely to enjoy an interactive ad that is fun and engaging, while an older audience is looking for an ad to give them practical information so wouldn’t enjoy something interactive. After all these steps all that’s left to do is publish your ads and review to see if it’s achieving the desired results!

Like paid search, paid social media can be made in a range of different formats. The most common formats of social media ads are image, text and video ads. Image ads are very easy to produce and allow you to embed links directly to your website and these can be used on the majority of major social media platforms. Carousel ads give you the ability to showcase up to 10 images or videos, all with their own call to action buttons and individual links. These can be used to show prospective customers how your business or product works in a ‘how-to’ guide. 

Product ads link up Facebook’s Pixel in order to serve up whatever the user was looking at on your site or shows them best performing products. On Instagram a product ad can be seen tagged in organic content that links either to an Instagram marketplace or to your website. Interactive ads are used in order to generate interactions on your content – having a poll or mini game can keep people engaged in your ad for longer. 

Video ads are able to be used over all social media platforms and are the most popular ad format to utilise. While creating video ads it’s important to bear in mind that 85% of videos are watched with audio silenced due to Facebook’s autoplay feature. Text ads are a popular format on Twitter as these are a discrete format and ‘blend’ more into the platform.

Overall paid social media is a great avenue to use as it keeps your brand and content visible to new potential customers as well as existing followers. Making sure you’re using a range of ad formats makes sure your content is always fresh, engaging and digestible.