Paid Social refers to the use of social media to distribute paid advertising. This can range from sponsored and boosted posts, images and video to more traditional display-type and banner ads. Most social media channels now offer some form of paid social - Facebook Ads, Twitter Promoted Tweets, LinkedIn Sponsored Updates and YouTube sponsored videos are all examples. Even Snapchat and Pinterest have paid social programs. Most of these ad platforms employ a modified version of the familiar pay-per-click model long used by Google and other search engines.
Paid social has several clear benefits that make it very attractive to users –
- Paid social is the most targeted advertising ever invented. All that awesome algorithmic power developed by companies like Facebook is focused on giving you access to very specific groups, based on location, interest patterns, psychographics, demographic and much, much more…
- It greatly increases your post’s reach beyond your existing network. This especially relevant today, because the algorithms of major social media channels are increasingly diminishing the effectiveness of organic (unpaid) posts.
- It isn’t a one-trick-pony. Unlike print, television or radio paid social can be used to meet a variety of marketing objectives (brand awareness, lead generation, direct response, market research), often simultaneously. It also easily integrates with CRMs, web pages and email campaigns.
- Finally, paid social is still relatively cost effective.
One downside of paid social is that actual conversion rate and return on investment (ROI) can be hard to track. Most channels offer a way to measure their own metrics, but it can be a challenge to collect information from multiple channels to create a meaningful big picture. However, ROI measurement tools are becoming more sophisticated as user demand for paid social steadily increases.