Why pay for social media?

By guest blogger Ivan Serrano

If you’re trying to market via social media, you probably go through a process similar to this:ball labeled with social media icons in a palm

  1. Identify your audience
  2. Optimize your content for SEO
  3. Add some original images
  4. Promote via owned media channels
  5. Pray for traffic

However, as you might have already learned to your regret, that isn’t enough. Without a proper distribution strategy, even the best content will go unnoticed. During the initial release of new content, you generally will see an uptick in traffic thanks to your social media efforts, but it will quickly die down.

In fact, the average shelf life of a link on Facebook is around 30 minutes while Twitter is even shorter at just 18 minutes. If you want to have more than just your couple hours of fame, it might be time to look into paid social amplification. Paid social amplification is one of the best ways to reach a wider audience and form a strong connection with current and prospective customers.

What is paid social amplification?

Every social media site offers a way for you to promote your updates or profile to your target demographic. At first glance these social ads might just seem like standard advertising, but they offer much more. When utilized properly, social ads are an excellent way to amplify the reach of your content and ultimately grow your community. They allow you to advertise your content only to people who would find it relevant and interesting due to these firms’ highly advanced targeting. You can narrow down your demographics to age and location of course, but for best results you can whittle the field even further through implicit interest and even psychographics. (Psychographics is the study of the interaction of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests and lifestyles.)

The best part about paid social amplification is the price tag. You can set exactly how much you want to spend daily, making it affordable even for small businesses. Of course, the more you pay, the higher your reach, but even $5 a day can get your content in front of thousands of people.

Getting started

Your social amplification strategy should start well before you pay for an ad. To get the best ROI, first figure out what you want your ads to accomplish. Common goals include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Generating interest and engagement
  • Improving conversions
  • Increasing sales
  • Creating brand loyalty

Once you have established your goal, you can then easily track certain key metrics such as impressions, reach, CTR and sales to see how successfully you have reached your target audience. If you are not getting the numbers you expect from the ads, you can adjust the text of your ad or images accordingly. Not only will this improve your current campaign, it will also provide insight on how to conduct future campaigns.

But which channel to use?

There are dozens of options for paid social amplification, which can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the social ad scene. Instead of spreading yourself thin across several channels, find out where your target demographic spends the majority of their time and focus your efforts there. Some of the more popular choices are:

  • Facebook. As the number one social media platform in the world, Facebook boasts one of the most diverse demographics among social networks. Of course, with so many people posting updates every day, there’s a good chance your posts won’t even get seen by your fans. Facebook addresses this issue with their promoted ads. Not to be confused with the “Boost Posts” option, Facebook ads give you a high level of control over the audience you target for your ads. You can promote to existing fans, friends of fans and even lookalikes to create new connections and reinforce old ones.
  • Twitter. The lifespan of a tweet is incredibly short, no surprise considering there are 500 million Tweets sent out every day. Twitter offers two options: promoted tweets or trends. Promoted tweets allow you to advertise your specific tweet via interest targeting, thus increasing your reach. Promoted trends, on the other hand, helps drive engagement to a specific hashtag and generates interest in your brand.
  • Google+. Google might be best known for their search engine, but they also have an incredibly robust ad network. If you’re a Google Plus user, you can now take advantage of their network with Google+ Post ads. Unlike other social networks, your promoted posts will appear on third-party sites as part of the Google ad network. As there are millions of sites taking part in Google AdSense, +Post ads give you the biggest potential reach.
  • Outbrain. Unlike the other three services, Outbrain is not related to a social network. Instead, it is a content promotion ad network that has partnered with many well-known sites like CNN and Slate. This service will allow you to advertise your content on related sites and blogs for increased audience development.

Good luck!

Ivan Serrano is a journalist from San Jose, Calif., who writes on a multitude of topics but whose passion is social media. See more of his work on Google+.