Paid social, also known as social media advertising, is a form of digital marketing where a marketer places an advert or boosts an organic post with spend across any social media platforms. This could include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube (although this is run through google ads) or any other social network.
As touched on previously, paid social media can be done in one of two ways. Firstly, it can be done by creating a brand new bespoke ad which doesn’t appear on the companies social feed, it will just display to potential customers on their own feed as an advert. The second way is a company can choose to “boost” an organic post that they’ve written, in order to increase the reach of the post to a wider audience.
To create a paid social campaign you’ll need a business page on the social media platform that you’re looking to advertise on. For the best results you’ll then need a manager account - this is a little more complicated to set-up, but will allow you to take advantage of extensive targeting options and features that otherwise won’t be available. Once you have your manager account you can then create your first paid social media campaign.
First, you’ll need to choose what kind of campaign you’d like to run. The decision will be informed by what specific products or services your business provides, as well as your key objectives from the campaign. There are several campaign options to choose from, including goals such as brand awareness and reach, landing page views, app promotion, leads or conversions.
Next you’ll choose your targeting options, which are a lot more extensive compared to PPC. You can choose very specific geo and demographic options, including age, gender, location and language. Next, you’ll choose the interests and behaviours that your target audience would match - there are literally thousands of options here, so it is important to be selective and to narrow your audience down to be as targeted as possible here. Once you have chosen your preferred options you will receive an estimated reach for your campaign. Here you will also choose the placements that you would like to appear on, and how you would like to pay for your ads. Typically with social media advertising you are charged on a CPM basis, but often you can still choose to pay with a cost per click model.
Next you will need to create your advert. One of the main benefits of social media marketing is that you can use visuals with your text ads to create more engaging content - this would typically include videos, slideshows, carousels or static image ads. As well as your creative you will need to write some engaging ad copy and descriptions, and choose your landing pages.
Finally you will choose your tracking options, which can include utm tracking but would also typically include pixel/conversion tracking via a conversion tag you will have placed on your website. This will allow you to track conversions and actions that happen on site once a user has clicked on your ad. This is especially important with paid social media as typically your customers will be higher up in the sales funnel compared to PPC and organic searches, as they are not actively searching for you here. This means that typically any actions (such as a sale) will take place at a later date after they’ve done some additional research, and having the pixel on site will allow you to track those conversion actions back to the original click so that you can attribute true value to your social media activity.
A simpler form of social media advertising is “boosting” posts; this is typically done to increase the reach of a post as often an organic post won’t even reach all of your existing followers, so it will quite literally give it a boost to ensure it is seen by more people. Boosts are really easy to set-up and action, but the options available are a lot more limited and so typically you won’t see the same level of performance as you would from an advert.
Setting up a simple boost or even a social media ad is definitely possible from someone not completely familiar with social media marketing, but it is not easy to deliver results. Like with most things in life, the more you put into something the more you get out, and paid social is no different. Installing pixels, setting up tracking and evaluating attribution is essential to measuring the performance of your campaigns, and is not always straight-forward to set up.
The amount of targeting options available within social media means that it’s possible to execute extremely smart campaigns which will drive reach, awareness, visits and ultimately sales. However, it can be a minefield of data if you’re not familiar with the features, and choosing the correct targeting is essential.
It is also paramount to write engaging copy with content that will cut through the social feed of your target audience, as they are not actively searching for your brand. It is all too easy for your ads to get lost in their feed, accruing impressions with no real actions and wasting your precious marketing spend. Using a paid social media agency will connect you with experts in social media marketing with years of experience, who are aware of the nuances and key features that will deliver you real results in what has the potential to be a hugely profitable source of customers.