Paid Social Media: Worth The Investment?

Social media advertising spend is expected to top $47.9 billion in 2021. That’s nearly 20% of the total expected advertising spend by all North American businesses this year.

The amount of money spent on paid social media ads has been steadily climbing since 2019, and now, with businesses preparing to spend nearly a fifth of their ad budgets on this pay-to-play promo, it’s clear that social media ads are becoming a staple in marketing strategies across small and large businesses.

Ultimately, paid social media helps with targeting audiences and driving sales just as organic social media does. The advantage to paying for this type of value? Speed to market, campaign sustainability, and good old fashioned message frequency.

Organic social media traffic can take days to build due to the algorithms at work behind the scenes of the most popular social media sites. If you’re running a short campaign, that ramp up time can cost you visibility and leads. With paid social media, your campaign can get started with an extra boost at a speed that organic posts just can’t match. In addition to sustaining views, traffic, and engagement for as long as your credit card can stand, you’ll have the benefit of retargeting consumers with your ads to achieve an advertisement frequency that you can control.

Pay-per-click advertising, branded or influencer-generated content, and display ads are all examples of paid social media. You’ll know a paid social media advertisement when you see one based on the “sponsored” or “promoted” tag near the post.

Every social media channel is different. Twitter offers short-form content, Instagram focuses heavily on visual content, Facebook has its own marketplace for shopping enthusiasts, and LinkedIn is the home of networking professionals.

As such, paid social media on each platform differs, and should, depending on the campaign and audience.

Here, we’re going to explore some quick strategies that will help you decide how to use paid social to the benefit of your brand.

Paid Social Media Strategy

A paid social media strategy leverages external marketing activities on social media channels that support PPC advertising. It involves using the ad tools native to those social media channels to create, schedule, and post targeted ads that will reach a specific market. The objectives of a paid social media strategy may include awareness, consideration, or conversions.

Paid Social Media Strategy Objective

Setting the objective for your paid social media strategy gives your subsequent tactics a direction to work with and a goal to achieve. Think of this strategy as a road trip. You start your journey at your house with the goal of making it to your destination by a certain time. Paid social ads work the same way — your audience is starting their journey with your brand on their newsfeed and your goal is to lead them to the destination — a content offer on your website, an email subscription form, or even your social media profile itself.

To establish where your audience is starting their journey, you’ll use filters, settings, and other criteria to narrow down your audience so that everyone you target is starting from a similar place. This doesn’t have to be a physical location (although it can be). You can target people by their age, their hobbies, and even their occupation.

Paid Social Media Strategy Budget

Paid social media advertising is one of the least expensive types of advertising available in the traditional and digital market. The pay-to-play model for these channels makes them flexible enough to target only the people your business wants to attract, therefore you only have to pay for those you have the ability to reach.

Unlike TV or radio ads that are priced based on the length of the spot and the time the ads will air, social media ads are priced based on the length of the campaign and the potential number of impressions you’ll be working toward with your ads. This gives these types of ads a much more favorable KPI to track — cost per acquisition — as opposed to traditional ads that can only vaguely track cost per million impressions.

Platforms for Paid Social Media





Each paid social media platform has unique features that set it apart from competitors. However, there are three key characteristics of a converting paid ad that you’ll want your platform of choice to support: visual content, easy access to lead capture forms, and enough space to include enticing ad copy.

Scaling Your Paid Social Media Strategy

When you put money behind a campaign, no matter how much or how little, you’ll want a sustainable ROI that shows the budget, effort, and resources you expended were all worth it. That ROI growth means you’ll be able to scale your campaigns in the future, and paid ads can fuel your success.

Now that you have a solid understanding of the most popular paid social media ad platforms on the market, you’ll need to track all of your hard work to realize that ROI. The native platforms we mentioned earlier do offer reporting and analytics, but what happens when you run a campaign across several different social media sites? I’ll give you a hint — it gets very messy very quickly.

Investing in paid social media — the verdict is in.

It’s easy to think ad spend is just for the big brands, but making informed purchase decisions benefits every business.

The truth is, social media channels are making advertising accessible to large and small businesses alike. Once you learn how to plan, create, and position your ads to your target audience, you’ll have a much smoother time proving the ad campaign’s ROI to your stakeholders.

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