In 2020, over 3.6 billion people were actively using social media – that number is projected to increase to almost 4.41 billion in 2025. If you're going to remain competitive, it's essential to have a positive social presence and use paid social campaigns to boost your lead generation and sales efforts.
Social ads can be hyper-targeted, helping long-established businesses expand their client base and reach new markets. Or, they can reach wider audiences, assisting smaller companies in raising brand awareness and finding more customers for their products and services. Simply put, social media is an incredible new tool in advertising.
As social media continues to grow, so does the variety and complexity of the channels. It's more important than ever to ensure that you're using social media to its maximum potential. This article will help you understand the differences between paid and organic social media, break down social campaigns, and explore some of the most popular platforms for paid social today.
What is paid social media?
Paid Social enables marketers to promote their businesses through paid advertisements on social platforms. Sometimes referred to as Social Advertising or Social Media Marketing, it is a form of paid media that allows marketing teams to place their message or product in front of the right audience at scale, emphasising quality over quantity, and ultimately, growing their brand.
Posted content will appear in the feeds of a defined audience. These types of social ads are often hyper-targeted based on demographics (age, gender), interests (sports fans vs TV show fanatics), and location (locations near your business or competition's areas). Paid social is particularly useful for those just starting who need a boost in brand awareness or companies that aren't familiar with organic Social Media Marketing.
Paid vs organic social media
Unlike paid social, organic social media marketing is free. You generate and post content that appears on followers' news feeds, so they can choose to engage with them if their interest is piqued. Typically, organic posts will only reach around 3% of your followers, and while the post might be instant, it can sometimes take time to appear before users – or not appear at all. However, organic social media is excellent at building brand awareness and enhancing trust – with many B2B businesses now using social media as one of their primary support and status channels with clients.
In contrast, paid social media can consistently reach much larger audiences. Using demographic and psychographic information to target ideal customer profiles helps marketers attract high-quality leads. However, organic content is still essential to building trust with those same leads. Paid posts are fast, too. Once posted, you can start seeing a boost to click-through rate (CTR) within hours, with advanced tracking and metrics to tweak future posts for optimal performance.
Ultimately, finding a cohesive combination of the two strategies will net the most significant results.
Benefits of Paid vs Organic Social Media
What is a paid social campaign?
Paid social is essential to maximising exposure on social media, and a paid social campaign is the ongoing effort to achieve a primary metric. They're made up of multiple ad sets that allow you to test different messaging throughout your audience segments or target new audiences altogether.
Goals could include:
Generating more leads.
Seeing an increase in conversions and sales.
Raising awareness of your brand.
Expanding your follower count.
In paid campaigns, you can determine how much budget to allocate per day on each post, so they're not competing against each other on cost per click (CPC). They allow targeting at an incredible scale. Once you execute your campaign, you can track each post's performance in real-time, allowing you to identify the most efficient content and adapt your future marketing material to match developing metrics.
Insights from paid social media can be highly in-depth.
You can learn:
which types of promotions result in the most engagement;
what your social media audience demographics look like; and
how your social ads perform versus your organic social.
Paid social media platforms
Every successful paid social campaign starts with considering the most effective distribution channels. Identifying which platforms perform best before diving into content creation is essential, as each site benefits from a different design style. The ideal platform for your business can vary, depending on your industry and the market price of your products or services.
Let's cover the big 5 in more detail.
LinkedIn social ads are ideal for B2B companies, as the platform is mainly used by professionals. Marketers can generate outstanding results from ads that target specific interest groupings and industry verticals - like job titles, industries, company names - to influence purchasing decisions, especially in professional services industries like consulting. Due to its high-quality leads, advertising on LinkedIn can be expensive (which could potentially result in a more significant ROI). This makes LinkedIn more suitable for businesses with high-profit margins or significant contract value.
82% of B2B markers report finding the greatest success on LinkedIn. ( LinkedIn Marketing Solutions)
Tips for advertising on LinkedIn
Target LinkedIn groups
Test creatives for different job titles and industry campaigns to establish effectiveness.
Explore manual bidding instead of auto-bidding if you're confident in your sales funnel.
While many B2B businesses dismiss Facebook as B2C, the platform happens to be one of the most effective options for paid social, generating a higher ROI than any other platform or medium available. Facebook provides advertisers with a large number of targeting features and a broad range of performance metrics, including detailed breakdowns of identifiers and psychographics. Campaigns can also be charged by impressions, instead of clicks, which could prove more beneficial to certain businesses and industries – especially if lower costs are paramount.
70% of marketers use Facebook ads, and there were 9 million active advertisers on the platform in Q2 2020 ( Social Media Examiner)
Tips for advertising on Facebook
Ensure creative content is built around the end user's pain points and desires.
Optimise tracking to make the most of Facebook's detailed data.
Instagram shares the same data as Facebook, with highly detailed demographic breakdowns and cross-functional support for the two applications. However, social ads on Instagram are highly visual, making them popular among brand marketers and companies with vibrant branding. As a platform, it's an excellent fit for younger demographics, and there's an opportunity to increase awareness of your business by reaching a captive audience with relevant content.
90% of people on Instagram follow a business. ( Instagram)
Tips for advertising on Instagram
Apply a creative visual emphasis when it comes to content.
Avoid using too many words. You're capturing people looking for entertainment.
Twitter social ads appear on the search results page, in-stream while viewing a profile, or within promoted tweets that appear at the top of users' timelines. Like Facebook, you have access to detailed audience information about their interests and demographics, allowing for more targeted social advertising strategies – although they're not quite as in-depth.
93% of Twitter community members are open to brands getting involved in a conversation, such as providing help and support. ( Twitter)
Tips for advertising on Twitter
Ensure your creatives are relevant to the audience.
Use Twitter to share events with a more mass-market appeal.
TikTok social ads allow brands to show pre-recorded, 15-second videos as adverts on users' feeds. Social campaigns are still relatively new for the platform but have been generating a lot of attention from advertisers and marketers alike – especially after it was announced that TikTok had over 500 million daily active users (TechCrunch). Social advertising on TikTok is cheaper than established platforms like Facebook at the time of this article. Tracking is improving, too, with accuracy on the up post-IRS14.
TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020. ( Apptopia)
Tips for advertising on TikTok
Focus your creative efforts on entertaining content with good videography.
Consider whom you target, and monitor your metrics closely while the platform develops.
Where does paid social media fit into your overall strategy?
Social marketing can be a powerful tool for building awareness and moving prospects through the funnel, but it's just one part of an overall social media strategy. Social ads should tie into your broader content marketing efforts to provide relevant information that aligns with users' interests before leading them down the conversion path - whether they're looking for product info or signing up to learn more about your services.
72% of B2B marketers who use paid channels online use paid social ( Content Marketing Institute)
With over 53% of the world's population on social media, paid social campaigns are essential for a modern marketing strategy. If your business is relatively new, paid social may not provide the conversion results you're looking for. Instead, wait until your company evolves and refines its target audience and focus on building brand awareness. However, established businesses with a proven product can expect a much more significant boost to their conversions and revenue from the get-go.
Without knowledge and expertise of the different social networks, creating a compelling campaign may seem daunting. You need to define goals, identify specific metrics, and measure potential returns before deciding on a platform. Whether you're looking to broaden brand awareness, improve search engine rankings or increase conversions, our experts can help you build successful paid social campaigns.
Find out how we can help you boost your social presence and ad conversions.