No Free Lunch: The Importance of Paid Social Media

It couldn’t last forever. Social media has finally grown up and realized it had to get a real job. What I mean is that social media is no longer free! If you want to truly engage your audience with content – especially on Facebook and LinkedIn – you’ll have to PAY to optimize reach.

The growing importance of social advertising in your content distribution plan is detailed quite well in this recent blog, “Organic Reach Is Dead.” I won’t re-hash everything the blog highlights (as I recommend you read it firsthand), but what I will offer are five key ways you should be using social media to reach your audience – with regard to content, budget and frequency:

1. Regardless of whether you pay to reach more followers or not – every piece of content has to be high quality or it won’t engage and in some cases may not even reach the airwaves (e.g., Facebook advertising guidelines no longer allow images with text comprising more than 20 percent of the picture).

2. When putting money behind your posts – consider putting higher budget amounts behind the content that engages your audience directly with your website or that supports product launches – so it increases your chance for ROI.

3. Rules for every social media platform are constantly changing, as are their popularity levels. Prior to investing in advertising or promoting yourself across any one platform – see what your peers are doing there and research your targeted audience’s level of participation. Once you’ve confirmed your audience is say, on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – run ads with limited budgets on all three in tandem with similar offers, then determine which performs the best so you’ll know where to spend most of your money moving forward. 

4. Consider old-fashioned advertising as a way to cross-promote key social content. This may include sponsoring a guest blog on a popular industry website or print advertising. The content can still engage if it invites the recipient to converse with you on a social media platform or to visit your website to find out more.

5. Whenever possible, integrate your social media activities with an incentive or motivation for followers to officially engage with you by opting-in to your email or newsletter subscription service. In other words – get them to provide you with their information for your contact database.

Facebook and LinkedIn may be kings in the B2C/B2B world at the time this blog was written – but I guarantee you that someday soon there will be a new up and trending social network that everyone is flocking to while others begin a decline (remember that once-hip site formally known as MySpace?). And rest assured, you will have to start from scratch on that hot, new site to build a following. BUT if you’ve been collecting contact information from your followers all along, and you’ve been engaging with them in direct communications – in person, by phone, email or direct mail marketing – it will be much easier to take them with you wherever social media trends go.

What are your biggest challenges with paying to reach your social followers?

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