Social Media Advertising: Pay To Play

Until the dawn of the digital age, media buying simply encompassed radio and television advertising. Media Buyers, optimizing a “spend” for their clients’ needs, could pull information from focus groups or Nielsen, the consumer information giant, and use the statistics to strategically purchase ad space during peak hours. Commercial time was, and still is, a costly investment. With the introduction of social media, we can greatly reduce the cost of ad spending as well as directly market to highly targeted audiences.

For years, everyone thought social media was just a fad, something audiences would lose interest in. Boy, were they wrong. After years of continuous growth, Facebook partnered with JP Morgan in 2006 to promote the Chase credit card. It wasn’t until November 2007, 8 years ago exactly, that “Facebook Ads” were launched. The idea that a business or brand should be on social media is no longer debatable as studies show 88% of businesses are on at least one platform. Spending ad dollars on social media marketing is also not a debatable topic as eMarketer predicts an excess of $29 billion will be spent in 2016 on online media buys. Social advertising has become a pay-to-play game and the question now is, what percentage of the overall advertising budget should go to social media and to which channels should the money be allocated.

Currently, several platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and newly added Instagram, allow brands to advertise with different levels of targeting. The role of media buying has fundamentally changed in the digital economy. We now have beaucoup data to sift through, gathered by moguls like Google and Facebook, essentially eradicating the need for focus groups. This data then allows for marketers to serve their message directly to pinpointed audiences, depending on the platform’s sophistication.

Overall, the level at which we can target consumers has dramatically improved. The most popular ad platform, and arguably the most visited place on the internet, is Facebook. That, in and of itself, is an ever changing beast of a machine with several working parts. To make this easier, we can take a deeper dive into Facebook advertising.

When you go to bat for a brand on Facebook, there are many, many options for your ad spend. Deciding between page post engagements, web clicks, the like campaign (everyone’s favorite), app downloads, event responses — the list goes on and on – it can be daunting. First, you need to know your objective that will support your business goals. Once you know the goal of the campaign, it is then time to choose who will receive the message. Whether you choose website retargeting, email lists, or create your own; custom audiences are the way to go. These audiences can be created from email lists or traffic from your website. You can spend $1,000 advertising to everyone, OR have a super specific campaign centered on a particular demographic. When you choose the latter, you’ll be spending that same amount of money in a much smarter way. There are so many options, even the experts can get overwhelmed and this is completely dismissing the fact that Facebook changes daily. Daily. As a Social Media Specialist, we spend our time in the trenches. We’re able to watch real time results and make adjustments accordingly.

Facebook recently announced its partnership with Nielsen to measure television advertising impact on social media. This still allows several avenues for a business or brand to spend money advertising, even in the more traditional realms. Whether you’re a well-oiled, one (wo)man marketing machine or working on a team of individuals, improper ad buying can result in several losses including new business opportunities and money. Partnering with the professionals who work day in and day out on behalf of your business, and who know how to best spend your money for your best ROI is your best bet, giving you the most bang for your buck.