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Q & A

Q&A: Paid social media

Digital marketing expert, Aydin Moghaddam, of media and marketing agency Mindshare UK, explains the business benefits of paid social media

What is “paid social media”?

Aydin Moghaddam (AM): “It means paying to have your social media posts promoted, on Twitter or Facebook, for example. It allows businesses to reach a much wider audience than their current social media followers. Social platforms have various ad formats for businesses, ranging from images and videos to lead-generation ads designed specifically to capture prospects’ email addresses. Sometimes paid social media is called promoted or sponsored social media.”

What benefits does paid social media potentially offer?

AM: “Organic social media posts on average only reach about 10% of a business’ followers. Paid social allows businesses to reach new audiences that would not otherwise see their posts, which can enable them to grow their customer base.

“And you can target different audiences precisely, based on location, demographics, interests – even job title, household income, etc. ‘Remarketing’ is another option, which means targeting people who’ve already visited your website. Businesses can upload customer or prospect email addresses and tailor offers and ads to these segments specifically.”

Does organic social still have a place?

AM: “It does, businesses can still use it to build a social community and communicate with their customers. Organic posts can also help to improve brand recall for existing fans and, if done correctly, turn them into ‘raving’ customers. However, organic reach alone is not something that a business should rely on.”

How much does paid social cost?

AM: “It varies. Each platform commands a different price, because ads are usually bought in an auction. And different audiences within a platform will vary in price based on competition and seasonality, while each ad format is priced differently too.

“On average, video views can cost £0.001-£0.07 per view; post engagements £0.15-£1.25; and clicks to a website £0.10-£5.00 per click. Businesses, however, should be less concerned with vanity metrics and more concerned with ultimate business value. They can do this by measuring ROI [return on investment] and marketing effectiveness.”

How can success be measured?

AM: “Social media platforms provide advertisers with basic insights and ‘soft metrics’, such as how many people watched a video, how many engaged – liked, shared or commented – and how many became a follower after seeing an ad. However, actual behaviour offers greater insight.

“More savvy marketers now include social in their attribution modelling [ie the method used to measure the monetary impact a piece of communication has on sales, customer retention, profit, etc]. Most times, as regards online marketing, the last thing a customer did or was exposed to gets all of the credit for the sale. But attribution modelling lets us move away from the bias in last click measurement, by allocating value to all exposures leading up to a sale. This enables a better understanding of the ROI of channels such as paid social, irrespective of the role it plays – whether it’s brand awareness, consideration or response.”

What three key paid social media tips do you offer?

AM: “Firstly, more than 90% of social media takes place on mobile devices. So, video must be easily viewable on a mobile screen and the message must be clear. You should also be able to understand videos without sound. If your aim is to drive people to your website, make sure your website is responsively designed, so it looks good on mobile and tablet devices.

“Secondly, users are in a different mindset when checking their social media feeds when compared using a search engine. Good social media should feel ‘native’ [ie natural] to the platform.

“Thirdly, the better your ad targeting, the better your results. Think about who your target audience is and what value you can offer them.”

Read more:

Understanding social media marketing

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Use social media to market your business

How to create an effective social media profile