Social Media: Pay to Play

Social media has changed the game for many small businesses, providing platforms for developing and engaging audiences and creating stronger connections to customers and potential customers. Of course social media isn’t free, there is a time and resource commitment to fully realize what social media can do. These costs are typically extremely reasonable and within the reach of most small businesses.  There is another dimension to social media that requires an investment but may be your smartest marketing spend. Paid social media.
Paid social media opportunities are available on all the major social platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and others. Each platform has it’s own features and nuances, but they all operate with a similar underlying model. We won’t go into all the details and permutations of programs here but there are common aspects every small business should know about:

Targeting

One of the most compelling and valuable aspects of paid social marketing is the targeting criteria that are available. The criteria vary from platform to platform but include the ability to target geographically, demographically, by keyword, topic, lifestyle and a wide variety of criteria. One of the greatest challenges for small businesses is spending limited marketing dollars to reach generalized audiences which drives up costs and limits advertising performance. Paid social allows small businesses to get extremely targeted and deliver your message to exactly the right audience.

Performance based

Pay for what works. Paid social programs do offer some options that are not performance based, but the most popular offerings are cost-per-click options. Frequently offered in a bid style structure, similar to Google Adwords, small businesses can run campaigns that only pay for customer response versus other impression based advertising options. When budgets are tight and every dollar counts, paying for what works is extremely valuable.  

Scaleable

Another beautiful thing about paid social is the ability to adjust to the needs of your business quickly and easily. If things are going well your spend and reach can be expanded in almost real-time. If for any reason you need to reduce your spend, focus on a new geography or buyer type these campaigns can be changed with very little lead time.

You’re in control

Almost all the paid social programs for small business are self-administered. You run your programs using easy to use tools, tutorials and support services. There can be a bit of a learning curve with some ad programs, but in most cases the curve isn’t steep and you can be up and productive without a huge effort.

Paid social works

This article on Social Media Examiner details how marketers are seeing results, and value, using paid social media. Obviously everyone’s results and experiences will vary, but most marketers are seeing worthy performance from paid social channels.
It doesn’t require a huge budget to try, is relatively easy to learn and can provide real impact for your business. Paid social can complement your organic social efforts and help you move the meter for your small business.

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Devin Sears
Devin Sears | Field Marketing Manager

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