Considering the runaway growth of social media, "exponential" seems insufficient to describe interest in this medium. Almost four out of five active Internet users frequent social media and blogs, and one of every seven people in the world have a Facebook page. Social media is no longer a craze--it's a fact of life.
With such a vast audience in place, marketers are naturally flocking to social media. And as with most forms of online marketing, there are two ways to approach targeting the social media consumer base: develop an organic following, which requires a huge investment in time, or purchase paid ads.
In 2013, more marketers are using paid social media as part of an online marketing strategy, but most aren't leaving the organic methods behind. A recent survey by Vizu, a Nielsen company, sheds light on how marketers are breaking in.
Ad budgets for 2013: More dedicated social media dollars
The Nielsen survey finds that 65 percent of marketers have increased their paid social media marketing dollars for 2013. This includes items like Facebook ads and promoted posts, Twitter promoted tweets, and LinkedIn's sponsored updates, just introduced in July. Most paid social media appears organic in nature, and appears in users' news feeds just like regular posts.
In addition, the survey found that 41 percent of advertisers in 2013 have a dedicated budget for social media marketing. However, a clear majority noted that in order to increase their current social media budget, they would have to pull resources away from other channels.
Finding the right mix
While paid social media is becoming more important, most marketers view this tool as an integrated cross-platform strategy in conjunction with other marketing methods, both online and off.
According to the Nielsen survey, 89 percent of advertisers use free social tools--but the majority don't rely on free alone. For example, 66 percent of marketers combine paid social media with other types of online ads as part of an overall strategy. Marketing agencies demonstrate a similar pattern of usage.
For the most part, promoted posts on social media are used as support in branding-related campaigns--by 45 percent of advertisers and 31 percent of agencies. However, it's important to keep in mind that paid social media is only effective for businesses that have an established social media presence, including appealing design and content that compels viewers to like and share.
The challenge: Measuring ROI
Analysis and return on investment is an essential part of any effective online marketing strategy. Unfortunately, paid social media presents some issues with ROI that make advertisers cautious about relying on promoted posts.
Survey results indicated that 42 percent of marketers prefer the exact same metrics as offline, with additional online-specific categories. Most often these metrics include the ability to link ROI to brand lift and sales generated. However, metrics that are used to measure results for offline medium simply aren't available through most social media sellers.
Online specific metrics are available for paid social media. Most advertisers are familiar with tracking retweets and repins, likes, and click-through rates. But even when it comes to online analysis, there are no standards--no relevant and universally employed metrics that enable marketers to measure results. Additionally, there is no way to track branding or sales through the current social media metrics.
Best practices for paid social media
Using paid social media as part of an overall strategy to increase brand awareness and audience reach can work for businesses. In order to make the most of promoted content:
Paid social media may not be "the new SEO," but it can be an important component of an online marketing strategy. If you are looking for marketing jobs in Houston Texas, contact the employment experts at Clearpoint today.
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