Paying for social media promotion has been a recent trend for businesses of all sizes. Here are a few things that are important to know before considering paying for advertisements on social media.
Pay to play is most commonly used on Facebook, one of the most well-known and frequented social media sites. Many businesses use comany pages to post images, articles or offerings to their audience. According to a recent study by Forrester Research, in October 2013, just 6% of businesses reached viewers with organic posting, which is the idea businesses earn their spot in newsfeeds by having interesting and thoughtful posts that are well received (1).
A new algorithm, or Facebook’s method for figuring out which content to display, may be to blame. This algorithm puts the “best” content at the top of a user’s newsfeed. What determines the highest-quality content isn’t clear, but industry experts have some strong guesses. One comes from a survey of thousands of Facebook users. Facebook now asks businesses to pay to have those same posts viewed by users. The site has stated it expects organic distribution of posts to gradually decline over time. Twitter also has plans in the future to change algorithms similar to Facebook, thus making businesses pay for their messages to be seen (1). In other words, having the ability to share a business’s message for free on social media to a broad audience is a dying art.
For this reason, many companies are paying to play on social media, which has several pros and cons (2):
• Your business can reach a new target group by advertising to different audiences.
• Paying guarantees your ad will be circulated through newsfeeds.
• Social media sites will often let you know how well your ads and posts are performing or even how often your business’s page has been visited.
• Pay to play can add up. Although many sites let you pick how much money you’d like to spend, you must consider this a recurring expense if your business wants to see consistent results.
• It may not always be effective. Users are seeing the paid post, but are they clicking? What about buying?
• A business cannot just assume that only paid advertisements will do the trick. To be successful with your on social media, organic posts still need to be done.
Although it may seem like paying for social media attention is completely necessary because of new algorithms, it is important to know the needs and financial standing of your own business to determine whether paid social media is right for you. What it comes down to is whether you want to give your business the added push in growing in the online world.
If you don’t think your company is ready for the added expense, here are some pointers to promote organically. Use Facebook’s free tools. For example, start with “likes.” When people like your business online, all of that individual’s followers will catch a glimpse of your page as well. Consider giving users an incentive such as discounts or freebies after they like your page. Use the resources users post freely such as zip code, job title and interests to target your audience better. Create more click-friendly links that have images, URLs and tags such as “learn more” on each post. This gives users multiple ways to get to your company’s page (3). WF
1. D. Moth, “Pay To Play: The End Of Free Social Media Marketing?” The Guardian, Sept. 15, 2014, www.theguardian.com/media/2014/sep/15/pay-to-play-the-end-of-free-social-media-marketing, accessed Feb. 2, 2016.
2. E. Siemasko, “Is Paying for Social Media Exposure Really Worth It?” May 2, 2014, http://grasshopper.com/blog/is-paying-for-social-media-exposure-really-worth-it, accessed Feb. 2, 2016.
3. D. Kerpen, “Facebook’s Pay-to-Play: 3 Key Takeaways for Your Business,” Inc. Apr. 8, 2014, www.inc.com/dave-kerpen/facebook-is-now-pay-to-play-3-key-takeaways-for-your-business.html, accessed Feb. 2, 2016.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine March 2016