Businesses turn to social media to build a loyal audience they then leverage to boost sales and generate new leads. Other than the considerable investment of time and resources required to make corporate social media initiatives succeed, social media costs nothing to use.

Hence, some businesses frown on social media paid advertising – they prefer to build an audience organically, without the assistance of ad buys, even though these ad buys are intrinsic to other aspects of a business’s marketing strategy.

Still, social media ads can offer a very targeted, strategic way to build an audience and reach people who might not otherwise be reached. The challenge is evaluating whether social media advertising is right for your business. Here are the key things you need to know as you decide whether you should invest in paid advertising on social media:

  1. Social media is so vast that it’s hard to stand out: Major social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram expose their audience to such a huge amount of content that it’s a wonder any business can get noticed. On a site like Facebook – which uses a complex algorithm to determine what postings pop up on users’ news feeds – you could be producing great content, but if the algorithm decides your content is not worthy of moving into your followers’ feeds, your efforts could be going to waste. Furthermore, supplying enough good content to keep algorithms “happy” can require substantial resources – perhaps more of a commitment than your business can handle.
  2. Paid social media allows for powerful targeting and analysis: All marketing is about getting exposure to the right people at the right time, and social media can sometimes stand in the way of that. While social media reaches a global audience, the audience you may want to reach is a local or regional audience, or a certain age range or gender demographic. Paid social media ads can make a huge difference in this regard. With paid advertising, you have the ability to target your ads to a specific audience, to ramp up your messaging very quickly and effectively, and to use sophisticated analytics to carefully monitor and tweak your strategy in real time.
  3. Paid ads aren’t well-received on social media: Consumer surveys have shown that many people get annoyed by ads while surfing the web, and these same sentiments unfortunately extend to social media. In fact, surveys suggest that a majority of social media users despise seeing ads in their feeds, and social-media advertising is such unchartered territory that there’s not yet a lot of hard data demonstrating its effectiveness. This is a great reason for you to invest in a social media sharing platform like EveryoneSocial. We have the industry-leading platform that enables your employees to share relevant company content and quality third-party industry content with their personal networks. This, in addition to purchasing social media ads, can help your company find its voice and become noticed in the vast social media landscape.
  4. Paid ads on social media require a big investment: Like all content on social media, paid ads must contain content that will entice and engage your audience. Hence, your business must be prepared to invest just as much time and resources into producing high-quality content for social media advertising as you do with all of your content marketing. And more significantly, given that any business has a finite budget for marketing, any money and resources you allocate to paid ads on social media will inevitably mean a smaller pie for the rest of your marketing budget.
  5. Analytics is instrumental to the success of paid social media ads: Paid advertising on social media can be effective if you’re able to target all the right people, and get them to respond in just the way that you want. Unfortunately, the only way to know any of this is to commit to performing detailed analytics. Google Analytics is a great place to start – you’ll want to create customized URLs for each ad you release to track exactly who’s clicking on it and what the outcome of that click is (i.e. sale or no sale). As you compile this information on a daily basis, trends will start to emerge that will help you decide how to adjust your ad buying strategy.
  6. Your ad buys should be diverse, at least initially: Just as you should never put all of your eggs in one basket, you want to diversify your ad buys and take full advantage of the huge range of options available to you on social media. For example, on Facebook alone, you can buy ads that appear on users’ news feeds, on a right-hand bar, or on mobile devices only.

Every business is different and has different social media goals. As you evaluate if and how you should buy ads on social media, it’s important to keep the following things in mind: Be aware of the vastness of social media, consider the powerful targeting capabilities of paid ads, recognize that users don’t like ads, be prepared to invest sufficient resources and analytics into your strategy, and remember to diversify your ad buys.