Social media, unique in the fact that its the only kind of media that encourages and allows complex interaction with its recipients, is a great way to promote your brand through the various types of paid (and unpaid) advertising it offers.
The very nature of the medium, however, means that unless you're able to achieve some sort of engagement with your target market, you're pretty much wasting the opportunity that's been put before you.
It's important to understand that the scope and versatility of social media lends itself to particular advertising forms and strategies; and that merely replicating a static advertisement you might use for your local newspaper just won't do the trick.
Social media commentator Drew Hendricks agrees, pointing out that social media can be a great platform for advertising, “but only if you can optimize your ROI”.
“What’s the point in an advertising campaign if it doesn’t boost your return on investment?” he asks in an article on the Forbes website.
“(Especially if) you put in $1,000 towards a marketing campaign, but in the end you only get an extra $500 in revenue and no guarantees of return or loyal customers.”
Hendricks recommends keeping in mind that “advertising”, as a concept, can take on many different meanings.
“Sometimes the more organic routes are much more effective than traditional approaches,” he says.
Before you outlay any cash, Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes also recommends using free social media posts to “beta-test” any kind of planned paid advertising.
“If your company is on social media, you’re likely already sending out multiple Tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates every day,” he says.
“Some of these messages will resonate with followers; others won’t.”
“It’s precisely these high-performing messages that make great candidates for native (paid) social ads. All you’re doing is taking a tried and true message and paying to put it in front of a newer, larger audience.”
“The (aim) here is fresh, ever-changing ad content. At the same time, social ads can be reused by targeting them to multiple demographics,” he says.
“Rotating the same message through a series of different, highly targeted groups, in fact, is one of the easiest ways to extend the life and utility of native social ads.”
In an article on the Social Media Week website, social media consultant Larry Alton suggests that while the best advertising platform will “depend on your needs”, Facebook is the overwhelming front-runner in terms of ease of use and general effectiveness.
“Facebook’s ad creation tool is remarkably simple (and) also has an intuitive and highly detailed analytics platform, which allows you to easily compare the success of multiple individual campaigns against each other,” he says.
“In addition to these features, Facebook commands a bigger audience than any other platform,” Alton adds.
“Using Facebook’s audience targeting tools, you can selectively advertise only to demographics that make sense for your business, down to the likes and interests of your ideal candidates.”