Social Advertising: What's Going on and Where is it Headed?

Recently, Facebook made changes to its all-important Edgerank algorithm, which immediately elicited gripes from social media managers everywhere as they watched their reach steadily decline. Still, Facebook assures its users that “posting works the same way it did before.” But, does it really? It doesn’t appear so as it’s not uncommon for those who continue posting as usual to see drops of 50% or more in their numbers (likes, shares, people who saw the post).

Should You Combat With Post Promotion?

Naturally, those who see a dip in their numbers are going to be motivated to do something about it, namely promote their posts to see if they can regain the loss. Of course, post promotion costs money — but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.

How social ads work

If you’ve tried post promotion you probably saw something magical happen — an instant spike in engagement (probably close to your old numbers). However, is this magic for you or just Facebook? Well, we know it’s doing wonders for the social media giant as they just reported a 36% increase in advertising revenue. As for how post promotion is panning out for advertisers . . . that’s still a point of debate.

While most agree the promoted content better reaches those who already “like” you, some say it doesn’t adequately target those in your broader audience. Many across the blogosphere have complained that, although their engagement numbers increased, when they took a look at the people who made up those numbers they found they largely included folks from Southeast Asia (many with possibly fake profiles) who by no means fit their target demographic.

Does this mean you should scrap post promotion? Not necessarily. Some have had great success by geotargeting their posts so they only reach those living in certain areas (eliminates the SE Asia problem). Still, it can be frustrating to pay to achieve the same results you were getting for free before the Edgerank update.

What about Paid Ads?

Paid ads are no less fraught with debate. One thing which sets them apart from post promotion is you have more customization options, which makes it easier to direct your ads at a more specific audience. In fact, social networks have collected so much data on their users that they likely know many people better than those individuals know themselves. This is good for you because it means you can target folks based on very specific criteria.

However, some marketers feel traditional, PPC-type ads are mostly ineffective on social sites and that sponsored content is more apt to get people’s attention (whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or some other site). Others complain that social sites don’t offer enough variety in the sizes and placements of their ads.

It seems no one can make up their mind. Even super-company GM (who should have an all-star marketing firm) has flip-flopped on their opinion. In May they ditched their Facebook ads claiming they were less effective than other web ads; however, in less than six months they reversed their stance.

So, What Should You Do?

For every person you ask about advertising on social media, you’ll likely get a different opinion. The reason for so much variation is, frankly, some people know how to do it right and some don’t. There’s so much more to executing an effective ad campaign or publicizing a post than simply hitting the “promote” button. Not only must you set your ad/post up correctly, but you also have to consider a host of variables, such as post time, display frequency, site placement, audience, as well as correctly balancing your budget with your expected ROI.

Essentially, advertising on social media has enormous potential to grow your reach, but only if you do it right. If you’re not getting the results you’d like, consider hiring a professional for help. Social sites have hundreds of millions of active users from all walks of life, so it’s definitely not an arena you can afford to ignore. And if you leave out of resentment you’ll only be doing your competitors a favor.

Is This the Future of Social Advertising?

As more and more sponsored posts end up permeating social pages, you may be wondering if this method of advertising is going to start ticking consumers off and eventually fall to the wayside. Granted, the ads are coming in unsolicited, but most people have accepted the fact that ads are a necessary part of most free services.

Are social ads a good idea

Additionally, users have a great deal of control over the types of ads they are exposed to. For instance, the ads are directed towards people based on their interactions, which means the messages someone sees will become increasingly more relevant as they continue to use the social network. And the more relevant an ad the more probable it is the person will form a positive opinion of the experience. Also, most networks give consumers another level of control by allowing them to hide brands from their news feeds or block profiles. As an advertiser, this also benefits you because it means you won’t have to waste time directing your message towards people who have no interest in your brand.

All that considered, it’s safe to say, “Yes,” post promotion and social ads will have a major presence in the future (and the now) of online advertising. Admittedly, the Edgerank algorithm has been a colossal bummer for many but, unless you want to drop Facebook, it appears paying to play is the most viable option for staying ahead of the competition.


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