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When should you use paid social?

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It can be scary for small businesses to invest in paid social media as the results of each campaign can vary and are not guaranteed. However, according to Sprout Social, paid social can support your organic social media in the long run, guarantee that you reach the target audience you’re marketing to, and put your brand or product in front of the right customers. A well crafted social media campaign using paid posts can have some immediate results leading to increased brand awareness, more traffic for your web presence and even lead generation.

When is a good time to use paid social media? There’s no clear cut answer to this, but Sprout Social recommends you do so when you have an established following and understand the idiosyncrasies of the social media channel you’re targeting. They also recommend creating a budget and tying your ad campaigns to big picture business goals.

How did you get started using paid social? What have the results been? We’d love to hear your stories! Share in the comments below.

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The best thing you can do before you start with paid social is to get clear with what you are trying to accomplish. For example, is this a branding exercise? Are you looking for email signups or engagement with a free trial? Or are you looking for someone to make a purchase? 

From there, you can make sure you have the necessary tracking in place to measure what you are trying to achieve. You can also place a dollar amount on different metrics. 

If you are using paid social to drive conversions, but the acquisition cost is more than your product (and margins), paid social may not be worth it.  

A better route may be using google search ads because people have more search intent and are more likely to convert. However, it is always essential to think about your corresponding landing page experience to understand where the disconnect arises if you have a great click-through rate on your ads but aren't seeing the results you'd like.

If, however, paid social is excellent for bringing in people who are eager to do a free trial, and each new client is worth more than the cost of acquisition, social may be a great channel for you.  

In my experience, start with a small budget, and test a few different types of messaging, and creative and see if people are engaging with your creative. Try a few different formats, and landing pages, and once you start to get some traction, you can increase your ad spend. In time, hopefully, you'll have a rough idea how much an email sign up, or download, or purchase usually costs via different ad channels. 

Different types of ads are better suited to branding vs people actively searching out a solution. Before you start with paid social you want to consider: 

1. goals of your paid social efforts
2. your audience (personas?) 
3.  messaging - what kind of messaging resonates? 
4. creative - what kind of ad formats resonate? 
5. social channel - what channel is best suited to your audience (LinkedIn, instagram etc)
6. call to action  - what do you want people to do 
7. landing page experience  and URL (where are you sending people, and does your ad messaging mirror your landing page?) 
8. Cost (is this channel helping your business financially)

Edited by Tiny_Coast
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  • 4 months later...

The short answer to the "When should you use paid social?" for small business is - if you've established that organic social traffic to your site has proved a positive ROI and it's of value. Then, you can use those learnings (audience interests, targeting, geo areas, etc) to use paid to push to similar and look alike audiences, ideally reaching new users who fit your consumer profile on the platforms (FB, IG, Pinterest, etc). 

If your site doesn't currently have social, or it's got no social traffic from existing profiles then your first step isn't spend, it's figuring out with organic posts what content works for you. 

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