The Value of Paid Social

Paid media has become necessary for brands to amplify content to the right audiences, at the right time, with the right message.

With the decline in organic reach on Facebook, the introduction of an algorithm on Instagram and the real-time nature of Twitter, paid media has become necessary for brands to amplify content to the right audiences, at the right time, with the right message.

Organic marketing activity is only as valuable as the users it’s reaching. Followers represent a very small percentage of a brand’s total target audience, so only reaching 2 percent to 3 percent of a follower base organically has minimal impact on business objectives.

Social platforms have built features that deliver against business objectives by utilizing their huge scale, targeting accuracy and sophisticated tracking and measurement capabilities.

Paid activity acts as an extension of owned media efforts to drive campaign results and amplify content to a larger target audience. The benefits of paid media on social include:

  • Control: The advertiser has complete control over the ad format and messaging strategy and can personalize marketing to specific audience segments.
  • Scale: Paid media enables marketers to reach and target hundreds of millions of users on a daily basis.
  • High-level targeting: Leveraging first-party, logged-in data enables targeting granularity at high accuracy. Customer-relationship-management targeting capabilities mean that brands can utilize their customer data to target and create lookalike audiences. Partnerships with third-party data companies enable advertisers to target users based on offline buying behavior.
  • Bidding: Bid types enable optimization toward a variety of campaign objectives.
  • Optimization: Activity can be optimized on a specific goal–reach, awareness, offsite conversion or engagement.
  • Tracking: Each platform has its own pixel capabilities, which enable tracking of on-site actions and audiences for retargeting.
  • Measurement: Measurement studies allow brands to track online and in-store actions.

Here is a breakdown of organic versus paid activity, by social platform:

Twitter

Twitter is a real-time platform where users seek out the latest news and updates. Users are able to access information in the timeline, trending topics and Moments. The release of the “while you were away” feature in 2015 introduced an element of an algorithm-based feed for the first time. It will be interesting to see how Twitter further evolves its feed algorithm, but for the moment, we don’t expect it to have a huge impact on organic reach.

There is value in engaging a brand’s Twitter audience from an organic and paid standpoint. We see that consistent amplifications help to increase a brand’s share of voice, retweets and mentions. Ultimately, consistent engagement leads to an increase in overall return on investment.

Brands should think of Twitter as a channel to consistently engage their audience. Organically tweeting two to three times per day should drive about 30 percent organic reach. Brands can reach their followers with their messaging for free, so should take advantage of this low-hanging fruit.

Pinterest

Organic content on Pinterest is about quality over quantity because Pins are shown to more than just your followers based on shared interests. Like most other channels, organic provides value, but only up to a certain point. We know that Pinterest is a huge driver of traffic (usually net new), and that its organic tools like the Save button are big drivers of this traffic.

Organic performance can help guide creative strategy for promoted content. We often see clients use strong-performing organic content to either influence the creation of new Promoted Pins or promote those Pins directly.

At the end of the day, paid is how clients are driving real results for their business. We’ve seen that clients with a strong organic presence tend to do the best when it comes to amplification through paid. Paid media enables brands to increase scale and reach through targeted placement. They can reach their target audiences while they are in key consideration or action mindsets. Pinterest has shown that it drives double-digit lifts in all brand metrics, and a recent study found that Promoted Pins drive incremental sales for retailers.