May 10

Social Media Ads: Are They Worth the Money?

You’ve likely come across social media posts from accounts you don’t follow, but the content still seems to be interesting. These are known as sponsored social media posts or paid ads. Organizers of these posts have invested money to get their content in front of you and others who fit certain demographics they want to target. When considering social media ads, a common question we often get from organizations is, “Is it worth it?” 


The short answer is, yes. Ads are a great way to increase followers and get content in front of a new audience. But like any decision you make on social media, there should be a well-thought-out strategy to it. Consider the following: 




Compared to traditional advertising, investing in social media ads can be relatively affordable, depending on your outreach goals. To start, typically $50 to $100 can earn you good engagement. If your organization has accounts on multiple platforms, you can consider investing in multiple paid ads too, if it makes sense. For example, you may have more followers on Facebook, but your content would be important for the business community, so putting money behind a LinkedIn post could be beneficial. 


Paid vs. Organic Posts


So how do ads work differently than regular posts? 


Organic posts are geared toward your established audience and are used to inform and engage them. When your organization posts organically on social media, your content will reach your followers and their followers, if they share your content. You may also reach non-followers if you use common or trending hashtags. 


Paid posts are intended to reach new audiences and should have more of a distinct purpose. This could be to gain new followers, promote an important initiative or event, raise brand awareness or drive sales. As with all social media strategies, you should have a clear plan for why you are paying for this content to be boosted. Just because you have a great photo, graphic or video doesn’t mean you should promote it so more people can view it, no matter how many prompts you receive from the platform. Make your decision based on why the content would be beneficial for people outside of your audience to see.


The Basics


As with traditional ads, you can choose how long you’d like your paid social content to run. This doesn’t mean the content disappears after the campaign is over, but rather how long the social media platform will continue to target a new audience. How long you want to run the campaign depends on the details of your content. If this is your first paid post and there is no clear time it needs to run, generally one or two weeks is a good place to start.


One of the best advantages of paid posts is the ability to create a targeted audience, so it’s important you think strategically about who your content is meant for. To get the most out of your investment, narrow down details like gender, age range, location, education and interests to develop a precise target. Sometimes it may make sense to include a broad audience but targeting specific demographics will get you the most benefits. 


Choosing a Platform to Run Ads


All major social media platforms include ad features, and you’ll want to be strategic on what channels to pursue ad opportunities for. This goes back to the importance of knowing what demographic you want to target. LinkedIn is great for targeting a professional audience, Instagram works well for reaching an audience under 30 and Facebook is used most by adults over 50. Research current social media trends to help make your decision too. The Pew Research Center is a great resource for reliable and up-to-date data.


As with most new approaches to your communications plan, a walk-jog-run approach is best when it comes to investing in social media ads, so don’t feel like you need to invest a lot right away. See what a small amount gets you and give paid campaigns time to take effect. While you will see higher engagement numbers right away, it might take a few campaigns to hit your stride.


Be selective on what content you want to promote. Focus on posts that are intended to promote brand awareness, sales, important information or events. As you invest in more ads, you’ll find they can increase your followers and overall engagement across your page.


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