Surveying the Paid Social Landscape: An Interview

In anticipation of Young Women in Digital Boston's next event, "The Role of Paid Social Media," happening on April 26th at 6:00 p.m., YWD sat down with Ashley Ryall, founder of UntapSocial and social media extraordinaire, to get the lowdown on the state of paid social media.

WHY IS PAID SOCIAL IMPORTANT FOR MARKETERS TO TAKE NOTE OF THESE DAYS?

While organic still has its flare (and Google continues to refine its algorithm to give consumers the content they’ve searched for), recent studies show that sponsored posts rank highest amongst marketers for best return on investment (and if we’re picking favorites, B2C marketers say Facebook advertising is the No. 1 best marketing opportunity). Paid advertising options on the big social channels have matured, offering marketers more sophisticated targeting options to reach their core audiences. 

WHAT SORT OF METRICS SHOULD BE USED TO EVALUATE THE SUCCESS OF A PAID SOCIAL CAMPAIGN?

Clicks and new followers are great, but the best way to measure success of a paid social campaign is if -- and for how long -- you captured your audience’s attention, and whether or not they took action after experiencing your ad or boosted post. Instead of tracking impressions, look for number of shares, comments or downloads, as well as how long people stayed to watch your video. 

HOW SHOULD BRANDS DETERMINE THE BEST PLATFORM TO CAPITALIZE ON, IN THE HOPE OF YIELDING THE GREATEST ROI?

Online marketing hubs rank the big platforms for best paid social ROI, but truthfully, it all comes down to where online your customer likes to hang out. If you sell employee benefits solutions, and your ideal customers are executives, LinkedIn sponsored updates will most likely give you a better bang for your buck than Instagram ads. Spend some time and resources looking at which of your posts have the strongest engagement, and identify the types of content that typically perform best. Then, create a paid social campaign around that type of content. 

WHAT ARE SOME BEST PRACTICES FOR DETERMINING THE TYPE OF CONTENT TO INCORPORATE INTO SPONSORED POSTS? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR MAKING SPONSORED POSTS FEEL AUTHENTIC AND PROVIDE VALUE TO THE USER, AS OPPOSED TO FEELING LIKE ANOTHER AD?

Start with a specific goal, like getting registrants for an upcoming event, attracting new followers or customers to your Facebook page, or collecting email addresses in exchange for your latest eBook, “7 Things to Consider When Buying New Running Shoes.” Then, identify a piece of content that your ideal customer will benefit from consuming. Content that is successful in an ad or sponsored post is mentally digestible, draws emotion, is helpful or entertaining, and offers a solution to a pain point your customer faces.

Social media sites have one mission: to continue to improve how their newsfeed algorithm works to put content in front of you that you’ll enjoy and want more of. Therefore, if you want more people to consume your sponsored content, the quality of your post will determine its relevancy (and success). 

click to tweet: The best and most successful ads don’t look like ads at all. #paidsocial #FacebookAds @aryall @untapsocial

The best and most successful ads don’t look like ads at all. Sponsored content that is authentic and provides value is informative, not sales-y (rid of too many exclamation points) or stuffed with keywords, and is positioned correctly within the newsfeed. Make sure your paid social content will display in "Desktop" and mobile feeds, not in a Column. The way we naturally use social media platforms is by scrolling through our feed. Our minds subconsciously associate columns to the right or left as space for advertisements and are often lost in the shuffle.

SOME OTHER HELPFUL TIPS FOR A GOOD PAID SOCIAL CAMPAIGN:

  • Videos perform extremely well as paid social content.

  • Facebook limits you to 20% text on your ad and they are very strict with this guideline (use their grid tool to save yourself some time).

  • Use numbers for snackable content. For example, “3 Dont's for Weight Loss” or “8 Steps to Becoming More Confident in the Workplace.”

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT'S THE "PLATFORM TO WATCH" IN 2016, AND WHY SHOULD MARKETERS PAY ATTENTION TO HOW IT PLAYS INTO THE SOCIAL MEDIA LANDSCAPE?

Live broadcasting mobile tools and apps are the platforms to watch in 2016. Snapchat is looking to improve how businesses leverage it to better attract talent and new customers, while Facebook Live is expanding its access outside of beta, testing celebrities who use it to position themselves as thought leaders and advocates for the causes they care about most. Periscope (with a reported 10 million users and 200 million broadcasts to date as it celebrates its first birthday) is the true essence of successful live broadcasting used as a marketing tactic. It allows anyone to be an influencer and share real-time stories through homegrown video (instead of that corporate, stuffy, edited junk). Also, keep Anchor, an audio broadcasting app, on your radar.

(Original source: YWD blog)

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what is your biggest challenge with paid social media ads? 

comment below so I can help answer them.