When should brands invest in paid social?

August 24, 2017

We get this question from our clients a lot: When should I invest in paid social?

Our answer: If you’re investing in social media marketing at all, you should have a paid social program. In a 2016 report, Gartner analyst Jay Wilson was as clear and direct as you’ll ever hear an analyst: “Sustained success in social marketing now requires paid advertising.” Organic alone isn’t cutting it anymore—it’s time for brands that are serious about building their social presence to put their money where their mouths are. 

As with every element of a successful PR program, each piece of your paid social approach should support your overall PR and business goals. The two goals paid social supports best? Lead generation and driving awareness. Think about what you want to achieve and navigate backward from there.

If your sales team needs more leads to grow its numbers, craft a campaign that supports a gated piece of content. Webinars, case studies and e-books are great examples of content that provide a lot of value to the prospect while securing their contact info for your sales team. As a crucial bonus, these pieces of content will ensure that any leads that end up with your sales team are well-versed in how your product or service can help them. 

On the other hand, if your brand is gearing up to launch a new product, you want to prepare the market with an awareness campaign. Think about building a program that targets key influencers in your industry with top-of-funnel, ungated content like blog posts or videos. When you launch the product, your target audience will already be familiar not only with your brand, but also the value proposition of the product. 

But what if you’re just getting started? The key to all of this is making sure your paid campaigns support what you are already doing with organic social. Make sure you already have a baseline of organic presence. Not only will this give your audience something to look at once they land on your profile, but it’ll help you understand what works and what doesn’t. Look at the tone that seems to resonate most, what time of day your posts perform best and what audience is most interested in your content. 

Your follower count is a vanity metric, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we said vanity metrics never matter. Sometimes, pushing your social presence over a key threshold can help your brand look more established for the audience you really care about when they visit your profile. If you’re new to social media, a follower campaign can help you build a foundation. Remember: be targeted. Getting in front of an audience that you don’t care about won’t do anything to advance your goals. 

Being on social media has been a no-brainer for brands for a while now. It’s time to get on board with paid, too. 

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