Paying to play on social media

Despite rumors to the contrary, it’ll cost you if you want to run a successful social media program.

It’ll cost you both time and money, not to mention all the skills and experience you’ll need to help ensure a positive outcome.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no more gravy train when it comes to social media success. There is simply too much competition among businesses and brands for eyeballs and wallets for any of these channels to be able to afford to give you a free ride.

Organic reach has declined precipitously. Algorithms rule.

You’ve got to pay if you want to play – and win – on social media.

Seriously, have you looked at the statistics lately?

Unless you’re paying to promote them, you’re lucky nowadays if your messages are reaching in the vicinity of 5% of your audience on Facebook and much less than that on Twitter.


Unless you’re a celebrity or an iconic brand name, the chances of your voice being heard are few and far between.

All is not lost, however. Far from it. Social media is still in the throes of its emergence as the biggest revolution in communications since the printing press.

Being active on these newfangled online channels is not an option, it’s a necessity.

Think of social media like you would TV and radio. From building the audiences to providing the lion’s share of the content, the channels themselves have done a lot of the work already for their advertisers.

While you’re not interrupting anyone with a commercial announcement on social media, you are piggybacking on the popularity of a particular medium. Not only do you need a steady cadence of organic content scheduled to be disseminated at all hours of the day, you need to promote at least some of your posts in order to reach the right people at the right time with words and pictures they simply can’t ignore.

For those who are looking for you, make sure they can find you. Be conspicuous in your presence on social media with a variety of quality content that is optimized for search, sales, marketing, PR and branding.

But don’t take a strong presence alone for granted. It’s simply not enough anymore. Don’t overlook the importance of paying to play on these channels.

On Twitter, your first step should be to enable Twitter Cards, of course, which make it possible for you to provide a rich, robust media experience to your audience, whether you’re advertising or not.

Once that’s behind you, run campaigns to increase followers, engagement, clicks and traffic. There are many different campaign types you can deploy there, but one of the easiest might be Twitter’s Quick Promote tool, which will help you put your very best content in front of a much larger audience in a short period of time.


On Facebook, pay to promote your page and posts. Drive fans to your website. Attract an audience for a special event. Raise awareness of your products and services. Find local customers. Increase the number of app installs or white paper downloads. Move your constituents to take action in some way, shape or form that deepens their relationship with you and your brand.

LinkedIn. Instagram. YouTube. Pinterest. It’s pretty much the same no matter which social media channel you use. Choose your audience, determine your budget and go full speed ahead. In most cases, it’s like bidding at an auction. You’re deciding how much you’re willing to pay to have people who are predisposed to doing business with you see your ad and react to it. You’re in the driver’s seat.

How much should you be budgeting for these initiatives? In addition to all of the required time and resources, both human and technological, you’ve got to pony up, but there’s no magic number. Your mileage will vary.

According to this article, “social media marketing has accounted for about 11.7% of marketing budgets this year,” but how much of that exactly was allocated toward advertising remains unclear. We do know that worldwide spending on social media advertising is projected to eclipse $30 billion this year.

It doesn’t matter how much you yourself spend, though, as long as you are at least heading in that direction, beginning to carve out a modicum of dollars to be allocated toward advertising on social media. After all, if you’re not paying to play now, you’ll find yourself falling quickly behind your competition on these channels, if you’re not already out of the picture.


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