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Paid social advertising is not a dirty tactic

Buying social media followers and likes is bad. But paying for well-targeted social advertising is a savvy way to improve your reach on social and complement your organic efforts.

When you find out that the cost to reach 1,000 people on Facebook via paid social advertising is $12 (£9.44), it’s clear to see the returns. Couple such an ad campaign with a well-planned organic strategy and you have everything you need to meet your social goals.

So, while we don’t advocate putting all your eggs in one basket, paid social can be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. Learn how to leverage it to the greatest effect and how it can add value to the rest of your posts in the long term.

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Benefits of paid social advertising

Still not convinced? Here’s a rundown of the benefits of paid social ads and how they could improve your brand’s reach.

Get in front of your potential customers

It will come as no surprise that social media has changed over the years and it’s harder than ever to show up in your potential customers’ feeds. Putting an ad budget behind some carefully chosen posts means you’re guaranteed to reach your target audience.

Work within your budget

Most marketers dream of having endless budgets, but in reality, it’s simply not the case for the majority. Luckily, the social media ad model works on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis, meaning you can easily manage your ad spend and only pay for the traffic you actually receive.

Enhanced targeting

Social media now has unprecedented abilities to target your chosen audience, from selecting factors like interests, hobbies and personality types to creating lookalike audiences. You can even use retargeting tools to advertise to people who’ve previously visited your website.

Improve brand awareness

Too often the emphasis is on selling, but before potential customers buy from you, they need to know you exist. Paid social ads are an effective way to boost your brand awareness, improving your credibility and increasing interaction, paving the way for sales in the future.

Get eyes on your content

Creating content is an important part of a brand’s strategy, but it takes a lot of work to produce, so you want to make sure it’s seen by as much of your relevant audience as possible. Putting some of your ad budget behind it means you’ll already be drawing visitors into the buying funnel.

Be in your audience’s pocket

With 62.3 per cent of the world’s population being on social media, most companies can’t afford to dismiss these platforms. This equates to some 5.04 billion people and many of them are accessing social networks on their phone, meaning they’re taking your ads with them everywhere they go.

How paid social ads work

Like many areas of marketing, paid social ads can feel daunting to begin with, especially as each platform has its own nuances. A good social media management agency will be able to help you navigate the ins and outs of creating, posting and measuring the impact of your ads.

As a general rule, these are the steps towards building a paid social ads campaign:

Ad auction

Ad auctions are determined based on a number of criteria, including your bid, the quality of your ad and past performance. This is measured against the location where you’re looking to post, which could be the newsfeed or in Stories, as well as your targeted audience.

Setting objectives

All marketing activity should be carried out keeping objectives in mind and social ads are no exception. Choose whether you’re aiming for the top, middle or bottom of the funnel by selecting awareness, engagement or sales criteria.

Target audience

Pay special attention to the targeting options offered on each platform, as these will ensure your ad has the most impact. These include demographics, behaviours and retargeting preferences that will determine who sees your ad.


Organising your ads into groups and then into campaigns will help you to understand them much better. Such structures will maximise your ad spend, help to achieve the objectives you identified and target an appropriate audience.

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Tips to make the most of paid social

Social media specialists will be able to advise you of the specifics that work for the platforms you wish to advertise on. There are a number of techniques that are worth bearing in mind across all channels and as you start putting together a paid social strategy.

  • Learn from your data – information you’ve collected on your organic posts will inform which paid pieces are likely to perform well.
  • Use a combination of organic and paid posts – this will give you the best return on your advertising budget.
  • Take advantage of user-generated content – it’s one thing for you to say how great your brand is, but your audience is more likely to listen to their peers.
  • Perform A/B tests – try out a selection of formats and ad copy on each platform to get a true picture of performance.
  • Mix it – even if you discover one type of ad that does really well, be sure to use a selection, otherwise your campaigns will seem stale.