A social media advertising budget used to be an add-on, reserved to boost special content for brands already crushing the online engagement game.
However, businesses that used to enjoy thousands of fans consistently interacting with their social media content have experienced a significant drop-off. Posts now garner meager levels of interaction and it seems only a fraction of a brand's following ever sees content organically.
Welcome to the new reality—the one where your business needs a social media advertising budget.
“The initial promise of social media was free media, and it's not free anymore," says Phil Gerbyshak, a social media educator and keynote speaker focusing on digital sales strategies
It's no longer enough to create and share. Gone is the expectation that your audience is champing at the bit the moment you click “post."
—Phil Gerbyshak, social media educator
Businesses are now up against sophisticated algorithms and platforms that want to use your brand's fans to generate revenue for their platform. So how can your business make the shift from cruising the freeway filled with organic, active fans to spending wisely on a communication path that's become a toll road?
It all comes down to developing a strategy for establishing, evaluating and maintaining a social media advertising budget.
The Startup Costs
Corey Perlman, author of Social Media Overload, knows how easy it is for the new social media pay-to-play landscape to overwhelm businesses of any size.
The good news, however, is that launching a social advertising campaign doesn't have to crush your budget.
“You can boost a post on many social sites for as little as $5 and it goes up from there," says Perlman. “The platform will give you the size of audience you can reach based on your budget and you can make incremental adjustments on spend from there."
The key to establishing a smart social media advertising budget, however, is understanding where your target audience spends their time.
“I'm a big proponent of not being a Jack-of-all-social-media-sites, master of none," Perlman says. "Instead, we encourage our clients to pick the channels their customers and prospects frequent most and invest there."
Focusing Your Content and Advertising Spend
You know social advertising entry costs are low. Fantastic.
You've got a solid idea where your idea customer hangs out online. Brilliant.
But how do you get those engagement numbers back up and make the money you allocate for your social media advertising budget work to deliver you the results you crave?
Your business needs a plan—a map that helps you determine what to do each day, each week, each month to see real, measurable results. Whether searching for email signups, sales or shares, effective social media ad spends all begin with the same thing: relevant content.
“Be strategic on what you boost by only boosting content that either has a strong call to action or is newsworthy enough to warrant the cost," Perlman says.
This means boosting everything you post, all week long, probably isn't going to net you the engagement results you seek. Instead, try being specific about what you want a post or advertisement to net for your brand and then target your advertising audience to generate those results.
“Each platform is and always will be tweaking the free algorithm to be more and more relevant to the user," says Gerbyshak. “If you're relevant, and you invest money, you're much more likely to get in front of your ideal customers and prospects than without advertising."
Let's break down relevancy. Relevancy is all about the pain points your target demographic has and how your message can help alleviate those pains.
We follow clothing brands because they suit our style. Food brands and chefs because they suit our lifestyle. Business services because they make our work lives easier. This means creating content specific to your brand and highlighting the relief your content promises the consumer.
Then it's about using that relevant content to spin-off even more relevant content to reach your audience on a deeper level. Perlman offers this illustration:
“I recommend starting with one piece of content per week. An article, a video, an infographic. Get that posted on your LinkedIn personal page and all over social. For the rest of the week, break that piece of content into bite size pieces and share via your other channels. If I were a dentist, and I wrote an article about the '5 Ways to Avoid Bad Breath,' I'd give each of those tips throughout the week on social and lead it back to my article on LinkedIn."
Yet, how do you navigate staying top-of-mind and visible through a strategically spent social media advertising budget and spending into an abyss?
“It's a fine line," Gerbyshak says, "but if you invest money in your best content, and it performs well, your cost per view and cost per lead will stay down."
While adding a social media advertising budget won't cure all that might ail your brand, it's a strategic step. It may help recoup the engagement lost by ever-changing algorithms and temper the realization that your fan base is now a tool platforms use to make money from you.
You can kick and you can cuss, but the revenue model is here to stay. You can build a social advertising strategy that grows more effective with each ad or boost with the help of:
- low startup costs,
- an eye towards content that's relevant to your audience,
- choosing your boosted content wisely and
- knowing your desired results.
These points can help keep your allocated budget in check instead of blown-through, while attracting the audience you most want to reach.
Read more articles on social media strategy.