In short, yes it can work - but that does not mean that it is easy or that it works for everybody. Read on to see how you can make your social media advertising as efficient as possible.
Today in 2020, we may already be at the point where marketeers the world over now prioritise a ‘digital first’ approach - putting digital channels to the top of their list when it comes to budgeting and campaign creation.
This shift in direction from offline to on is most obvious in the world of advertising. It has
been seven years since global spend on digital advertising overtook newspaper ad sales, and 2020 is the first year that global digital ad spend is projected to overtake television advertising, too.
Of course, there is no such single entity as ‘online advertising’ - once you make the decision
to go digital, you still have to choose from a number of different channels. In the first decade
or so of the internet, display ads were king, only to be comprehensively overtaken in the past
decade by paid search.
There is third major online advertising option which in recent years divided opinion as to its
value and effectiveness. Today, social media advertising is a no-brainer. When you
can reach more than 2.6 billion on Facebook alone, up to 1 billion on Instagram and and use public profile information to target campaigns, the loudest argument is: how could social advertising not work?
Others, however, still try to claim that social media advertising is an unnecessary use of what is
already a great marketing resource. Social media provides a great platform for companies to
engage with and enter dialogues with target audiences, to build brand equity and trust
through interaction, not sales pitches.
Various studies have claimed in the past that, despite the high exposure, social media advertising does not deliver high click-through rates (CTRs) or conversions. They comment that clients are better off therefore investing time and money in campaigns which encourage people to follow your social channels because they value your brand, rather than on advertising.
The difference of opinion here pivots on the division between the modern ‘inbound’ marketing techniques which have emerged with digital, and traditional sales-focused approaches like advertising. You often hear people argue that digital marketing works best when brands can leverage quality content and direct engagement to build a loyal following, with customers choosing to come to them because they like what they are about rather than just because they have seen an ad.
Social media advertising is coming of age
Inbound marketing has its place, and can certainly be a more useful vehicle for building brand equity than the messages you can communicate in a confined space in an advertisement. But
to suggest that it is more important than online advertising is a little short sighted. If that was
the case, we wouldn't be seeing Google’s advertising revenue increase year-on- year,
with advertising accounting for around 87 percent of its income.
Simply put, people don't spend that much money on something that doesn't work.
As we argued in an older blog on the merits of SEO versus pay-per-click search
advertising, online ads generate higher conversion rates than organic search results,
because they appeal to people who are ready to buy. It makes little sense to ignore that
aspect of the market in favour of an entirely inbound approach.
But why does social media advertising deliver lower CTRs than paid search? This has in the past troubled many marketers because social media companies essentially copy the Google Pay-per- click approach. However, it can be explained by the fact that Google has spent the past three decades modifying and refining its advertising service, whereas social media companies are relatively late entrants into the market.
Google has invested huge amounts in targeting technology, matching the most relevant
adverts to each search user. It is the sophistication of its approach that delivers such good
CTRs and conversions. Now, social media is on the same path, with many advantages in the terms of the information it can use to target adverts based on user interests and behaviours. With algorithms as good as those used by Google to match advert with audience, we can expect to see social media ad campaign performance continue on this upward trajectory.
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