26 May 2015
For some brands in the last couple of years, organic social media engagement numbers look like they've fallen off a cliff.
It may have been possible to get good engagement and traction on social networks like Facebook organically in the early days. But new brands looking to get engagement now find it extremely hard, while businesses that may have done well in the past are just not getting the same numbers they're used to, even though they might be using the same previously successful community management tactics.
One important factor is a change of algorithm. Facebook's mysterious PageRank is unknown externally, but commentators claim that there has been a definite downgrading of brand posts in the last couple of years.
More likely though, it's about space. With the huge numbers of users jostling for attention on your average newsfeed, there's too much noise to get through to reach the audience you'll ideally want.
Why paid social media matters
And so the one big emerging trend in B2B social media is the use of paid social media advertising. According to Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing report, 70% of marketers were looking to increase their spending on social media advertising.
It's not enough for a company, especially in the B2B sector, to create great compelling content for a social media post. They also have to think about distributing it to the right audience – businesses now have to think about putting a budget behind that LinkedIn post.
For many companies, organic engagement resulting from community management just isn’t cutting it anymore. And it's getting to the point where it can be more cost-effective to pay for clicks rather than spend money on a community manager.
Reaching the right audiences
All the major social networks, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, offer a paid advertising service. For users, it’s accepted (or perhaps the word is ‘unavoidable’). It's very likely that you'll be exposed to paid advertising ads in your normal browsing experience.
One of the big benefits of using social media is the way you can target them to a specific, suitable audience. With a normal social post, it can almost be like publish and hope for the best – there's no guarantee that it'll reach any of the type of customers that you're looking for.
But with paid social on Facebook and Twitter for example, you have options to target users based on values such as location, interests and behaviour, reaching users who are more inclined to engage with the content you'll be creating.
Why content still matters
It's not just a matter of paying for clicks though. B2B firms still need to put significant investment in creating the content that will be distributed through paid social media – the posts themselves and also the content those posts are linking to, such as landing pages and blog posts.
They need designers and coders who can create effective digital destinations, as well as the writers filling them up with persuasive marketing language and stories the audience wants to read. It’ll also need other links created, such as CTAs and email submission forms, to get customers on the next stage of the customer journey.
You also need to think about content formats like video, Vines and infographics, which can be particularly consumable and sharable on social media. In combination with a budget for social media advertising, it can be a very effective method for getting the ROI you're looking for.
The value of paid social
In marketing, social advertising is still an undervalued and under-invested area compared to tactics like paid search. But as time goes on, more and more B2B companies will use it in combination with their existing digital marketing tactics.
One other thing to note. In paid search, once a user has clicked on the paid link, the transaction is often pretty much completed. But with paid social, the advertising post still has the potential to be organically shared if the content is particularly engaging. And this is another reason why the content creation needs to be on point, tactically and creatively sound.
If you’re looking for more tips on paid social, here’s advice on how to run successful B2B social media advertising campaigns.