The Secret to Building the Right Following on Your Social Media Channels
Social media platforms are a mature marketing channel. If you want to be found by your ideal audiences, killer original content alone isn’t enough. If you want to broaden your reach and see a return on your investment in social media content, you have to pay.
Today, social media is pay to play, but it wasn’t always that way.
Do you remember your first social media experience?
Depending on your age, it may have been opening a MySpace account after all of your friends and family had already encouraged you to join.
It may have been sending instant messages through AOL Messenger. Back then, many people wondered how social media platforms were making money. Today, no one has to ask that question because we all know the answer.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are For Profit Channels
Many of the social platforms that have massive user counts today started as idealistic endeavors to connect people around the world in new, dynamic, open and thoughtful virtual communities. In his testimony before Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to balance the purpose of his company to connect people with its advertising-driven revenue model. He said:
“My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together. Advertisers and developers will never take priority over that, as long as I am running Facebook.”
Then, Mr. Zuckerberg provided a bit more insight into Facebook’s business model when he said, “We think offering an ad-supported service is the most aligned with our mission of trying to help connect everyone in the world, because we want to offer a free service that everyone can afford…That’s the only way that we can reach billions of people.”
One thing that should be clear to all is that advertising revenue is absolutely a part of the social infrastructure that Facebook and other popular social media channels have built, and are in the process of refining, and that it isn’t going anywhere.
That is good news for brands and businesses. While it means that you can’t effectively grow your audience for free, it does mean that you can view social media as a legit marketing channel, worthy of integrating into your campaigns and allocating budget dollars towards.
Adapt or Die
As we said earlier, pay to play has not always been the motto for creating a following on Facebook. But, the game has changed and if you want your brand to win new followers, prospects, customers and loyal advocates, you must change your mindset.
Facebook has more than 1 billion users worldwide. Over 62 percent of North Americans have an account. Facebook (and all the other popular social channels) make money by selling access to their users; by letting brands and businesses, like you, market their products and services to users.
The best thing you can do for your brand is to embrace this reality.
Building a following isn’t free, but it can be lucrative.
Let’s consider why:
- More than 75% of Instagram and Facebook users visit daily.
- 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day.
- YouTube reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable channel in the U.S.
- LinkedIn has over 530 million users and the average user spends 17 minutes on it per month.
There are loads more stats to share, but the point is simple — massive numbers of people are using social media today, which means they are worth thinking of like other mature marketing channels. Just like radio, TV, print and outdoor placements, social media platforms can put your brand in front of prospects.
The targeting capabilities of social media however, make it more possible than ever to reach your ideal audiences with timely, relevant and engaging messages.
Really Good Original Content Still Matters
In saying that social media has become a pay to play marketing medium, we’re not suggesting that you shouldn’t continue to invest your time and resources into compelling original content.
Social media sites want you to pay to put well-designed ads in front of the users most suited for them. This is to their benefit, your benefit and their users’ benefit because the right ad delivered at the right time to the right people results in a positive experience for all involved.
That’s the foundation of inbound marketing and what makes it so profitable.
But once you’ve hooked a prospect with a killer ad, you need to direct them to equally engaging content on your website or landing page.
Even more, that landing page or blog post must be part of a larger ecosystem of timely, relevant and engaging content. All that time and energy you’ve (hopefully) been putting into targeted email campaigns, informative blog posts, case studies and social media posts is the payoff for your ads.
Social Media Advertising is About Being Seen
Social media platforms make their money on advertising, just as newspapers, radio and television did before that. So it makes sense that they have now designed their infrastructures to magnify the reach of paid posts and limit the possibility of organic content from going viral.
This isn’t to say that you can’t create a firestorm of engagement organically, but it’s highly unlikely.
On average, brands only reach 6% of their audience on social media without using paid ads.
Now that you’ve spent all that effort creating compelling original content, how does it feel to know that you’ll only reach 6% of your audience with it?
Isn’t it worth spending some money to promote it and expand your reach?
Of course it is.
Be Smart With Your Social Media Ads
Hopefully by this point in the post, you’re warming to the idea of paying to promote your content and expand your reach on Facebook and other social channels. You might even feel an urgency to go on Facebook right now and run a campaign.
FOMO (fear of missing out) isn’t a wise foundation for your social media advertising efforts. Strategy based on research into what makes your customers tick and what ticks them off is.
Make social media advertising part of an integrated, research-driven strategy to connect with the right people at the right time and you’ll see the social results you’ve been striving for.
The 8-Step Facebook Advertising Campaign
When you’re spending cold hard cash to promote your content, being able to measure and evaluate your success is critical. Use this checklist to properly plan, post, and optimize your Facebook ads in 8 steps.