The Future of Social Advertising

Posted by Nick Mattar

Feb 16

Personal Social Sharing, Advertising Credits and Facebook Video: The Future of Social Advertising

10 years ago, social media marketing consisted of businesses asking individuals to post on their behalf on popular social media sites and blogs.  Bloggers would write about products while younger consumers would be paid to post about products on their MySpace or Facebook accounts.  At first, these methods were clever and could bring hordes of new hits to websites.  However, the general public quickly grew weary of this practice and personal sharing of professional products went out of style.

Since the early to mid-2000s, businesses have consistently found new ways to utilize social media for growth.  In response, those social media sites have launched entire enterprises centered around business and putting business content in front of consumers.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and now even Snapchat have developed substantial business ventures.  In fact, Hootsuite estimates that social media advertising budgets will total over $31 billion in 2016.

At some point, the social media advertising bubble has to burst.  After all, that aforementioned $31 billion is double 2015’s totals.  Plus, the cost to get recognized nationwide on social media is becoming outrageously high.  If you want to purchase a promoted trending topic on Twitter, it will set you back around $200,000 per day.  Or, if you want to sponsor a Snapchat lens, you could spend over $750,000 for peak times.

So, what is the future of social media advertising?  Will it continue to bring in millions of dollars for the social media titans?  Or will companies find other, more effective ways at advertising online?

The answer is likely closer to the latter.

The astronomical rise in social media ad spending cannot continue.  Digital marketers will wise up and find new avenues to share their message on social media without breaking the bank.  Here are four ways to work around those expensive social media ads.

1. Focus on personal sharing

Most people on Facebook and Twitter are smart enough to realize when they are being presented with an ad or promoted tweet.  The native advertising format inherently present in social media has made consumers more skeptical and weary of even those organic posts that harmlessly provide news and information.  Thus, the focus is now shifting back to personal sharing.

Back in 2014, Facebook made an update to their algorithm that shifted the power of social media from business to the individual.  They studied their customers’ behaviors and found that people trust their close friends more than business pages.  This should not come as a surprise, but it is important to reiterate the fact that individuals sharing your business’s cause will go a long way – possibly even further than an expensive ad.

So do not just post your new status update on your business page – get your brand ambassadors to do the same! If an individual with 2,000 Facebook friends writes an organic post about your business, it will almost always perform better than if he or she shares your business’s original post.

2. Accumulate special offers and credits

With social media advertising becoming a major money grab for social networks, it is no wonder that they are all investing time and resources into their own advertising platforms. But that also means digital marketers get to experiment with these new platforms at low costs.

LinkedIn is notorious for handing out $50 ad credits to get people to try out their advertising program.  Once you enroll in their marketing program, you will receive all sorts of offers and credits via email.

Surprisingly, Google also hands out credits seemingly in bunches, as they are looking to expand their AdWords Express program.  Once you sign up for an AdWords Express account, as long as you do not launch an ad within the first few days, you will likely receive a credit to use toward your first set of AdWords.  However, both Google and LinkedIn will require you to spend some money before redeeming the credit.

Facebook and Twitter have very robust advertising programs, but they sometimes will offer ad credits as long as you sign up for their advertiser newsletter.  These newsletters are great opportunities for you to stay abreast of the latest social media advertising technology as it relates to targeting, reach and display. Plus, you will be part of an early adopter group that can use those newest features as soon as they become available.

An additional tactic is to talk to these social sites’ marketing or advertising specialists.  All of the major networks have departments of support specialists who want to help you create strong ads (and spend money with them).  One conversation with a specialist can lead to an ad credit or other coupon – and you may also learn a little bit more about the platform.

Living off advertising credits is no way to maintain a social media advertising strategy, but those credits can certainly boost a few of your campaigns and your knowledge of available advertising options. 

3. Try out Facebook Video

Most digital marketers are aware of Facebook’s recent claim that they would be all video in five years. Most digital marketers are also aware that to make that claim come true, Facebook will need to change the posting habits of people and businesses alike.

Enter Facebook video.

Of the four different types of organic posts you can publish on Facebook, video averages the greatest reach by far.  While your photos may get some good engagement and your text statuses could accrue some likes, videos will get the most views and keep eyes on your content the longest.

Contrary to popular opinion, there are no barriers to entry in the video production space.  You can start posting video by simply grabbing a clip on your phone and sending to the Facebook app.  With phone cameras becoming so advanced, the difference between a professional clip and an amateur phone shot is miniscule, especially on a mobile device.  90% of Facebook users check the social network on their phones, which diminishes the need to professionally produce videos.

If you are at a live event or have some timely video to shoot, try out Facebook Live. The live video feature will automatically alert all of your page’s followers that you are filming live at that very moment.  Some users have started disabling those notifications, but you are still likely to reach your unengaged followers.  

So go ahead and start creating some marketing videos to post on Facebook.  Chances are, you will see greater reach than if that post was written as a straight text update.

4. Keep focusing on personal sharing

This bears repeating.  Reach out to your brand ambassadors and ask them to post your message to their networks.  The fact is, people trust their friends more than brands. But if friends post positive information about a brand, that material will be consumed and trusted more than if it was provided to them via advertisements.

To ensure your brand ambassadors follow your protocol and post your information in the proper format, consider creating a social media toolkit with exact posts they can copy and paste.  To measure the effectiveness of these posts, make sure each post includes a link to your website and create links for each brand ambassador.  These allow you to track who brings new visitors and leads to your website.

In conclusion…

Some of the most successful small business social media advertising campaigns have come at little or no expense.  You can bring hundreds to thousands of new visitors or followers by hunting around different social sites for effective advertising techniques.  Investigate the latest offerings from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and other new sites that pop up in the future.  In the face of rising social media advertising budgets, there are many free and inexpensive alternatives that can improve your social media strategy.

Topics: advertising

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