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Social media; paid-for advertising

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Social media is classed as a free marketing platform. And if you use it well with great content and easy management then it can be. However, it can be very difficult to grow your audience organically, and particularly on Facebook, for that amazing content that you’ve crafted and planned to actually reach many of your followers. Social media platforms soon cottoned on to the fact that they were going to have to make some money somehow, and the main way they do this on the platform is by businesses paying for advertising. This comes in a variety of forms so we’re just going to outline the options for each.

Facebook

Since they floated on the stock market, Facebook has been keener than ever to make money. That means that there are a number of ways you can pay for advertising. You can boost posts to a specified audience, promote your page to a new audience and create adverts that show up either in news feeds or in the side panel. They also provide great analytics so you can A/B test and monitor spend and conversions easily.

Twitter

You might not have spotted paid-for advertising on Twitter because it can appear better camouflaged than Facebook posts. However, Twitter have a great business centre with lots of advice on advertising and how to use it most effectively for your desired outcome. Twitter offer promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends. They also have great analytics so you can understand the value of your campaign and monitor it closely.

Instagram

Instagram introduced paid-for advertising at the end of 2014 and so far it seems to be mainly large brands such as Levis and Michael Kors. The way it works is that the business pays for a photo to be promoted to people who don’t follow their Instagram account. Instagram have recently launched a new form which means that the advert can list more than one picture in a carousel format. People can click on the image and say whether or not it is appropriate for them so that ads can be targeted better.

Pinterest

Again, similar to the other, on Pinterest you can promote certain pins to targeted users. You decide which pin to promote, work out which categories of people you want to target and then you only pay for the click-throughs to your website. Again, Pinterest have an analytics tool so you can monitor and evaluate your campaign.

YouTube

As YouTube are now part of Google, it makes sense that advertising on YouTube comes through your AdWords account. You use one of your videos as the ad and then you can write specific advertising copy to run alongside it. With YouTube advertising you tend to pay (and set) a Cost Per View (CPV), but you can set an overall budget to make sure you don’t overspend. AdWords gives you detailed analytics to test your campaigns and monitor them.

But don’t just blindly start paying for advertising on social media. You should start by planning what your social media is meant to do for your business, write a content plan and grow your followers. Then assess the merits of paid advertising and work out what you want to get out of it, and whether that form of advertising works for you. With each platform you can set your budget so it can be a relatively cheap form of marketing, and is useful for testing ideas.

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