Should I Advertise On Social Media?

Advertising on social media

By Stephanie McCormick

We are often asked by businesses if they should advertise on social media. The answer? It depends on which platform you are talking about.

The Main Player: Facebook

In terms of Facebook, the answer is definitely yes. The changes to the Facebook algorithm have made advertising essential, and businesses must allocate a budget towards promotions (which can include advertisements and boosted posts) if they want to achieve results.

The algorithm has made it a lot harder for businesses to reach their followers organically – that is, without advertising. The changes have effectively given microphones to businesses willing to pay for ads, and have turned down the volume for companies that aren’t.

While the Facebook changes aim to make the experience better for the user – by providing them with quality, interesting content on their news feeds – they have hit businesses hard, especially those who don’t want to accept the changes.

Basically, Facebook is no longer a ‘free’ platform, and your presence will only be felt if you advertise. Organic reach just isn’t going to get you where you want to go anymore. It’s as simple as that.

What About Other Platforms?

In terms of other platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+, the type of business you are running can affect whether advertising is worthwhile.

LinkedIn

Targeted advertising aimed at key decision makers and companies can be beneficial for B2B companies on LinkedIn. Like Facebook, LinkedIn offers several different methods of ad targeting and methods of setting an advertising budget (by clicks or impressions), and has no long-term contracts, which is a bonus for businesses wanting to give LinkedIn advertising a try.

Twitter

Advertising on Twitter is not currently available for small businesses in Australia, and is generally considered expensive, although some products allow you to set your own budget. Advertising through a promoted trend, one method of advertising on the platform, costs upwards of $200,000.

Google+

Google+ Post Ads are now available for businesses who meet three conditions:

  1. They have over 1000 followers;
  2. The ads must include content that is relevant to their audience; and
  3. The business must have opted in to shared endorsements for Google+ pages.

These ads, which are created through Ad Words, can be used to engage other users. People can comment on the ad, share it, or join a live Hangout On Air. An advantage of +Post ads is once the ad campaign is over, the posts will become searchable on Google Search, essentially keeping the ad alive.

Despite these benefits, the audiences of most Australian businesses would not be large enough to make a substantial investment in advertising on Google+ worthwhile at this stage.

Instagram and Pinterest

Instagram has recently introduced advertising, which may be a great option for some businesses. However, only time will tell on how they will be received.  Instagram users in the US, where the ads are currently being tested, have the option of hiding ads they don’t like and giving Instagram their feedback.

It has been rumoured that Pinterest may introduce advertising by the end of 2014, which could provide another opportunity for businesses who have a presence there.

Where Should You Put Your Money?

At the moment, Facebook. Although it requires advertising to a greater degree than other platforms, it is also one of the easiest for purchasing ads, and for measuring their results. No matter how tight your budget, you can’t afford not to advertise here if you want to make the most of your social media strategy.

Connect with Steph on Twitter.

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