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Study: Paid Advertising Most Successful Social Tactic

In advertising, the greater the ROI and success of a campaign, the more the advertiser is willing to spend in the future. This is NOT new news. Social media is a relatively new advertising space for both those in the B2B and B2C spaces. Although there are a number of platforms and tools, such as Wildfire and PowerEditor, currently available where businesses and marketers can optimize their ad campaigns, many social advertisers aren't satisfied with what their current social media ad spend results are. A recently published study, "The Key to Successful Social Advertising," from Kenshoo Social and conducted by Forrester Consulting evaluated how marketers are using social advertising in an effort to determine what trends are taking place and what social media strategies are the most successful. Here's what the study found and tips for more successful social ad spending.

The Key to Successful Social Advertising

Social media ad spend is on the rise, according to an article from It's estimated to hit $11 billion within the next 4 years. But how can a business be more successful with their spending? Forrester Consulting surveyed a large number of social advertisers, whose companies spend more than $100,000 per year on social media ads, in February of 2013 and found that while social media advertisers use a wide range of organic and paid strategies across a wide variety of social networks, more than one in three are not satisfied with their current efforts. The three main takeaways from the study are:

  • Organic posting is the most popular social tactic — but paid advertising is the most successful tactic.
  • Social advertisers still aren’t using advanced optimization tactics.
  • Social advertisers should pay for promoted content to drive awareness and buy ads to drive sales.

Only 1/3 of those that were surveyed use granular targeting to reach the right audiences and most of those who do target specific audiences are often using standard tactics such as by targeting by demographic. All of the advertisers in the survey use paid social advertising tactics, but they were more likely to implement organic tactics than to use paid ads across the board. The study also found that the tactic that satisfied social advertisers used more was paying to promote content on general social networks. We broke down some of the key numbers that show the current state of social advertising:

  • 8% of social media/advertising professionals who said that they were “satisfied” with paid social media advertising pay to promote content on social networks and 7% create branded social applications. 
  • 60% of those polled rotate through multiple creatives (e.g., images, copy) when buying ads or paying to promote content on social media and 35% target many small, specific audiences.
  • Fewer than 25% of social advertisers use tools to either manage their bids or manage their creative.

How to Spend with Social Ads

While organic posting on social media may be more popular, your business may be more successful by paying for ads. In order to get the most bang for your buck however, you have to make sure you have clear objectives and metrics. Having a strategy in place before you spend a single dollar is vital. Here are a few things you'll want to consider as you develop your social ad strategy. 

  • Set your goals. Whether it's creating awareness, attempts to drive new social fans and followers, or increasing purchases or loyalty, determine what your goals are and how social advertising can help you achieve those things. 
  • Get granular. Aim to retarget and reach current and potential customer based on their interests and activities. Currently, only 41% of social media advertising professionals target based on users' interests. 
  • Pay to share content, not just sales pitches. We all know content marketing is queen. What Kenshoo found is that satisfied social advertisers who used promoted content were more satisfied with their campaigns’ ability to create brand awareness. 
  • Pick strong CTAs. According to Kenshoo, social advertisers may feel freer to use strong calls-to-action in social ads than in posts that appear in the streams of their existing users and that can lead to better conversion rates. 
  • Take advantage of retargeting. While you may feel constrained by the tools you use, look for ways to retarget your audience more effectively. It takes multiple impressions for a brand to stick with a consumer, so make sure you aren't creating a lot of one-off impressions, but are instead focused on retargeting the right audience.

Social advertising is a great way for your business to build brand or product awareness. It's also a great way for you to increase your email database for future outreach. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am doesn't work with social media or advertising, so understanding how to target/retarget and how your business can take a more holistic approach is important. In order to be more successful, test and measure your current strategy, redefine your approach and then benchmark your results to see what works and what doesn't for your business.