As brand organic social content is downweighted, more and more brands are turning to paid social to reach users online. 

The benefits don’t just stop at increased visibility - paid social ads can give brands greater control over audience targeting, as well as a valuable presence across a variety of social channels. 

However, it’s not always a case of guaranteed success. The world of paid social presents its own unique set of challenges for marketers, but understanding and tackling these issues can be the key to gaining a competitive advantage.

There’s tons more on paid social in Econsultancy’s Best Practice Guide, including case studies and optimisation tips, but in meantime, here’s more on the challenges afoot.

Increased competition (and costs)

As the amount of people on social platforms continues to grow, so does the amount of competition. When brands vie for the attention of the same target audience on the same platform, congestion can occur. This can then result in campaigns failing to take off, and cost per action massively increasing.

In order to combat this, brands should re-consider how they are targeting users (in comparison to what competitors are doing). For example, if a rival brand is targeting people within a certain demographic, e.g. age or gender, it would be wise to delve deeper into specific segments such as interests or past browsing behaviour. 

That being said, it might ultimately boil down to ensuring that creatives are strong enough to cut through the channel noise. This is where testing and optimisation comes in – both crucial steps for driving results.

(Michael Kors Facebook ad)

Unrealistic expectations

A lack of strategy can often let down paid campaigns, with a failure to set realistic KPIs bringing down overall value. This can also lead to a lack of support from senior management, especially if they are unaware of the social landscape to begin with, or the benefits of paid advertising.

To avoid this, it’s vital to have realistic expectations about paid social campaigns, and to set KPI’s in relation to this framework. It’s also important to avoid vanity metrics, and focus on KPI’s that are in line with your end-goals - whether that’s campaign engagement or clicks and conversions.

Ownership and budget

One problem that plagues paid social is where it sits within an organisation. After all, a paid campaign might be an objective for PR and communications, display teams, or wider marketing. Essentially, this also means that there are different ways campaigns can be measured. 

In order to avoid confusion, teams should come together to support one another and discuss how to create and execute campaigns to best achieve overall business objectives.

Budget can also be an issue, with investment often being required to prove the capability of the channel. However, if those involved are unaware of the benefits of paid social, securing this can be a big hurdle. Preparing case studies that prove value can help, as well as ensuring that paid social is included in overall marketing planning. 

The question of influencers

Speaking of ownership, another grey area is influencer marketing. Does it even come under the same umbrella as paid social? There is not a clear answer, as not all organisations have the same definition – some class it as earned media while others are adamant it is paid. 

Regardles, it’s certainly becoming a big priority, with many brands now recognising the power of influencers, and how the strategy can help to reach and build credibility with new audiences on social.

For more advice on paid social, including tools, optimisation, and measurement tips, subscribers can download our Paid Social Media Advertising Best Practice Guide. We also offer paid social training.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 2 March, 2018 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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