The Cost of Social Media Advertising: Where’s the Value?

Author Carla Rivera

If you have ever wished you were a fly on the wall to see what your competitors are up to, here’s a bit of insight you might want to hear: There’s a good chance they’ll be investing more in social media ads.

According to a CMO report, social media advertising budgets are expected to almost double by 2023. There’s a good reason for that. Last year, there was a 13% rise in people using social media. That’s 3.196 billion people, and studies show that 70% of North Americans use social media. The interest in digital platforms continues to rise.

Reviewing the stats will help you discover the benefits of social media, and it’s worth a few minutes of your time. Here are some impressive numbers to help you see that there’s definitely value in social media advertising. 

Who’s Looking at Social Media?

When you consider who’s looking at ads on social media, youth prevails. Did you know that 50% of Gen Z and 42% of millennials believe social is the most relevant place for ads? Although those over 37 years old still think TV is more relevant, they actually rank social media second. In all age groups, women choose social media more so than men, coming in at 35% and 27% respectively. Relevancy means people are listening to ads, instead of getting annoyed by them.

Customer Engagement is Big on Social

Social media platforms were built for people to engage with each other. It is not so different for your business. Due to its interactive nature, social media is the best channel to build a rapport with followers. You can get very personal by putting faces to names and improving your customer service efforts. Interacting and even selling on social allows you to make people feel special when you speak directly to them and enjoy a conversation based on their comments. It is an excellent opportunity to engage people directly with special offers, contests, and information shared only through your posts. That can lead to further engagement with new followers.

Of course, it all takes thought and planning to ensure your content is engaging to begin with. Relevant posts, videos, and images will gain positive reactions, which helps encourage engagement as well as sharing.

Although smaller companies might be turned off by the idea of using social media as an additional way for customers to communicate directly with your team, social media provides a real-time way to converse with customers. It allows you to publicly manage damage control for customer complaints or even major events that might negatively affect your business or worry your customers. Offering contact on social media can speed up service if you are responsive enough.

Social is Good for Customer Satisfaction

Social is Good for Customer Satisfaction

Everything adds to the customer experience. As already stated, social media provides a real-time way to answer questions for your customers. It improves relationships by allowing you to reply right away to their comments while creating real connections. Again, this might be a scary prospect, but it is the best way to show you care.

Social media also becomes a self-generating FAQ resource as common questions are answered in your feed. Social is a priceless way of finding the things that customers really want to know so that you can add it to your website with confidence. Instead of generating the same old FAQs you assume people will ask, you will have the actual questions that are popping up regularly in your feed.

Social media is also the best way to make announcements to counteract negative occurrences such as the need for a recall or to respond directly to negative press your business might receive. It allows you to take a proactive approach, so people know you are aware of issues and are acting on them quickly.

Special offers can also get to people more quickly via social media posts, which, in turn, creates more happy customers. You can encourage people to follow your social media to be privy to the best offers before the general public hears about them.

Last but not least, social media provides a venting channel that at first glance might be something that gives you pause. However, if you have people venting about an issue with your brand on social media you have a chance to publicly offer to make things better as opposed to channels where a bad review might be harder to address. This method is always preferred from a customer service point of view. 

Build Brand Awareness Across Accounts

Brand awareness is always important for your online presence. Consider that 50% of U.S. consumers feel user-generated content, such as videos and images posted by happy buyers, is likely to influence their purchasing decisions through social media channels. Social media allows your brand to be brought into the light in an honest way, with real people standing behind your product and stating they love it.

Instagram

According to Instagram, business accounts represent a third of their top viewed Stories. Even more interesting, these Stories tend to receive messages from viewers one in five times, and 60% of Stories with video ads are viewed with the sound on. That is important as it means viewers are actually not just waiting for the ad to run its course; they're engaging with it.

Twitter

Twitter was developed to share information in digestible little bursts called tweets. Companies can greatly benefit from brand building on Twitter as 64% of users surveyed said they had discovered a new small to medium business through Twitter. Of that group, 78% said they had tweeted about that business, with 93.3% saying they were going to buy something from the companies they follow. These discoveries carry over to ads appearing in their feeds, with 73% finding ads informative, and 67% finding the ads non-intrusive and even relevant.

Snapchat

Some companies might overlook Snapchat as a potential advertising channel, yet according to tests conducted by Mediascience, video ads on Snapchat are twice as likely to gain attention than on Facebook and 1.3 times more than YouTube. These ads also double the intent to purchase compared to YouTube and television.

LinkedIn

If you are not convinced social media is a must because your customer base is businesses, LinkedIn comes to the rescue. LinkedIn is viewed as the platform to generate leads, according to DemandWave. LinkedIn is not just a job posting platform. People using LinkedIn are using it 15 times more to view content than they are to view jobs.

YouTube

YouTube was created specifically for sharing video. Paid YouTube ads receive 83% more attention compared to just 45% for television, and 95% of those ads are watched with the sound playing. When it comes to brand awareness, that lifts it by 1.6 times, with brand recall rising 1.4 times. YouTube reports that if a person watches an ad on their platform, people are 10 times more likely to visit the channel for that brand with the intent to view more videos.  

More Brand Authority

More Brand Authority

Authority is different from brand awareness. To establish your business as an expert in your industry, you have to build brand authority. Posting on social media with relevant, educational, and authoritative information is the best way to show people that you know your stuff. It nurtures a positive image while offering a forum where customers and visitors can interact. That is especially important for answering questions and being responsive to both increase and demonstrate customer satisfaction.

Brand authority helps generate brand loyalty. In turn, it can provide free advertising for your business as people comment and like what you have to say or offer. This public interaction with customers shows you genuinely care about them and are customer focused. You also encourage customers to be more vocal and to help raise your profile in the minds of new followers.

According to the Social Media Examiner, consumers are reliant on social media when it comes to finding the products, companies, and services they will use. That alone shows the value of using social media to help establish brand authority. Marketing your knowledge about products and services requires traditional methods in hand with digital content. You can certainly use your website to build content, but it won’t be enough for today’s consumer or B2B customer.

Your website is like a silent partner that won’t generate conversations. Although you can add a comment stream to your blog, social media allows you to gain conversations that followers will see and new followers will find. Social starts conversations publicly and develops the promotion of your products and services from people who have used and liked them. There’s value in that feedback for you as well. You will find usable suggestions with ideas you might not have considered coming directly from the most important source: the people using your product or service.

As long as you are committed to remaining active and contributing content of value, you will continue to gain momentum. You also have to make sure you are speedy with responses to keep conversations going and especially to assuage potential negative comments to show you care about feedback both good and bad.

Becoming an authority in your industry on social media can also lead to collaboration opportunities across sectors. That includes influencers such as fashion mavens talking about your creative, trendy T-shirts on their posts, for example. This mutual fan club provides further exposure and seals the deal for your authority. 

Social Gives Your SEO a Bump

If you are sick of hearing about SEO and are tempted to skip this section, don’t! Social media is a very important tool to improve your SEO. It amplifies content across many channels. You can use your best existing content and incorporate it into your social media posts, giving you more bang for your buck.

Social media can influence bounce rates and also provide more inbound links, which search engines love. They can also increase the time spent on pages, another important stat. The longer people visit and engage on a page, the more search engines value you. You are also killing two birds with one stone by getting more mileage out of your blogs, which, in turn, drives traffic to your site.

Social media helps get your content shared, as well as liked. As you share more, you will also gain more brand authority and improve your reputation. All of these things work together to convince search engines that searchers have found your content worthy of review, which brings you up in the rankings.

The sharing aspect of social media also contributes to link building. It helps bring attention to your site, which can attract other influencers. If your content is on social media, it provides a way for influencers to find info on your website that they might like to link to. Those are the highest value links you can get, and it improves SEO. You can also get other websites linking to your content, adding diverse external links, which makes search engines view you as an authority.

Through social media channels, you will raise brand awareness, which increases brand-based searches. Brand-based searches always rank higher than non-branded searches because your name is a keyword in the search. Who else can the search engines possibly choose when the request is specific to your brand?

Social Media & Sales

If none of these facts have you convinced, consider it more in dollars and cents. In the first half of 2018, social media ad revenue generated $13.1 billion according to IAB’s latest Internet Advertising Revenue Report. That is an increase of 38% over 2017. Companies would not be investing this much in an advertising method that was not providing them with results.

According to Sprout Social, just by a brand being available on social media to answer questions led 48% of consumers to make a purchase. As well, if there is a promotion or contest on social media, it can sway 46% of consumers to buy. Last but not least, 42% of consumers say that they can be converted based on educational content on social media.

Once all is said and done, social media at the least builds your brand and at the most translates into conversions and purchases. It’s a win-win!

Carla Rivera
Content Marketing Executive