Pay to Play: Social Media Basics

US adults will spend, on average, nearly 45 minutes a day with social networks in 2017 (eMarketer, October 2016). Many companies and brands know their audience is on social, but they are not quite sure how to engage with them or where to even start. Social media is not slowing down, so we’ve put together six best practices to help you get started. 

1. Promote organic content with paid 

The organic reach of brand’s Facebook posts is limited. For mid-size Facebook pages with 50,000 to 100,000 likes, less than 10 percent of your audience will see your organic content within their News Feeds. Paid social helps increase reach so your audience sees your content. By “boosting” posts with as little as $100 per post, you can increase reach and engagement.

2. Customize creative by platform

It is important to create engaging content that is customized specifically for each social platform. For instance, thought leadership content is more effective on LinkedIn while engaging imagery is best on Instagram. Recently, video has been a top performing ad unit on Facebook. It is not recommended to use the same exact ad across all platforms, as what works on one may not work on the other.


Paid social platforms are dynamic which allows for testing and optimization in real-time. Beyond testing creative, for example, play around with varying ad copy and images. It is also crucial to test targeting tactics. With all the data that is available, there are a number of ways to target your audience (e.g. interest, behavior, demographic, education, keyword, etc.) and it is important to test out a variety of audience segments to see which perform best.


Creative can get stale quickly on social media so it is important to refresh creative often. This allows for advertisers to avoid creative fatigue and maintain stable performance throughout the life of a campaign.

5. Take advantage of real-time events

We often recommend that our clients set aside budget in an “opportunity bucket.” This allows for advertisers to respond to events in real-time with paid social. For example, if your brand was mentioned favorably in a publication or if you have a news release for a new product, paid social can be used to drive users to that content while the topic is still fresh and relevant for the user.

6. Analyze and optimize

Make sure to establish key performance indicators and measure metrics throughout the campaign using the analytics and insights sections within paid social platforms. Use the data to make informed decisions on what improvements can be made to the campaign (i.e., pausing an audience and/or piece of social content).

There is no doubt that the social landscape has turned into a pay-to-play environment. But don’t let that intimidate you. There are ample and scalable opportunities for you to reach your audience and achieve your campaign goals. So get out there and see what paid social can do for you!

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Lauren Pappas

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