This guest post is written by Lior Levin.
Social media has proven its worth as a networking tool and a means of raising brand awareness, but the future of sites like Facebook and Twitter depend on convincing brands that that it’s worthwhile to invest in advertising on their sites in addition to interacting with customers.
Ads on Facebook usually appear in the right column, though Facebook has been experimenting with more socially-based ads that show up in the streams of users. With its simpler interface, Twitter relies on promoting tweets that show up in the tops of users’ update streams.
No one has any doubts about the value of social media marketing through engaging customers, running promotions, and creating company pages. The majority of doubts surround the ROI and overall value of paying to advertise on social networks.
Many brands are still engaged in social media advertising, and the data available changes from year to year. However, for bloggers, it can be difficult to decide whether social media advertising is worth it.
Here are a few of the current advantages and disadvantages of using social media sites for your advertising campaigns.
Advantages of social media advertising
Social helps campaigns go viral
According to Kelsey Jones of the Social Robot, “Companies and organizations can experience a large swell of website visitors, new customers, or Facebook fans all within a single day, depending on the effectiveness of their ads. This type of viral activity can be great for events and product launches.”
Brands are satisfied with the level of engagement
There’s no doubt that the right campaign can make a huge difference in driving visitors to a website. This spike in traffic for some major brands makes social media advertising worth considering.
The Wall Street Journal reports that “Companies that have bought Twitter ads generally say they are happy with the percentage of people who click on their ads or circulate them to other Twitter users. But marketers also say these ads haven’t proven they can convert people into paying customers.”
Disadvantages of social media advertising
The cost for national advertising campaigns is prohibitive
Kelsey Jones writes at Performancing, “For some targeted campaigns, competition can be very high, leading to high rates for clicks on social media ads or sponsored tweet impressions (views). For certain industries, the cost to run a viral campaign of this magnitude can be significant, up to thousands of dollars per day.”
While the cost of social media advertising can be quite steep for national campaigns, running an effective social media campaign through a free account on social media can produce similar results if managed properly. The opportunity to engage users through a free account may make it hard to justify the cost of Facebook or Twitter ads.
Social advertising can be perceived negatively
Unlike ads in magazines or on television, ads on social networks may prove to be ineffective or even a liability for brands, as customers may view them as an unwelcome intrusion.
One Forrester analyst mentioned to Bloomberg that injecting ads into a social platform is like interrupting a conversation among friends in order to attempt a sales pitch.
In fact, ads on a social network may be perceived as completely counter to what users are trying to accomplish. Some suggest that the success of social advertising hinges on whether brands can identify the purchasing intent of users and find the perfect point to introduce an ad into their social experience.
The ROI is difficult to measure on social media
Sean Jackson, the CFO of CopyBlogger, suggests that for all of the talk about being unable to measure the ROI of social media marketing in general, businesses should not be dismayed. Jackson says, “An investment is an asset that you purchase and place on your Balance Sheet. Like an office building or a computer system. It’s something you could sell later if you didn’t need it any more. Marketing is an expense, and goes on the Profit and Loss statement.”
Whether or not you agree with Jackson’s statement, the constant challenge of all marketing efforts over the years has been determining their ROI.
Is it worth it?
Social media advertising will undoubtedly produce greater brand awareness and user engagement with your brand, but the real risk is that brands may need to designate significant funds to their marketing efforts without necessarily receiving a guarantee that they’ll work.
That is a significant risk to take, but as brands seek to reach customers, we’ll see ongoing innovation among advertisers on social media platforms.
What do you think of social advertising? Have you tried it—or seen it? Let us know your take on these new ad media in the comments.