You put a lot of work into creating your social content. Maybe several departments are involved. Or maybe, you have a single savvy social marketer with a knack for Photoshop and a winning turn of phrase. Whatever the case, once that content is published, it’s left largely to the fates: When was your core audience online? What else was going on that day? Did enough people see, and participate with, your post in order to garner wider distribution?
Because there is so much content vying for your audience’s attention, chances are, some – ahem, most – of your followers are not going to see your social posts. But paid distribution, that is, paying for your content to be seen by more users than would see it organically, can give you a leg up.
But whether or not you should pay for distribution depends upon your purpose and your budget.
Fortunately or unfortunately, Facebook makes it so easy to pay for distribution. All you have to do is click “Boost Post,” set your targeting parameters, determine your budget, and you’re off to the races. But, like Amazon’s one-click purchasing methods, it’s almost too easy and can get you into trouble if you don’t know what you’re doing.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to know what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it before you “boost” your post.
We recommend asking the following questions:
Consider what you want the user to do once they see your post – Like? Share? Comment? Click?
Next, consider whether that outcome is worth your money.
If you pay for wider distribution, in most cases, you want there to be some chance of a return on investment. In this case, the outcome will be a click, and, hopefully, a download or purchase.
This type of post might revolve around an individual product or a piece of content you are offering for download. In each case, there is a simple, traceable outcome.
This is the no-brainer scenario. You pay for distribution because you want as many people to see your post as possible, because your post leads to definite ROI.
If, however, all you really want your users to do is like and comment on your post, this is probably not worth your money. Instead of paying for distribution, you might consider finding other ways to reach your goal – creating engaging content and posting that content when your audience is active within the network.
Facebook frowns on overly promotional posts (and users don’t like them much either). For that reason, if you want to drive users to a product page, or sale, your best bet for getting them there is by paying for distribution.
If, on the other hand, you simply want to engage with your audience, share blog content, an interesting article, or a quote, unless your purpose is branding, it’s probably not worth paying for distribution.
If you have a limited marketing budget, it is extremely important for you to drive ROI on every dollar you spend. (If so, you should only pay for distribution when there is a definite revenue-generating outcome.)
If you have a bit more money to spend, and you are concerned with building your brand, you might consider paying for distribution even when there’s not a one-to-one financial benefit.
Think about it: If followers or potential followers never see your posts, they’ll never know about the great content you’re producing for their benefit and consumption.
In this scenario, you might “boost” posts that are:
Think of this as being similar to a paid-search campaign where you bid on your branded terms not to maximize revenue, but to maximize exposure. In this case, your goal is visibility, and, in a competitive environment, visibility is worth its weight in gold.
Note: In this post we’ve mostly used Facebook as an example, but Facebook isn’t the only channel where advertisers can pay for distribution. To get a broader view of the advertising opportunities in social media, download our white paper, Social Media Advertising: Opportunities and Keys for Success.