Do you remember what first came to mind when you considered implementing social media into your B2B marketing efforts? It’s likely that one of the first perks that stood out to you (and your CFO) was the word “free.” And yes, while most social networks are indeed free to join and to have a presence on, that doesn’t mean you should completely rule out the idea of spending money on social media.
In a perfect world, you’d never have to think about using paid promotions on social media; you’d accumulate followers because everybody loves your brand and wants to hear what you have to say. This might be the case for large B2C companies – Coca-Cola or Macy’s, for example. But for the lesser-known, meeker B2B companies trying to make a name for themselves – and their products or services – on social media, a little paid promotion can go a long way.
With so many different types of social networks out there, however, come a slew of different types of paid promotions. How do you know where to start, or what type of paid promotion even makes sense for your business? Fear not; we have a rundown of the most common paid promotional opportunities on social media – and the specific nuances of each:
Promote on Facebook By Boosting & Buying Ads
Facebook gives you a couple options when it comes to paid promotions on the network. Once you have a company page set up, you can choose to either boost your posts or create an ad.
Boosting Posts –Boosting posts on Facebook is an easy, straightforward way to, well, boost your opportunity to be seen on Facebook. The network’s algorithm is set up so that users only see about 20% of the stories that could appear in their news feed, since most users have such a large number of friends and liked pages. Boosting a post can help it be included as part of that 20% for your followers. Keep in mind, though, that there are no guarantees that everyone will see it.
Pros: It’s incredibly easy to boost a post. Once you’ve published something that you want to boost, simply click “Boost Post” on the bottom right corner and set up the details of the boosting according to what you’d like the post to accomplish. If you’re a consulting company, for example, and your page hasn’t been liked by very many people, you may want to avoid paying to boost the post to your small following and instead choose to target specific demographics as your audience. You can even add certain interests that your post will resonate with as a more targeted way of reaching just the right people.
Cons: Facebook has pretty strict advertising guidelines that your post must comply with. For example, any image included in a boosted post can’t contain more than 20% text. Fortunately, they do have a helpful grid tool that can be used to determine whether or not your photo is likely to be acceptable.
Cost: It’s all up to you. When you choose to boost a post, you set your own budget that determines how many people the post will likely reach. Once that limit is reached, the boosting period is over and you’ll never pay more than you initially budgeted to boost the post. The minimum budget to boost a post is $1.00.
Facebook Ads– Facebook ads promise to “connect your business with the right people on Facebook so they’ll be more likely to click through to your website and convert.”
Pros: The process of creating Facebook Ads is extremely user-friendly, and Facebook features a slew of helpful resources – including free stock photography use. When you set out to create your ad, you can choose among a handful of goals that you’re hoping to reach with your campaign, whether that be promoting your page, sending people to your website, increasing conversions on your website or getting people to claim your offer, to name a few.
Cons: You’ll have to choose between a larger ad directly in the News Feed or a smaller ad on the sidebar, and though the News Feed option tends to be the better bet, many Facebook users recognize ads and scroll right past them.
Cost: Similar to boosting posts, the cost is up to you; however you’ll have to choose between a daily or a lifetime budget, depending on the ad campaign you’re running. You’ll also have to choose to bid for cost-per-thousand impressions or cost-per-click, but you’ll only pay for the clicks or impressions you receive, up to your budgeted amount.
Twitter Lead Generation Cards
Twitter's best paid promotional opportunity for B2B companies is Lead Generation Cards, which allow you to do just that – generate more leads on Twitter. When a user on Twitter clicks on your tweet, it expands into a full “card” and allows users to submit their information to you by simply clicking a button, without ever having to leave the page. Plus, according to @TwitterSmallBiz, tweets with a Card have 43% higher click-through compared to tweets with just a plain URL. Take a look for yourself and note which tweet stands out more to you:
Lead Generation Cards
Pros: Lead Generation Cards act as a call to action on your tweet, giving it the full functionality to attract more converters to your content. While Lead Generation Cards are essentially working to accomplish the same thing as simply tweeting out a link to your landing page, they have a certain aesthetic appeal that will undeniably draw more eyes in on your content.
Cons: As is the way of Twitter, there are limitations in terms of number of characters allowed. It can be tricky to get a clear, compelling point across that in just 140 characters. The bidding and auction of promoted tweets for Lead Generation Cards can cause some confusion if you’re just getting started, but Twitter does feature a helpful FAQ/troubleshooting section.
Cost: Lead Generation Cards work hand-in-hand with promoted tweets, and the good news is that there’s no extra cost associated with Lead Generation Cards, other than the cost to promote the tweet. Simply set the bid that you’re comfortable with (a minimum of $0.01 per engagement) and your tweet will be in an auction each time it’s eligible to appear.
LinkedIn Ads Enable Direct Targeting
LinkedIn offers paid advertisement promotions, much like Facebook Ads. Ads on LinkedIn can show up in a few different places, including the home page, the profile pages of your connections, your inbox and the search results page, among other pages.
Pros: LinkedIn Ads allow you the best opportunity for targeting a particular audience. You can set your targeting options based on geography, industry, job function, job title or LinkedIn Group memberships.
Cons:Creating a LinkedIn Ad isn’t as easy or user-friendly as a Facebook Ad, and if your ad doesn’t stand out enough on its own, it could get lost in the white space of LinkedIn. Check out these ads that I found at the bottom of a search results page on LinkedIn:
Cost: Similar to Facebook Ads and Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards, LinkedIn Ads require you to bid (either pay-per-click or pay-per-1,000 impressions), set a daily budget and participate in an auction. The minimum daily budget is $10, and the bid for cost-per-click or cost-per-1,000 impressions is $2.
When it comes to choosing which social network to feature your paid promotions, you’ll have to consider which sites your buyer personas are most likely to spend time on. Another option to consider is to advertise on a popular online trade publication that holds a lot of respect in your industry and gets shared often.
Choosing to use paid promotions on social media can be intimidating and full of “what if’s?”, so if you’re feeling a bit wary, use the minimum bid to test it out and see how it works. Remember, though, that your paid promotions will only be as good as the content behind them, so be sure to include your best, high-quality content pieces that will catch the interest of your prospects for the best possible return on your investment.
Posted by Laura Sheptoski Laura is a detail-oriented consultant and project manager, with a background in public relations, social media engagement, and client content creation. Prior to her time at Weidert Group, Laura managed PR for an industrial services company, and maintains a strong focus on earned media within our inbound marketing programs.