Is the social media thrill gone? Are followers ignoring your photos? Are blog posts going unread? Are social media contests not generating the kind of buzz you'd like? Then perhaps it's time to consider paying for social media advertising.
Now, we know what you're thinking: you have to get this approved by your boss. No problem; it's relatively easy to track the metrics that can dictate whether you should pay for social media advertising. And the numbers don't lie: if you're not getting the most bang for your social media buck, then paid advertising may be worth the expense. Therefore, we'd like to present six warning signs to suggest it may be time to start paying for social advertising:
1. Your reach is down or flat-lining. Try as you may, your efforts just aren't attracting new visitors to your social media sites, be it Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Each of these platforms enable you to track your audience growth rate. Check it out, and if the rate is declining or stagnant, paid advertising may be in order.
2. Engagement rate isn't so hot. Your engagement metrics track the "pulse" of your relationship with your followers. For example, your Facebook Insights page will enable you to track metrics like Page Likes, Post Reach, and Engagement. See what the numbers say.
3. You're not getting referrals. Are followers not returning to your social media pages? Are you not getting sufficient referral traffic from social media? Pull up your Google Analytics account to find out.
4. You're not converting. Once again, using tools like Google Analytics you can follow visitors referred through social networks and even track conversions over a period of time. Check out Google's take on the elements that define your social impact as well as useful metrics like Assisted Social Conversions.
5. There's no chatter. Remember a few months ago when you couldn't keep up with all the follower comments, Tweets, and photo uploads? Sadly, those days are a distant memory. Subjectively evaluating this lack of chatter can be valuable and telling.
6. Your boss isn't feeling the social love. OK, we admit, this is also a very subjective metric, but a lack of performance can breed pessimism. If your efforts in the social space aren't impressing your boss, he or she may start to think about abandoning social entirely. If there's any suspicion from up high about social's value, it may be time to spring for paid advertising.
One last thing. Paid advertising won't solve all your social media engagement problems. Companies should continue to do what they always do: engage followers, respond to comments, post compelling content, issue strong calls to action, link to useful inbound content like white papers and FAQs, and so on. Paid advertising won't do these things for you; rather, they'll help bring more eyes to your pages so visitors can check out what you have to offer and engage your brand.
What do you think? Is paid social advertising worth the investment? What are other signs that you need to pay for social advertising? What networks have proven the most valuable from a marketing perspective?