If “content marketing” was the promotional trend of 2014, paid social amplification is all the rage in 2015. But, as with any practice-turned-buzzword, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions around what exactly “social amplification” is. Is it just a fancy way of saying “paid advertising on social media”, or something more?
Let’s take a closer look and discover what, exactly, paid social amplification is and whether or not it’s worth leveraging in your business, as well as a few examples of how it can be used creatively.
What Is Paid Social Amplification?
First, it’s a good idea to talk about what paid social amplification isn’t. For example – it’s not just distributing your ad across social networks. It’s also not about your brand promoting your message across your own channels. The amplification part truly happens when others pick up on and spread your message – like ripples in a pond. Your amplification here relies entirely on other people and their networks to spread your influence.
Social Networks are still one of the best ways to share content
Social amplification, at its core, relies on word of mouth from key influencers in your industry or niche. However, these influencers are often overwhelmed by pitches and simply don’t have the time or desire to be everybody’s megaphone. When that happens, it may be time to reach into your wallet and leverage paid amplification. Here’s how to do it, along with some of the results that companies are getting.
Getting Your Social Message Amplified
You may be familiar with or even use some of these social promotion methods – but resist the temptation to simply “gloss over” these techniques simply because they look familiar. There’s a lot of gold nugget tactics here if you dig a little deeper.
Facebook Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories
Estately, a real estate search engine, wanted to promote its 37 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Seattle post. Using Facebook Promoted Posts, the focus was more narrowly targeted to sports fans, who would in turn hopefully share it with their fellow Seahawks fans.
According to Estately CEO Galen Ward, the company spent just under $100 and at the time of the post, got 8,500 likes and tens of thousands of visitors. Ward estimates that the post got in front of over 30,000 people. Currently, the article is sitting at 53,000 likes.
Estately is currently experimenting with smaller $10 and $20 social amplification spots for its better performing posts to determine if it can recreate this kind of buzz for other stories.
Promoted Trends on Twitter
Promoted trends appear in the Trends sidebar of Twitter and for many companies, can be a way to create greater brand awareness and conversations around their industry. Case in point – the Washington Post could’ve bought any promoted hashtag – like #washingtonpost, but instead they went a step further and bought #Election at a time when the U.S. House and Senate majority elections were in full swing.
Choosing a broader hashtag helped the Washington Post become an aggregate source for election news
As a result, anyone searching for election news would see the promoted tweet and likely click it for an aggregate collection of election details.
Selling with Stories on Instagram
Sites promoting on Instagram have, until recently, mostly used the service as a giant billboard to showcase ads as users scroll by. For businesses using sponsored posts on Instagram, a new type of ad – the carousel, has arrived to put their story in the hands of more visitors.
An example of the Instagram carousel ad format
Unlike self serve ad platforms like Facebook, Instagram is very specific about how advertisers work with its platform. From sponsored images to video, Instagram likes to make sure that advertisers who elect to work with them are thoroughly vetted and their creatives accurately controlled. Instagram’s director of marketing, Jim Squires, often tells brands to create images that “capture a lifestyle, not just a product”. So far, advertisers from Taco Bell to Hollister, have come on board.
Still, Instagram’s selectivity can be seen as either a boon for those looking to reach high-end consumers, or a muzzle on brands, which may not fit the profile demographic. Currently, there are only about 15 approved brands advertising on Instagram. But if you think this exclusive club isn’t worth your time – think again. Analysts predict that Instagram will have more than 100 million users by 2018. Expect more and more opportunities for advertisers to be welcomed aboard as Instagram finds its niche in the display ad space.
Which Network Do I Focus On?
One of the most important questions business owners find themselves asking with regard to paid social amplification is, “is there a certain network I should focus on?” And while you’ll want to keep your demographic in mind, there’s no reason why you can’t leverage all of them in a way that consistently fills your funnel with customers.
For example, you could use Twitter’s paid amplification to promote tweets surrounding industry conferences, workshops or hashtags, so that prospects who are involved with those events will notice your brand. Twitter is particularly noteworthy in terms of “short burst” news-type events, so taking advantage of its platform for these kinds of messages could pay off well.
Facebook, not surprisingly, is about driving community. Here, you’d ideally want to use paid social amplification when looking to foster customer outreach, name/brand recognition and product announcement and adoption. Of course, it’s also not a one-way communications street, so make sure that you are your company’s own best advocate and promptly answer customer questions and address concerns before they spiral out of control.
You can even take a cue from HP, which has started including social-enabled links on its display ads to make them more interactive and enticing to potential customers.
An example of a social-enabled display ad
By combining this type of ad with promoted post links, you’ll be able to easily rev up your social reach while accurately gauging your return on investment to determine if continual social amplification is the right strategy for you.
Now It’s Your Turn…
Have you used paid social amplification for your posts or content? How has it worked out for you? Share your examples and triumphs with us in the comment below!