Paid Social Media: The Future of Marketing?

The amount of spend allocated to social media advertising in the US is set to cruise closer to the $50 million mark this year, with current estimates coming in at $47.9 billion. In the UK, while the numbers aren’t as high, it’s clear that budgets are accounting for paid social, with spending climbing from £0.27 billion in 2011 to £3.59 billion by 2019

These figures indicate that businesses are recognising the role that social media advertising has in how they market their brand or product. But where is paid social heading? And is it set to become one of the most crucial components of marketing in the years to come? Read on to find out. 

What is paid media?

Paid media is a type of marketing that advertisers pay for. It includes pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and other types of search engine marketing, social media adverts, and display adverts, which are the ads you see on websites or social media. 

Paid media advertising also refers to traditional offline adverts, such as those that appear in magazines and newspapers, along with radio and video adverts, like those seen on YouTube, and podcast ads. 

For those who are planning on investing their advertising budget, paid media will factor highly as it allows businesses to target their audience and see sales conversions. 

What is paid social media?

Paid social media is adding display ads or other types of marketing messages to key social media platforms. PPC and display ads are among some of the most common types of paid social media that are used across the different apps. However, branded and influencer content are also classed as paid social, as influencers are paid to promote products. 

Any paid-for ads on social media will be tagged with notes such as ‘sponsored’, ‘ad’, ‘gift’ or ‘promo’ to set them apart from other content that users see. This has become a major issue in recent years as the number of social media influencers has grown, and there are often news reports that reveal that some Instagram influencers aren’t flagging where they’re advertising a product. 

As more people join the world of social media and with more platforms becoming popular among users, paid social is set to become key to how businesses approach advertising. 

What platforms are used for paid social media?

We’ve already mentioned Instagram as one of the major social media apps that attract advertisers. There are several people who have become household names through their Instagram accounts alone, and advertisers will pay thousands for these names to showcase their products

While Instagram is probably the first social media app you think of when you hear the term ‘paid social’, there are other platforms that businesses spend their advertising budgets on. These include Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as relative newcomer, TikTok. 

The platform a business will target depends on the audience they’re trying to reach. If, for example, they’re aiming for professionals, LinkedIn is the perfect match. Should the business be a brand aimed at young people, TikTok could be ideal as the platform’s users tend to be in their teens. 

While the big-hitting influencers can be expensive, brands and businesses can reap the rewards of advertising through them – especially when some influencers have thousands of followers. 

How to improve your paid social media strategy

There are different ways to approach your paid social strategy. Begin by deciding on the platforms that suit your business or brand best. There’s no point targeting Facebook if your core audience are Twitter users. To do this, do some research to find out what social channels your target audience use. 

From there, you can plan how you want to approach your advertising. Will you go down the influencer route or opt for display ads? 

If you’re new to this, it can be tricky to know where to begin. You need to be savvy about how you spend, so it’s worth getting the experts to help set up and navigate paid social. By outsourcing, you can hire the experts who are abreast of the latest trends and updates in the world of social. 


So, how will you take on paid social? How much spend do you have to play with? Whichever app you opt for, once you start investing in social media advertising, you’re sure to see advertising in a whole new light.


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