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As brands continue to compete for users’ attention on social media, the space is getting more and more crowded, and social platforms have become increasingly selective as to what content they will serve up to their users.

One way to jump in front of the line is to go the route of paid social. In most platforms, there are multiple ways to get exposure. Today, we’re highlighting the differences of  “boosting” or “sponsoring” organic content versus a straight-up paid social ad.

What’s the difference between a “boosted post” and paid advertising?

The difference between boosted post and paid ads infographic

The term for “boosting” will vary by platform. For example, Facebook calls it “boosting” a post, whereas LinkedIn calls it “sponsoring” a post. There’s really no difference in how it works.  Simply put, “boosting” or “sponsoring” ensures more people will see the post by putting a little money behind it.  What many people don’t realize is that simply posting on your channels does not guarantee your followers will see it in their feed.  Boosting a post does.

Boosting takes an organic post (no money behind it) that you have created, hopefully with excellent, tailored content created by you or your team, and increases the chances that your audience (and the people you promote it to) see it by paying for that privilege.

Boosted posts are easier to manage than paid ads, as they are typically a one-off post and aren’t normally part of a larger campaign. Content you may boost include a timely blog post, press release or media mention.

The drawback? Your options for audience targeting, scheduling, budgeting, and ad formats are limited. For example, boosted posts only allow you to promote the post as it organically appears on your page, whereas advertisements allow you to use formats such as carousels, or collection ads for ecommerce.

Paid Social Advertising

Paid Advertising is a larger beast to tame.  As opposed to simply putting money behind a post already in your feed, these are ads created specifically for an ad objective.  As such, paid ads are part of a larger campaign with multiple copy and graphic/video variations for testing. Think of these as fractional print ads that at one point you may have run in a magazine (although, it’s important to note that paid ads can be much more than a static image with some copy.) 

Paid ads are best when pushing a set goal or objective. These have a strong call-to-action (CTA)  and are about getting an audience to click through to your website or landing page.  Paid ads are typically one of the first layers in an integrated sales funnel.

Some instances where you may want to consider running an ad campaign instead of a simple “boost” include: 

  • Highlighting a promotional offer or a direct eCommerce push.
  • Drive registrants, downloads or leads
  • Promoting a product or service with a long decision timeline (so that we can continue to nurture them by retargeting users through other ads)

Boosting Social Posts: Best Practices

A great boosted post should feel natural in users’ feeds. If they aren’t paying close attention, they won’t know it’s an ad. Here are a few tips for getting it right:

  • Start by boosting content that is already performing well organically. This is a good indicator of what will work well on a larger scale.
  • The content should focus on engagement or awareness to widen your social media following. Content where you’re calling for leads, sign-ups, or purchase are typically best served in a traditional ad campaign.
  • Don’t spend a fortune. Spend a small amount, like $10-25. See how it performs and scale from there.
  • Be careful! With most of these platforms, once you take an organic post and promote it, you cannot modify it. Double-check that the copy provided is suitable to push to the masses.

Social Media Advertising: Best Practices

Besides boosting organic content, most social platforms have multiple ways to advertise – everything from display ads and retargeting to direct messaging. These are generally more expensive and rely on an ROI-centric objective. 

With paid ads, you can run variations of a single ad and test each to see which copy, image, and call-to-action (or combination thereof) work best. Paid ads also allow for retargeting and offer the opportunity to experiment with multiple ad formats such as display, text, video, etc. On some platforms, an ad campaign provides more granular targeting options.

If you’re new to social media advertising, here are some of our best tips:

  • Keep the copy short and sweet. Users may not be familiar with your brand quite yet, making their attention span for your content even shorter.
  • Run multiple variations of your ads. Test different headlines, body copy, calls-to-action, graphics, images and videos.  Unlike print or TV, digital ad buys can be turned on, up or off in midstream. Once you’ve gotten some results, narrow your ad set down to the best performers and put money behind these.
  • Leverage both graphics and video for best results. While video is favored by many platforms and consumers, it’s still worth testing both.
  • Be thoughtful and clear on your objective. Social media platforms design their ad algorithms to place your content in front of users likely to take a specific action. Selecting the wrong objective, like selecting a video views objective when your end goal is really to get people to visit your site, will lead to disappointing results.
  • Install the social media platform’s pixel on your site, where applicable. Not only do these pixels provide you with conversion data, you can also use them to create remarketing lists to fine-tune your social marketing efforts.

Ultimately, whether you choose to boost a post or run an advertising campaign depends on your goals. If you are trying to build brand awareness or drive engagement on a particular post, sticking with boosted posts would be advised. If you’re looking to drive conversions, then paid ads are your best solution.

 Need help? Get in touch.

If you want to expand your reach on social media, then understanding each channel’s newsfeed algorithm is a step in the right direction.  Think of each algorithm as a set of rules that the system follows when organizing content.

As digital marketing specialists, we could write a novel on the subject, but for time’s sake we’ve listed some highlights and quick tips to make you an algorithm expert. Let’s start with the social platform that has made “algorithm” a household word…

Facebook

<1% organic reach

Ahhh, trusty old Facebook. As one of the oldest social platforms (created in 2004), one can imagine the number of changes it has seen. Facebook has updated its News Feed display algorithm countless times over the past decade, but it made especially big waves with its announcement in January 2018. See our blog post about the new Facebook update for a detailed breakdown of how they are trying to bring Facebook back to ‘the people,’ but a few main takeaways include:

  • Strategically boosted posts and Facebook ads are more essential than ever.
  • ‘Meaningful Interactions’ will rank higher, another reason to create authentic, engaging content.

Instagram

~10% organic reach

You may remember that Instagram’s feed started out chronological, and then moved to an algorithm in 2016 (to the dismay of many users). Since then, the platform has added new capabilities (stories, highlights, follow tags, etc.) and recharged its algorithm to keep up with the demand for authentic content. If you’re looking to optimize content for Instagram’s current formula, here are some highlights:

  • Facebook owns Instagram: Similar to what we just covered, meaningful engagement ranks your content higher.
  • Stories matter: The algorithm takes story posts’ activity into account. Keep up those real-time updates!
  • Time matters: How fast can you respond to comments and messages? How long can you keep their eyeballs on the prize? The quicker you are and the longer they watch, the better.
  • Strategic hashtags: Remember, people can follow hashtags as well now, so consider using something “popular” that still fits your brand. At CBC, we like to create lists of relevant hashtags to have on hand for our client’s content and make additions as new ones arise.

LinkedIn

If you’re starting to feel a loss of control over when and where your content is displayed, then take solace in the fact that you still have the ability to choose “Top” versus “Recent” content in your LinkedIn homepage feed, thanks to its Sort functionality option.

LinkedIn is a great place to share company culture and industry insights, and users are automatically served Top posts, arranged by LinkedIn’s algorithm. So, consider the following if you want your content floating to the top:

  • Relevance: Tailor content to your LinkedIn audience. Always think: Do they care about this news? Is it helpful? If LinkedIn users “Hide” your post, it will negatively affect position.
  • Big surprise… engagement matters! LinkedIn will let your content hang out for a while and register any likes or comments before moving it up or down the feed. So, ask a question or pose a tip! Adding a call-to-action is always the best way to increase engagement.
  • Go beyond the newsfeed: Participate in LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your organization. Join conversations that are already happening about your industry. Share posts from other people and brands. All of this will increase your reach, thus helping your post’s initial score.
  • Be on time: Since we know LinkedIn lets your content hang in the timeline at first, you should aim to hit users at primetime. Some say 8pm is the magic hour, but check your analytics to be sure.

Twitter

Twitter’s algorithm can be a little confusing due to multiple parts, so buckle up. Twitter technically still displays all tweets in your timeline in reverse chronological order, but you might have to scroll to get there. In 2015, it began introducing such updates, and currently, you still have the option to manage timeline preferences.

There are three sections; let’s break them down:

  • Ranked Tweets: Twitter uses an algorithm to determine what is most relevant to you.
  • ICYMI – In Case You Missed It: These may also be relevant according to the algorithm, and they are from several hours or days ago.
  • Reverse Chronological: Newest on top.

And here are a few tips so your content ends up in those top two sections:

  • Broken record here… engagement matters! Consider both ends; post tweets that elicit replies, and make sure you reply back to followers.
  • If at first you DO succeed, try again: Repurpose content that has been performing well. You can check out Twitter analytics and determine which tweets were most successful.
  • Video, Video, Video: Visual content gets noticed. Videos are six times more likely to be re-tweeted.
  • Strategic Hashtags: Similar to Instagram, find specific/relevant tags that work for your brand. It can also be helpful to jump on trending hashtags.
  • Timing: Similar to LinkedIn, consider time of day so that your initial tweet receives the most eyeballs.

 

There you have it, in a large nutshell. Algorithms rule the social world, so it is important as marketers to ride the wave and dive in headfirst. Learn all you can, in order to be visible – great content should be seen. Follow the rules, just like an algorithm!

The last few years of digital expansion has certainly provided many opportunities for us to connect personally and professionally. This includes a rise in Business-to-Business (B2B) marketing: the marketing of products or services to other businesses.

According to Content Marketing Institute, 94% of marketers use LinkedIn as a platform for B2B sales. Twitter follows this rate at 87% and Facebook at 84%. Why is LinkedIn more popular over other social media platforms? LinkedIn is the only one that emphasizes professional networking, rather than just socializing.

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If you’re looking to optimize your company’s LinkedIn page and generate more leads, here are a few tips on how to do so successfully.

Image is everything.

Improve your company page with attractive pictures. A research by Ad Age shows that brands utilizing high-quality, original images are perceived as more creative, experienced, and knowledgeable.

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You have the opportunity to make a lasting impression at a glance. Invest in a banner that’s personable to your company, and provide clickable links to your products, website and contact information.

Set your profile settings to fit your needs.

If you want to generate leads, the leads need to be able to find you. Customize your LinkedIn URL with the company’s full name and use the LinkedIn Showcase option to promote brands under your company.

 

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Share diverse content on your page.

It is key to find a good balance between promotional posts and interactive posts. According to Content Authority, the good balance is 20-80. Toot your own horn without being annoying.

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Make sure you understand your audience by evaluating what kind of posts are getting the highest number of likes or shares.

Search for groups, and create them too.

 

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Find a group on LinkedIn that fits your niche. Be an active participant of that group. If you don’t find a group that fits you, create your own!

Paid advertising and its worth.

Organic is good, paid is better! If your budget doesn’t allow you to spend on everything, prioritize your content. Promote whatever you think has potential to generate leads. Be specific with your target audience. This way, not only will your cost-per-clicks save you money, they will be more effective.

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Ask for recommendations and reach out often.

Ask your loyal customers and companies to recommend your products and services on LinkedIn, and share what they love about them. At the same time, build credibility by posting often on your LinkedIn page with updates and latest news.
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Social Selling works 68% better than cold calling does. Use it to your advantage and generate more B2B leads by improving your LinkedIn page with the above tips!