Is Social Media Advertising? Should I Pay?

Thumb up icon on wood cube at dark blue background, leave spaceTen years ago if you asked, I’d tell you social media makes sense for product and service promotion. After all, skepticism greets advertisements. Brands benefit from peer recommendations. A friend’s suggestion is much more convincing than an ad. For these reasons, being an early adopter of social media was smart.

Back then, social media worked because it wasn’t advertising. Now in many cases, it is.

Businesses trying to engage using a Facebook page today don’t have it easy. Facebook pages are pay-for-play. And many do pay. While that’s often not a wrong decision, it is advertising. And, advertising on Facebook is not so unlike advertising elsewhere.

Sure, with social media you can still see that friends have liked a product or promotion, so there is a social aspect, but the post is a paid, not organic. A friend was not the cause of a product showing in your feed. Money put it there. That makes it advertising.

Page posts are sometimes designed to be social posts in disguise. That may help with getting likes, but if you are paying, likes may not be your end goal. Also, there’s no hiding the fact it is a paid promotion. Unless your goal is basic brand awareness, you might as well explain right up-front who you are, what you want and what you wish the recipient of the communication to do, otherwise known as a call to action. It helps to use an attractive photo.

Are Facebook pages still worthwhile? If someone searches for you on a social media platform, you want to be there. Are paid promotions worthwhile? They are likely a good value compared to more general advertisements in print, radio or tv.

Facebook pages, as well as other social media ads,  allow you to target more narrowly than anything else I know. In any promotional effort outside of a major product brand, targeting is the key to effective reach. Ask yourself who your likely intended recipient is. Does Facebook allow you to be narrow enough to reach them? If the price to reach them reasonable compared to other means? If so, the answer to the second question is most likely yes.

Side Note: You may want to keep an eye on Facebook Stories, which it has opened to pages.

About Eric Miller

Eric Miller works in Marketing and Communications at LevelFirst, IIAT's MGA and Brokerage Unit and with IIAT Advantage.
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