Paying for social media visibility has traditionally been viewed as outside the remit of the PR practitioner.
However, with a surfeit of content available vying for the attention of audiences everywhere, gaining visibility, reach and engagement with audiences via social media is tougher than ever.
The challenge exists across social channels. Of course, nobody wants to spend money if they don’t have to. But we appear to have reached a point where if you want to ensure that your audience even has the opportunity to see or hear your message, then understanding the options available to guarantee social media visibility seems one that most PR practitioners should pay attention to.
Rather than viewing all paid media as advertising, perhaps sponsored content via social media should be seen as another string to the bow of the 21st century PR practitioner.
Of course, challenges remain. Many may argue they have little or no money to spend, so it would be pointless to even think about paying for content visibility. However, relatively modest sums can still help shed light on whether certain content approaches may be more likely to resonate with audiences.
Let’s look at an example.
Imagine I was interested in ensuring that CIPR members interested in Artificial Intelligence would definitely see some content that I thought would be relevant to them. I know that the CIPR group on LinkedIn has over 23,000 members. So I could simply post something organically in the group. But if I look at LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager tool, I get more insight into the nature of the audience – and the cost of gaining some kind of guarantee of visibility with them.
The screenshot below shows how many CIPR LinkedIn Group members are believed to be interested in AI – around 1500. It also indicates how much I would probably have to pay to get a certain number of “impressions” with that audience ie to make sure that my content appears on a screen that these people will actually have the opportunity to see. You will also note that the cost to do this is less the price of a cup of coffee per day – between £1 – 2.
Even over a month, total cost would probably be at most around £60. And by using different variants of message and content, I would hopefully avoid “fatigue” in terms of people seeing the same thing over and over again. That might be a price worth paying to understand which versions of my message or narrative were more likely to deliver the outcome I’m seeking.
Of course, how do you know in advance whether your message or content format will resonate with a given audience? In truth, there is no guarantee at all. Testing different messages and content variants is at least a way of getting some data and evidence to justify more investment in a particular route. The idea of A/B testing is hardly new. But whereas in the past the cost of setting up the tests may have been prohibitively expensive, relatively modest sums can provide useful indicators of whether or not a particular approach worth more investment – both paid and organically.
Other benefits of adding paid approaches to social media include the additional data about those who actually see the content. LinkedIn for example will provide data on job title, organisation, location, industry, etc of those people to whom your content was shown (obviously this is not personally identifiable information for GDPR reasons).
All of the social platforms whether Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest provide a means to ensure visibility of content through payment.
The CIPR Paid Media Management course will be taking place on 6 March in London and October 2nd in Newcastle – designed to show you how to effectively integrate paid social media into your PR & comms strategy. Learn to set objective, identify opportunities, select tactics, assign resources, and define metrics for your paid social media activity. Find out more about CIPR Training here.