What Is Paid Social and How Does It Work?

What Is Paid Social and How Does It Work?

In a world where your potential customers are scrolling, swiping, and sharing more than ever on their favorite social media platforms, paid social advertising has become the Holy Grail for businesses looking to boost their online presence and engage with their target audience. 

If you’ve only been relying on organic content, your social media strategy needs an upgrade – organic social simply doesn’t cut it anymore. So, whether you’re a seasoned digital marketer or just dipping your toes into the vast ocean of social media advertising, this blog post is your all-in-one guide to unraveling the intriguing universe of paid social.

What is paid social, exactly? How does it work? And how can you incorporate it into your social media campaign to win over your social media audience? Keep reading because we’ve got all the answers you’re looking for.

Let’s boost your social media efforts by devising a brilliant social media strategy with paid ads leading the way. After all, no 21st-century digital marketing strategy can thrive or even survive without them.

Paid Social Media Landscape Demystified: What Is Paid Social?

social media marketing concept

Let’s kick things off with the fundamental question: What is paid social? In essence, it’s the art and science of using paid advertising methods on social media platforms to reach your target audience effectively. 

It’s like setting up shop at a bustling market square but in the digital realm. Instead of just relying on your organic posts, this social strategy means paying to put your message right in front of social media users who matter most to your business.

It’s social media advertisement 101!

Social Media Marketing: Beyond the “Boost” Button

While many of us are familiar with the occasional “boost” button on Facebook or Instagram, paid social is so much more than just clicking one on social advertising platforms. It’s a strategic approach that requires a deep understanding of social networks, different types of content, relevant audience behavior, and the ever-evolving digital landscape.

So, the true answer to the question: “What is paid social?” lies in a robust social media advertising strategy – a tangled web of diverse content types and social ad formats built with conversion in mind that hit the bullseye with target audiences and result in sky-high conversion rates.

But how does it all come together in practice? 

Paid Social Marketing Mechanics: The Inner Workings

Paid social works by allowing businesses to create and run targeted social media ads on various social media channels. 

Here’s how it all works behind the scenes of a paid social campaign:

1. Choose Your Battlefield: Selecting the Right Social Media Networks

The world of social media is vast, and your ideal audience may not be everywhere. To get the most bang for your buck, you must identify the social media platforms that align with your business goals and focus on advertising on platforms where your potential customers hang out. Popular options include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and TikTok.

Pro Tip: Different social media networks cater to different demographics and interests. For instance, if you’re promoting a B2B service, LinkedIn is the go-to platform for B2B advertising, while lifestyle brands may thrive with Instagram Ads or Pinterest. Facebook Ads will get your content in front of boomers, while TikTok will win over Gen Z for you. 

2. Define Your Ideal Audience: Targeting with Precision

One of the superpowers of paid social? The ability to laser-target your audience according to your social media advertising strategy instead of throwing darts in the dark at a broad audience, hoping for the best. You can slice and dice your ideal customers based on demographics, interests, target customer behavior, and location.

This precision targeting ensures that your ads are shown to the people most likely to convert into customers, making it extremely cost-effective. Placing your paid advertisements in front of the right internet users at the right time isn’t just about garnering a surge in likes, video views, and shares and converting – it can also ignite user-generated content and awareness campaigns naturally.

3. Craft the Perfect Ad: Content is King

What is paid social? Your paid ad is your digital salesperson, and it must be compelling without being overly salesy. Social media ads come in various formats and content types, from image ads to video ads and everything in between. The key is to boost your social advertising campaigns with high-quality visual content that resonates with your target audience and aligns with your business goals.

  • Short-form content is your secret weapon in a world where attention spans are shorter than ever. Think about it: you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, and a 15-second video pops up. It’s quick, it’s engaging, and it leaves you wanting more. That’s the magic of short-form content. Whether it’s a punchy caption, a witty tweet, or a concise video, these bite-sized pieces of content can deliver your message effectively with the right visual appeal and make the most of the limited time you have to capture your audience’s attention.
  • While short-form content is great for catching the eye, you also need a certain volume of content to stay top-of-mind with your audience. Consistency is key, and a robust content strategy ensures that you maintain a steady presence on your chosen social platforms.

4. Set Your Budget: Making Every Penny Count

Organic social is great, but paid social doesn’t mean breaking the bank. You have complete control over your marketing budget, and you can start with a small amount to test the waters. As you see results and refine your strategies, you can scale up your investment.

The beauty of paid social is that it not only empowers you to reach your ideal audience but also provides you with valuable data to measure your success. In other words, you’re not just tossing coins into a well and hoping for a wish to come true; you’re making informed decisions based on real numbers.

One of the most critical metrics to watch is Cost per Acquisition (CPA) – it tells you how much you spend to acquire a new customer or lead. For instance, if you run a campaign on Facebook and spend $500, and as a result, gain 20 new customers, your CPA is $25 per customer. Keeping a close eye on your CPA helps you assess the efficiency of your campaigns and optimize your budget allocation.

In addition to CPA, you’ll want to monitor:

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): Tells you how many people who saw your ad actually clicked on it. A higher CTR indicates that your ad is relevant and engaging.
  • Conversion Rate: Tracks the percentage of people who took the desired action after seeing your ad, like making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter.
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): Measures the revenue generated for every dollar spent. If your ROAS is 5:1, it means you’re making $5 for every $1 spent on ads.
  • Ad Relevance Score: Some platforms like Facebook provide this score, which reflects how well your ad resonates with your audience. A higher score often leads to lower costs and better reach.

Paid social advertising is not about throwing your entire marketing budget into the abys but about optimizing your spending to maximize your return on investment. The delicate balance between cost and reach is where the art of paid social truly shines.

5. Monitor and Optimize: The Devil Is in the Details

In the world of digital marketing, knowledge is power. And what is paid social? Data at your fingertips. Bingo! You can track the performance of your ads in real time, making adjustments as needed. This ability to tweak and refine your campaigns allows you to get the best ROI, and it’s what sets paid social apart from traditional advertising methods.

Your paid social strategy should evolve as you gather data. If you notice that a particular campaign delivers a high ROI, you might consider increasing your budget to scale up your success. Conversely, if it’s underperforming, it’s time to reevaluate and make necessary adjustments. 

By closely monitoring these metrics and adjusting your budget accordingly, you can ensure that every penny you invest counts towards achieving your business goals. 

What Is Paid Social IRL? Real-World Success Stories 

To make things more tangible, let’s dive into a couple of real-world examples of savvy brands to show you what paid social is all about:

  • Domino’s Pizza: Click for Cravings

Domino’s Pizza is a brand that knows how to satisfy cravings and keep customers engaged using paid social. They launched the “Easy Order” campaign on Twitter, allowing customers to place their pizza orders by simply clicking a single “Easy Order” button. 

This innovative strategy made the ordering process incredibly convenient and showcased how paid social can simplify user experiences. Domino’s saw a notable increase in customer engagement and orders, proving that paid social advertising isn’t just about exposure; it’s about delivering convenience and value to the customer.

  • Coca-Cola: Share a Coke and a Smile

Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign is a prime example of how paid social can generate user-generated content and foster meaningful connections. By personalizing their product labels with individual names, Coca-Cola encouraged customers to find and share their unique bottles on social media using the hashtag #ShareaCoke. 

This clever strategy not only resulted in a flurry of user-generated content but also led to increased brand loyalty and engagement. Coca-Cola tapped into the emotional aspect of sharing a drink with a friend or loved one, and their paid social campaign became a social media sensation.

The Future of Paid Social: What Lies Ahead

computer and tablet on the desk

Okay, now we know what is paid social today and how we can get the most out of it. But what will it become? As the digital landscape evolves, paid social will continue to adapt and innovate. 

Here are some trends to keep an eye on:

  • Ephemeral Content: The rise of stories on platforms like Instagram and Facebook is changing how we consume content. Ephemeral content, which disappears after a set period, such as Snapchat or Instagram stories, is gaining traction for businesses looking to engage their audience. 
  • AI and Automation: Machine learning and artificial intelligence are used to optimize ad delivery, making social media marketing campaigns even more efficient and cost-effective. 
  • Video Dominance: Video content is projected to dominate the paid social arena. Businesses that invest in high-quality video ads are likely to see increased engagement on social channels.

So, What Is Paid Social? It’s Your Ticket to Success!

In the digital marketing land, paid social is your trusty sidekick on the path to online domination. By grasping the nitty-gritty mechanics, reaping the benefits, and keeping your finger on the pulse of the latest trends, you’re primed to reap the advantages of your paid social media marketing efforts.

So, what is paid social in it’s core? It’s not about throwing money into the abyss and crossing your fingers. No, it’s about pumping life into your business, nurturing growth, and making your success story a reality. Think of it as an investment, not an expense!

The world of paid social is your oyster, fellow marketers. Dive right in and start crafting those brilliant social ad campaigns that’ll take your brand to the next level. Remember, it’s not just about eyeballs on your content; it’s about forging real connections and achieving results that can be measured, celebrated, and duplicated.

mladen cta button

Go ahead, seize the digital day! And if you ever need a hand with social media ads, get in touch – we’re here to help.

Related Posts

influencers making a digital marketing plan

18 Different Types of Influencers Based on Follower Count And Niche


If you're a business owner diving into the world of influencer marketing, understanding the diverse landscape of influencers is crucial. The collaboration potential with these digital tastemakers varies not only based on their follower count…

creating shoppable video

Shoppable Video: What It Is & How to Create One


Modern ecommerce customers are looking for experiences that are both quick and engaging, showcasing products in the best possible light. Rather than sticking to traditional static displays, there's a growing interest in using shoppable videos. …

young blogger influencer

How to Find A Good Influencer for Your Brand


Social media platforms have become a marketplace for ideas, trends, and products, and influencers are the driving force behind this cultural shift. Through their online presence, these individuals can impact and shape the opinions, preferences,…

tiktok vs instagram

TikTok vs. Instagram for Business: Which Platform Should You Choose?


Social media has become an integral part of modern business strategies, and two platforms that have gained significant prominence are TikTok and Instagram. Both platforms boast large, ready-to-buy audiences, making them attractive for businesses seeking…