UK Companies must embrace the opportunities Paid Social has to offer in 2016

If we step back four or five years, we remember days where brand messaging on social media platforms generated in some cases more than 40–50% organic reach. Now it has dwindled to low single digit percentages in terms of reach unless you fall into celebrity arena or an emergent class of new media publishers as such Vox, Vice Media or Buzzfeed.

Today we are moving towards an era of “Facebook and Twitter zero” whereby almost all organic content apart from the exceptional content creators of this world will find their organic activities generate less than 2% organic reach.

Most big brands employee agencies staffed with lots of wonderfully talented people to produce content. Creating a single post can require up to three people to create, edit and publish something on a social channel. Let us assume each person is employed at a day rate of £800 / £100 per hour. Let us also assume that you have a good page that organically reaches 1,000 people per day. Usually the process of content planning, production and publishing can take up to six hours. Your effective CPM (cost per 1000 in advertising parlance) is going to be in the region of £600. To reach 1,000 people without any paid advertising.

This is just for ONE post.

Whereas, the cost to reach 1,000 users depending on who you are targeting and how many of the audience you want to reach will rarely breach over £8.00 based on a CPM buying model with paid advertising.

If you are a brand / advertising your organic content will struggle to move the needle from a brand awareness standpoint which means it cannot influencer harder brand metrics such as purchase consideration, brand recall or any uplift metrics.

Advances in targeting on social channels have stemmed from the enormous amount of user data which can be applied to target the exact audience in a way we have never seen before. This increases your advertising and message relevance meaning you can serve highly relevant content to clusters of different audiences. Here are four advances that stand out:

Interest targeting: Reach specific audiences by looking at their self-reported interests, activities, skills, pages/users they have engaged with.

Behavioral/Connection targeting: With behavioral targeting, you can reach people based on purchase behaviors or intents and/or device usage.

Custom Audiences: Reach audiences by uploading a list of email addresses, phone numbers, users IDs, or usernames. Facebook calls its custom targeting Custom Audiences, while Twitter calls its own Tailored Audiences

Lookalike targeting: Reach new people who are similar to an audience you care about. Lookalike targeting helps businesses extend their custom audiences to reach new, similar users.

There is no denying that reaching users while on mobile devices is the next big wave in advertising — and social media advertising is the best native option. Mobile users are already checking social channels multiple times a day so advertising to them while they’re within those mobile apps is the best way to reach them without being disruptive. Mobile advertising now becomes important especially for full-funnel marketing campaigns where you are able to decide what types of advertising reach people at specific points in the day to drive engagement and eventually follow up with conversion based advertising to drive sales.

More content is now being published than our ability to consume. Every moment of the day, more than 1500 stories attempt to reach a given users Newsfeed login. This has been reduced to approximately 300 highly relevant stories mainly driven by actions each user takes when interacting with content on the Facebook platform. This means while organic reach of content has value it has rapidly declined in the last five years to an average of 2% for most brands. This means the requirement for Paid Social within Facebook is essential as 18+ million businesses are competing for space in the Newsfeed.

In the year 2016, all businesses will need to embrace paid social whether that be:

1/ Dedicating budget internally for small activations on organic posts: We now have software solutions that can help internal brand teams whether these are social customer service reps, community managers or platform specialists “boost” posts with small ad budgets in order to reach their own fans.

2/ Building out a team dedicated to this activity with your existing agency: as Paid Social becomes a fundamental requirement for business more teams will work specifically on these campaigns within large media agencies. These agencies are staffed with experts across the universe of platforms and hold relationships directly with vendors, which ensure campaign success.

3/ Ensuring your strongest creative assets are applied to the right platform / ad format: All platforms now have ensure there is a perfect ad format for all creative types. This means all brands can now create experiences on Social platforms that do not interrupt but instead add value and become part of the native experience on the platform.

It is easy to forget that social media advertising did not exist a decade ago. Today, forecasts by e-Marketer project Paid Social ad spend to generate $11bn in revenue by 2017.

My big prediction for next year will be that businesses of all sizes will carve out budget specifically for Paid Social which means more job creation (via in-house or dedicated agency teams) and a committed line item for advertising budget to take advantage of the opportunities on offer. Advances in cross-device targeting, user identification, buying audiences (not channels), retargeting and the use of location data will boost confidence and investment for years to come.