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Why paid media is essential in social marketing’s next phase

4 min read

Social Media

The first phase of social media marketing wasn’t really about marketing at all. It focused on amassing fans, and monitoring and responding to brand chatter. In phase one, organic or “owned” media and the pursuit of viral or “earned” media were the order of the day. However, as Jeremiah Owyang has so eloquently articulated, we have entered the next phase of social media marketing, where we must capitalize on how all three elements – paid, owned and earned – converge. And, while the social networks obviously want us to spend money with them, they are working hard to make sure our dollars are effective and go further.

As brands spend billions of dollars in social, it’s not only important that the networks expand their marketing tool sets, but also that digital marketers understand that nothing is more important to social media marketing success than the combination of segmentation, creative, content AND media dollars. Organic posting, even if you have millions of fans, just won’t drive business outcomes at scale, and ultimately, this is what CMOs demand.

Twitter has generally taken a slow, deliberate approach to paid advertising, but the pending IPO will most definitely accelerate their efforts. Promoted tweets allow you to extend the reach of your tweets to key segments and they are proving to be very effective. Since you can link to a rich media experience in a tweet, combining rich media with promoted tweets is a very smart strategy.

Facebook carries the lead in creating tools and opportunities for marketers with advertising dollars. Although Facebook provides targeting on organic posts, it is minimal. Marketers can increase reach among fans and friends of fans with promoted posts and sponsored stories, but these are blunt tools.

The immense power of Facebook news feed advertising is unlocked with “unpublished” posts that can leverage all of the features available to marketplace ads. For example, unpublished posts can target key segments in the entire Facebook ecosystem; can be used for A/B or even lightweight multivariant testing; and can take advantage of retargeting, for example.

Moreover, Facebook allows advertisers to upload lists of e-mail addresses, phone numbers or Facebook App IDs to create ad segments. Translated: Brands with a significant house list but not very many fans can leverage their existing database to reach loyal customers on Facebook. They can also use the “lookalikes” function to extend their list to reach people who Facebook deems similar.

While community managers may be doing a great job engaging the fan base and reaching friends of fans, a poll about someone’s favorite color is much less effective than a rich, in-stream advertisement in which they can view and select their favorite car color and make an appointment for a test drive. In fact, research shows that posts with rich interactive experiences behind them average 600% lower negative feedback rates as consumers seems to appreciate interactivity and content designed for their social mobile context.

The second phase of social media marketing is here and will be focused on applying all of the disciplines of digital marketing from reach to engagement through conversion.  More importantly, community management is not marketing in its fullest sense. To be successful — to drive sustained business value at scale — brands must be prepared to smartly spend media dollars, simultaneously testing new tools and doubling down where they’ve experienced measurable success.

Marko Muellner is vice president of marketing at ShopIgniter. As a performance-driven marketing executive with over 15 years in digital, Marko has managed cross-channel, integrated and multi-touch marketing strategy, creative development and account management for MillerCoors Brewing, adidas America, Webtrends, ShopIgniter,, Razorfish, Magnet Interactive, Digital Evolution and others.