Erica DePinto
by: Erica DePinto

Are Paid Advertisements Worth it?

The big time social media question of the week… Are paid advertisements worth it?

In short, yes, if you put the effort in.

The plus side to paid advertisements are they’re a great way to guide more traffic to your site and potentially increase business. The downside is that they can become expensive quickly and they’re not the easiest to manage, as it take time and effort to analyze your data and make appropriate changes frequently.

As we say often, social media is free advertising so the first step in the process is building up an online presence for free, getting a lay of the land, and then considering paid ventures.

Places to do paid advertisements:

Adwords:

Moderately difficult to use for first timers. This is the most common form of paid advertising, it goes through Google and comes in many forms. It’s tricky to begin with, but widely used for businesses big and small. It’s a great application for a long term option, as it’s pay-per-click (so it’s less expensive), but needs to be kept up with, adjusted, and part of an everyday/weekly marketing schedule. 

Facebook:

Super easy to use. Facebook actually has some really great settings within their ad campaign manager that allows you to track different variables. You can also target to different audiences, down to what they “like” on Facebook. While it may not be as effective/in depth as Adwords, it’s significantly easier and less time consuming. The only downside is, you are only hitting users who are on Facebook.

Twitter:

Easy to use, similar to Facebook usability. Twitter has an advertising option as well, though less users are on Twitter daily. I also find it easier to scroll past Twitter advertisements than Facebook or Instagram, and my main objective when using Twitter is usually to find news, not putz around. While this could be an option for many businesses, it is not my recommended choice.

Instagram:

Super easy to use, can link to Facebook advertisements. Instagram is a great way to get your product out there in front of the eyes of thousands for a small price and minimal effort. Because Insta is owned by Facebook, you can combine ads or separate them, and they run similar analytics within their campaigns. Instagram ads would be most ideal for a business selling a product that can be pictured, like art. 

Linked In:

Easy to use, effective long term. LinkedIn has a similar interface when it comes to self service ad creation as Facebook. You can manage your short and long campaigns by a variety of things, and work towards goals. Only problem with LinkedIn, is the user’s and their time spent on the application. For me, LinkedIn is not a place where I scroll through my news feed looking at articles. I’m there primarily for jobs, making connections, building relationships, and investigating companies or people. In other words, if you’re trying to advertise to a mid 20’s female in the media industry located in Stamford, CT, you’re not going to strike gold with LinkedIn Advertising. 

Stumble Upon:

Moderate in ease of use. StumbleUpon is essentially a discovery engine of entertainment in a multitude of ways. Categories are set within your user profile and you can set it to stumble on website of ‘dogs’ forever. I used to use it in college a lot, and in my freetime when I was bored. It will probably draw a younger generation of people, as adults don’t exactly have all the time in the world to browse the depth of the internet for hours on end. StumbleUpon charges by page view so every time someone stumbles on your webpage, you are charged. 

Paid advertisement seems easy enough, but why do so many business owners feel like it’s a monumental waste of time and resources?

Not having a clear cut goal is a huge mistake when it comes to any type of advertising. It also will lead to underwhelming results. The most obvious “goal” for ads are lead generation, or sales. This is not always the case when it comes to online advertisements, as there’s a variety of ways ads can be successful that do not include hard “sales”. 

1. Page likes, this shows someone is interested in your business enough to learn more about it as things develop. Posting free content, or paid, will continue to put your business name on their timeline whenever you post, maybe enticing them to a sale eventually. More page likes, more opportunity for sales in the future. 

2. Post engagement could mean comments, likes, shares, or views. Getting your post in front of thousands of people could lead to a sale eventually. The odds are in your favor with more sets of eyes seeing your advertisements.

3. Email subscriptions which is another form of page likes. Building a database of emails to send campaigns out to is essential no matter what market your business falls into. Email campaigns are also a free way to reach your entire audience and building a database is very important in the long run.

4. Website click throughs are also a fundamental measuring stick of success. People coming to your website is one huge way to measure successful online campaigns, though it’s quite difficult to tell if it leads to sales.

One big problem business owners run into is lack of time and not knowing where they can advertise effectively. 

In the case of ROI, it can be measured in a multitude of ways aside from hard sales, so setting a realistic goal is a huge step in the online advertising process.  Return on investment (ROI) requires an “investment”, whether that be time or money; effort and funds are essential. Expecting huge numbers with minimal “investing” could also lead to a skewed expectation in advertising results. 

Online advertisements is not something you do once, or every so often, it’s something you should do for the future and continue to adjust. For it to truly yield results, you must put the work into it, finesse your plans, and adjust your goals. Dedicate your time and funds for a serious study, as online ads are not a quick-fix solution, but rather a long term plan requiring patience and observation.

Online advertisements are worth it in the end, but need to be considered part of every day efforts. 

As always,

Your Local Zocle