Social Media Meets Advertising: Promoted Content

Not long ago, it was easy to get ample traffic to your social media pages, or even to your website, by simply uploading a viral video or image. It was free advertising and marketers loved it. Today, however, it's much more difficult to go viral without spending money; you have to offer something extremely special, and when you do have that special thing, it probably won't be useful in promoting your brand. 

The shift from "anything goes" social sharing to "take it or leave it" paid promotion happened when social media became crowded.  This is when promoted content was born.

Social Media for Businesses Now

What are marketers doing now? Many marketers are still using social media the old, free way while others are also using promoted content. This is because gaining followers and generating leads is difficult without promoting content. By promoting content, you're essentially paying for increased visibility.

However, sometimes using promoted content means paying a lot for leads, awareness or sign ups. For example, some companies might end up paying $100 for a lead. On the bright side, sometimes the price per lead can be much cheaper. That is, social media companies have designed some useful targeting tools to help you reach the right people on social media. Some of these tools may not always be easy to use, but they enable precision targeting, better utilizing your marketing dollars. 

Linkedin is perfect for marketers who want to target a specific kind of professional, such as a buyer in the grocery industry. Facebook is better for targeting people with general interests or people who like a certain Facebook page. Other social media platforms have other advantages. For example, SnapChat is the favorite social media app among teens and college students.

Another positive aspect of using promoted content is the integrated nature of the sponsored information, which shows up embedded in social media "feeds." "Posts" or "updates" blend in well, which means people won't scroll past them too quickly, as consumers have learned to overlook banners, in-display ads and other ad types. However, things are always changing in digital advertising.

What Does Promoted Content Look Like?

Promoted content looks very similar to a regular social medial post or update. The area designated for your Facebook friend's cat video looks just like the area designated for a promoted post from an advertiser on Facebook. The difference is that promoted content is tagged with"sponsored" to let users know they're seeing an advertisement. There are buttons for liking, following, sharing, etc. inside sponsored content posts, in most platforms.

Sponsoring of posts is available in most social media networks these days, but the old banner ad hasn't disappeared. Social Media applications like Facebook allow advertising with banner ads and with sponsored posts, both having their own costs and customization options. There are even social media management applications that can be used to manage sponsored posts. An example is Hootsuite.

Who Uses Promoted Content?

According to Content Marketing Institute, around 65% of survey respondents pay to promote content. They promote everything from white papers to research reports. White papers are most commonly promoted, followed by blog posts, earned media and webinars. More survey respondents used native ads (promoted/sponsored content) in social media than search engine marketing ads. However, the figures only differ by two percent.1 Both are effective lead generation channels when managed well.

How Do I Get Started?

At isotree, our experts specialize in lead generation and work with you to develop optimal strategy to to meet your needs, while minimizing costs.

Whether you're interested in paid search or promoted content, Contact us today to discuss how we can help make your business or website successful! 


1. "Promoting Your Content Marketing: Time to Orchestrate the Concert of Paid Media." Content Marketing Institute. Feb 4, 2015. (link)


Maxim Kurapatkin