Do You Need to Spend Money on Social Media Ads? A 6 Step Evaluation

First things first: to successfully promote and grow your business online, you absolutely need to engage in social media marketing. But of course, that’s a vague topic with almost countless possibilities. Most marketers, almost immediately upon getting started, ask themselves a simple question: can I do everything I need to do for free, or do I need to spend money on social media ads?

You won’t like our short answer: it depends. The long answer, hopefully, will be a bit more enlightening. Paid ads on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media networks are undoubtedly valuable for your business, if the situation is right. To determine whether that is the case, consider the below a 6 step evaluation on whether you can grow your business organically on social media, or need to spend money on ads.

1) Determine Your Budget 

Let’s start with the first, and most simple, step in this process. Put simply, if you don’t have a social media (or digital marketing) budget, you cannot spend it on ads. In other words, you should only engage in paid social media ads if you can actually afford to do so.

Most often, of course, you can find the money to run social media ads somewhere. For example, you can start to market your business on Facebook for as little as $5 per day, and a $500 monthly spend will give you a consistent reach of approximately 20,000 users depending on your targeting. But the simple truth remains: if you don’t have the money for paid social media marketing, don’t spend it.

2) Understand Your Current Social Media Brand Success

If you already have an established and successful social media brand presence, you may not need to pour money into it. An active audience of engaged followers who regularly share your content and website links is more effective than spending money to accomplish essentially the same thing with less credibility.

Just where you find that line between the need for paid ads and established success, of course, is more difficult to determine. Your goal should be to go deeper than reach or impressions, looking for the website clicks and conversions your organic efforts generate. A number of tools can help you measure these variables.

3) Examine Your Audience

A major benefit of paid ads is the ability to reach a segment of your target audience that’s not currently following you. For example, your Facebook page may have attracted a number of 30-49 year-olds in your immediate geographic area. But if you want to expand your business to a younger audience in a wider geographic range, that audience will not be helpful.

That distinction is what makes audience analysis so crucial in evaluating the potential worth of a paid campaign. A number of individual steps can help you better understand your audience, so that you can make a decision on whether you need to branch out or stay put in your marketing efforts.

4) Estimate the Value of Your Content

The best content converts on its own. Social media maven Neil Patel, for example, was able to generate 58 warm leads per week without spending a dime on paid ads simply by offering valuable gated content. Can your social media presence achieve the same results?

The answer to that question depends entirely on the quality of your content. Try to estimate its worth by evaluating how many views and leads it generates without paid efforts to promote it. In addition, you can ask your audience directly how they like it, and how likely they would be to share it.

5) Run a Pilot Ad

Sometimes, the best way to find out whether a marketing tactic would benefit your business is to try it out. Because of the above-mentioned low cost of social media ads, you can easily run a pilot that allows you to see the potential benefits of paid marketing efforts in this field.

The key is to be consistent. Run an ad that resembles an organic post, and link it to the same conversion-oriented field. Then, track the exact results you would get from both. After a set time period, compare the results you received. Did the ad result in clicks, shares, and conversions that are significant enough to justify its additional expense? If so, it may be time to roll social media promotions out on a wider basis.

6) Explore Your Outsourcing Options

Your final step, after the pilot ad has been successful, is to determine whether or not you can benefit from working with an external partner to enhance your efforts. Marketing agencies have been running social media ads for years, and are familiar with the targeting opportunities and success potential of the medium.

At the same time, naturally, working with an external company will increase your expense. It’s up to you to decide whether that additional expense is worth the improved returns you’ll receive, or whether you want to go down the road of spending your budget on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media ads on your own.

If you do decide that you want or need a partner to help you succeed, we’re here for you. We don’t believe that organic, unpaid success on social media is dead. At the same time, we also know that paid ads can increase the returns you get from the medium. As a result, we can sit down with you to discuss which options are best for you, helping your business succeed and grow on a sustainable level. To learn more about how a partnership can benefit your business and improve your social media marketing, contact us.

Darren Faber

About Darren Faber

Darren is one of the first employees Foxtail ever had. Aside from that he enjoys starring in low-budget rom-coms (true story, look it up).

Foxtail Marketing is a digital marketing firm that provides content marketing, digital marketing, and lead generation services for small and mid-market companies.

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