The Pros and Cons of Paid Social Media

Choosing to invest in paid social media advertising can feel like a gamble. Is the time, effort, and budget it requires really worth it to your business—do the benefits outweigh the costs? Let’s look at the pros and cons of social media, and their potential impact on your business!

The Positive Side of Social Media

Build Your Brand

A good social media strategy can strengthen your brand identity, build trust with your current customers, and attract new customers—but it requires time. If you are looking to build your brand, and you’re in it for the long haul, social media may be right for you.

Social media ads can also offer a way to make your brand stand out and target your customer persona. Each platform offers different ad formats that can offer more room for creativity. If you can produce engaging, quality creative, your brand can really stand out.

Expand Brand Awareness

Likewise, social media advertising can be a great way to extend your brand awareness beyond the more traditional marketing channels. Many platforms (including Facebook) also allow you to retarget users who have previously visited your site and/or made a purchase. These audiences have granularity similar to that offered by Google Ads. You can serve ads specifically to people who visited a certain page or subset of pages and segment out prior converters, among other options.

Additionally, you can expand your market. If you are trying to break into a new market with different products or grab an audience that doesn’t currently fit your customer base. The audience targeting gives you options such as lookalike audiences to expand your customer base.

The Challenges of Social Media Advertising

Limited Ad Space

The biggest thing to understand on social media is that your ad inventory is limited. Even though Facebook has about 3 billion users, each of those users only has 1 news feed—which means you only have one place to grab your customers’ attention.

With limited ad space comes higher competition and with higher competition comes higher pricing. Clicks are often more expensive than on Google or Bing, meaning you may need a substantial budget to get your campaigns off the groun


Social Media ads take a team of people (or at least a dedicated person with a variety of skills!) to run a good campaign. The campaign manager works with creative to produce ads and the Social Media coordinator to get input from the interaction of the ads. You will need to have the budget to make quality creative, along with a deep understanding of your target customer. If you’re not posting what your audience wants, you’ll waste budget and miss opportunities. Testing ads is the best way to find out what works on different platforms, but it takes time and personnel. Social Media ads need a quality budget and a collaborative team.

Audience Targeting

It’s hard to say what Facebook takes into consideration when they build their audiences. With paid search, you know that you’re targeting people that searched this keyword: definitively they have searched for that keyword. In search, you can use longer-tailed keywords to identify intent. However, that is difficult to do with audiences.

Creating different campaigns for top-of-funnel, middle-funnel and bottom-of-funnel can be essential in creating profitable audiences. Other audience strategies might be using audiences from Google Analytics and remarketing audiences. Not only is it important to have quality creative but a creative strategy can get you far. For example, if you are targeting a specific interest (i.e. a book) placing your product next to that book on a bookshelf, as your creative helps the audience identify with your brand. Audience targeting requires lots of testing and using creative strategies to gain users’ attention.

Is Paid Social Media Right For You?

While there are obstacles you may run into while advertising on paid social, it doesn’t mean you should avoid them. Take the necessary precautions like having enough budget to account for higher costs and closely tracking your campaign success and you can be prepared to overcome these challenges.

On the flipside, paid social advertising creates many opportunities for advertisers to grow their brand, create brand awareness, and remarket to your current customers. Whether this makes the investment worth it — that all depends on your business, and your goals!

Want to learn more about making paid social media profitable for your business? Check out our ebook, “Metrics Don’t Lie: An In-depth Guide to Attribution” to learn how to attribute sales from paid social! 

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