Need a Boost?

November 9, 2015

by T.M. Camp

A recent study has revealed that people rank sponsored posts as the most effective marketing tactic on social media.

Based on the data, the findings indicate that nine out of the top 10 marketing tactics deemed “most effective” were all sponsored social media messages.

Just in case you’re not familiar with the term, here’s what a sponsored post is: Virtually every social media site is free to use. Anyone (including companies) can go on, create a profile, and start posting. These sites make their money off of paid advertising, of course. And one of the advertising options they offer is a “sponsored” post — that is, someone paid to have their post show up in the feed of people who would not ordinarily see it.

Sponsored posts can be targeted on a variety of levels—demographically, geographically, audience interests, etc.— and, as we now have hard data to confirm, they can be an incredibly powerful marketing tool.

The survey in question polled people in the US between the ages of 18 to 70 who visit a social media site or app at least once a month. So while this is not exactly a global snapshot, it is a broad sampling to consider. And the study doesn’t identify which industries benefit more from sponsored posting.

I’ll be honest, I was surprised by this study. We employ sponsored posting (aka “boosting”) in our strategy, though our goal is to help improve the reach of a particular message rather than track a direct call to action and conversion. This was a necessity when Facebook changed the rules on post visibility back in 2014 [LINK - I’m writing a separate article on this topic].

But the main reason I was surprised by this study was that, in my own personal experience, I didn’t feel that sponsored posts were particularly effective for lead generation or conversion. In my own mind, I would scroll right past them, mildly annoyed at their intrusion into my carefully curated stream. Honestly, I considered myself a bit “backstage” due to my role in the industry. “Those sponsored posts don’t work on me because I know what they are.”

Typical arrogance for a professional Internet-Smarty-Pants, I know.

After reading the study, however, I started noticing something strange… I was actually liking, sharing, and clicking on sponsored posts a lot more than I realized. Nearly every Kickstarter I’ve backed over the past few years first hit my radar screen thanks to a sponsored post on Facebook. And at least five different gadgets that ended up on my Amazon wish list last year were discovered thanks to sponsored posts on Pinterest and Facebook.

All of that being said, this is one other thing in the study worth mentioning: Sponsored posts on Periscope, Snapchat, and Instagram “scored higher than the “traditional” social platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.” It’s hard to say whether that’s because Facebook and Twitter might be perceived as old school, or just that there’s more enthusiasm for the newer, more immediately engaging platforms.

Time will tell, I suppose.

Interested in collaborating on your next project?