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November 4, 2020 - By Hawke Media

A Brief History of Paid Social Media

Social media advertising has actually been around since Facebook was called The Facebook, but it’s evolved a lot. To understand the importance of paid social media ads, we need to look at their history.

The Evolution of Facebook and Early Social Apps

In 2003, Facebook was still called The Facebook, and it offered Flyers. Flyers were used for campus events and such, just like IRL flyers, since the app was only for college students. There was, however, Flyers Pro, which allowed buyers to place a bid to get their flyer in front of key demographics.

You may not think of LinkedIn as a major player in the social spending space, but in 2006, three years after its conception, LinkedIn was one of the first players to introduce the tactic to their feeds. LinkedIn also had paid subscription models, so the ads weren’t its only form of revenue. Hot on its heels was YouTube, which introduced ads in 2007. YouTube didn’t (yet) have other tiers of subscriptions, but they had an interesting twist on their model: you could skip the ads! That seems counterintuitive except that it gave YouTube the ability to promise their ads would only be seen by interested audiences, which allowed them to charge more.

In 2008, Facebook introduces Pages, which gave businesses a designated space on the platform. With this came targeted ads. Building off the Flyers days, the ability to target key demographics based on customer’s Facebook behavior, likes, and other biographical information, was unmatched.

In 2010, a little late to the party, Twitter introduces Promoted Tweets.

In some ways 2012 seems like an eternity ago. In other ways, it was just yesterday. Instagram was still a fledgling social app, just starting to expand beyond use for photographers. Facebook’s Newfeed still ran chronologically… oh, and it was called a Newsfeed. More importantly, this was when Facebook raised the bar on advertising, creating APIs that could adjust spending based on ad performance and Lookalike Audiences to help brands reach people who had not previously engaged with the brand before.

Fast forward just two years later. In 2014, Facebook decides to disrupt the market and change its algorithm for how people see content on their feed. This causes panic for businesses and celebrities trying to reach their followers.  As Facebook grew and more posts were being shared, space on the feed became much more competitive. Overnight, engagement became the defining metric for social media managers. If a follower didn’t engage with a poster regularly, the user would stop seeing posts from that person or brand.

The Rise of Paid Social Media

Paid social media is some of the most effective outreach marketing that a brand can do to interact with followers and spread out its reach. Paid social media guarantees that your posts make it to where users are paying attention. It is your way as a brand to meet people where they already spend their time online. It’s like having a storefront in a popular mall. According to GWI, 26% of social media users say they tend to buy brands they see advertised.

By 2016, it wasn’t enough to just post on social media apps. You needed assets – preferably videos but at least photos. Photos and video engage nearly twenty times that of text-only updates, so try to stick with visual postings to promote.

Today, social media advertising requires a lot from brands. Images and videos aren’t enough. Tiktok advertising demands that brands be a part of current trends. A strong organic presence has to stand beside an advertising approach, with a voice that makes sense for the brand and doesn’t feel out of place on the platform. It can be a lot, which is why more and more brands are either hiring massive internal teams or hiring experts like Hawke Media. Schedule a free call to discuss your goals today.

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