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Why You Shouldn’t Separate Paid Media From Social

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on Forrester Research findings that Facebook ads outperform those on other social sites.  At the core of this story is Forrester’s report titled “It’s Time to Separate ‘Social’ From ‘Media’:  Why Marketers Must Hand Social Ad Budgets to Media Buyers.”
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Don’t Isolate Social and Media

Wait a minute.  Let’s start there first.  We’ve been using, and value the relationship that we’ve had with, Forrester over the years but have to respectfully disagree on this one.  Our stance is “Don’t Isolate ‘Social’ and ‘Media’.”  Instead of separating the two, infuse trained media buyers into your social community to boost social content.  Why?  Because at the very core of the best performing “boosted content” (not ads) is a fundamental understanding of the social platform and its respective community.  This connectivity is essential to ensuring content resonates with the audience on the platform to return the optimal results for the dollars spent.
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Media efficiencies are gained from creating community-relevant content

We know that organic reach is dismal, we were one of the first to report on it.   But putting money behind “ads” isn’t quite getting it right.  There is a disconnect if you just let someone run wild in a social ad buying tool, native or 3rd party, if they aren’t in some way connected to a community.  We’ve seen time and time again clients coming to us with well-designed advertisements completely floundering on social.
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Do they spend the budget?  Yep.  Is it efficient?  Absolutely not.  And if marketers are indeed spending 83% of their social dollars on paid, as the article reports, then that’s called waste.  Why?  Because the buys work like an auction and the less the audience is accepting content then the higher the bid will be in most cases.  So, if you spend $.40 to buy an action but could have spent $.25 if you used better, more “social” content, and your budget is $1M, then you just created $375K in waste.  I actually liken this to the process of negotiating a more traditional media buy.  If you don’t negotiate as well as you could have to get the best possible rate with the most value add you can squeeze, you spend the money but not efficiently as you could have.  If you have a buy for 10MM impressions at a CPM of $10 the cost is $100K.  If you didn’t negotiate optimally and could have bought those same impressions at an $8 CPM with 2M impressions in value-add, you just wasted $26K – $20K in negotiations and $6K in value-add (putting a lower value CPM of $3 on the value-added impressions).
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Just like you lose money because negotiations fell short, you lose money when you don’t optimize content for an auction based system, especially one like Facebook that uses a “relevance score”.  This is a ratings system for promoted content based on a scale from 1-10, with the 10 being the best.  If you score a 10, it is expected that there will be more positive feedback compared to a score of 1.  Positive actions depend on the objective but may include views, clicks, engagements, etc.
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What is important here, and strongly connected to ROI, is that the higher the score for a piece of content the less you pay for delivery on that content.   What we’ve seen in our practice is content that are more like a traditional “ad” (promotion of a product, service, or event) receive lower relevancy scores resulting in higher costs.
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Conversely, content that follows the approach we described, coined Organish™, results in a higher relevancy score and drives down the cost.  While channels such as Twitter do not have a ratings system like that of Facebook, the same trend occurs-content that would likely do well organically have the highest ROI.  While we fully understand the benefits of having trained media buyers at the forefront of buying, we don’t agree on having them so separate that what was intended to create efficiencies actually results in waste.  Being infused with social community and understanding what resonates best with them has a better impact on the bottom line.
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