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The State of Social Advertising 2014

Socialbakers surveyed over 500 marketing professionals, spanning 82 countries and 20 industries to better understand where social media is heading in 2014. The State of Social Marketing, Part One, concerned the priorities and practices of marketers. Part Two defines the state of social media advertising, from how Fortune 500 companies operate with no social advertising budget to why Twitter struggles to attract advertisers.

Read Part One: The State of Social Marketing

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Supporting organic reach with paid advertising is the new normal in social media marketing. No matter how targeted or engaging your content is, the fact remains, the social party is crowded and you have to pay for a soapbox. But 14% of companies with more than 5,000 employees reported a $0 social ad budget for 2014. Their content stands alone to fight the noise and competition increasingly present in users’ News Feeds, both from personal connections and competing brands.

However, most companies who know how valuable a well-optimized social strategy can be understand that social advertising is a must. Furthermore, it’s money well spent for brands who optimize and measure their social ad performance.

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It’s not shocking that marketers say News Feed (native) ads are more effective than other placement options. But when you look closely at specified News Feed placements (desktop News Feed vs mobile News Feed vs desktop/mobile News Feed) it becomes clear that marketers aren’t able to distinguish between the three placement types. This points to the fact that marketers are still evolving and learning to fully leverage improved ad targeting provided by leading social networks. The majority have yet to discover the benefit of creating mobile specific content and CTAs.

However, if we compare similar data from a survey conducted in January 2013, we can see that marketers are getting smarter. Then, 81% of Facebook ads used “Facebook All” placement. As of December 2013, that number has been reduced to 42% and News Feed ads lead the way for effective social advertising by a landslide. Right-hand side ads were so 2009.

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The fact that brands are not flocking to Twitter’s adver­tising platform may not speak directly to the platforms’ ability to offer something of value, but rather, to marketers’ inability to effectively adapt to this new form of social advertising.

Twitter launched promoted posts and promoted tweets in March 2012 to a select number of small business and has cautiously expanded this select group to include beverages, athletic apparel, and even a certain Commander-in-chief. Despite Twitter advertisings’ unique appeal, advanced targeting, and proven ROI for a number of brands and verticals, most brands have been quicker to adapt to social advertising on LinkedIn, YouTube, and the Mother of Platform Monetization, Facebook.

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13.5: that’s the average number of social media pages managed by marketers in our survey. That’s more than 13 different pages (potentially of various countries, languages, and products) that all need to publish and promote content at the right time, to the right audience. But even so, the majority of marketers replied that they manage their social advertising via native platforms!

While many social networks, such as Facebook, have made leaps and bounds to improve their advertising platforms, this approach does not provide any efficiencies for managing multiple pages across multiple social networks. Using a 3rd party application for social advertising simplifies the experience giving marketers more time to do what they do best – create amazing and engaging content for their audience.

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One might conclude that along with company growth and expanded resources, something like social media – a function so close to the heart and soul of brand’s identity – would be reigned-in and managed in-house. This data, however, paints a different picture of social media outsourcing: the bigger the company, the more social media work is outsourced. But if you take a closer look at the data, something changes when it comes to post boosting. When compared to ad management and performance reporting, many brands that prefer to outsource social marketing elements chose to keep post boosting in-house. Perhaps this speaks to the holistic approach of boosting “good” content. When marketers see something going well, they know it, and want to support it with ad spend immediately. Did you know there’s a tool that does this for you?

What Do You Think?

What do you think about the State of Social Marketing 2014? Does this reflect your own social marketing practices? Let us know here in the comments, on Twitter, or Facebook. We’d love to hear your feedback.

Stay involved in the ever-changing conversation around social media and join us at Engage London 2014. A social media event for marketers, by marketers. Speakers include Beth Foster, Social Strategist at Google, and Robertjan Groenveld, Social Media Hub Manager at KLM. Early bird registration ends March 31st. We hope to see you there!

Who Did We Ask? We surveyed over 500 marketing professionals for a number of industries including Education (13%), E-commerce (9%), Software (9%), Travel (9%), Nonprofit (9%), and Retail (7%). Because social media marketing is not exclusive to large companies, like many above the line communications are, we asked start-ups and fortune 500 companies a­like.

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  • Rahul Surkund

    Great outlook on Twitter, I agree. As Twitter expands their advertising platform and targeting capabilities, more and more brands will find a solid business case for advertising there. Let's see what their next move is.

  • Carly Guglielmelli

    With the slated death of sponsored stories on April 9th and the implied launch of more native advertising, it will be fun to watch how brands adapt to new types of Facebook ads. We'll continue to measure, survey, and report everything social. It's really great to have a follow up conversation with the Socialbakers audience. Thank you Dino King.

  • Avtar Ram Singh

    Oh right - must have missed that. Then we're definitely on the same page. If marketers can't figure out what the difference between "Mobile" newsfeed and "Desktop" newsfeed is - that's definitely a calamity. IT 101 I guess - but makes me feel better about myself. ;)

    Thanks for taking out the time to respond! :) Great report, big fan of SocialBakers.

    And yes - many are jealous of the title. Few are worthy. I kid, I kid.

  • Carly Guglielmelli

    Hi Supreme Commander of The Allied Forces at World Domination (jealous of the title),

    Great outlook on Twitter, I agree. As Twitter expands their advertising platform and targeting capabilities, more and more brands will find a solid business case for advertising there. Let's see what their next move is.

    In regards to your first point, I claim that it's *not* shocking that News Feed ads are the most effective placement. So we're 100% on the same page there. What I found most interesting in the data is that marketers don't seem to distinguish between different News Feed placements such as Mobile News Feed vs Desktop News Feed. There's a lot of potential waiting to be unlocked in dedicated mobile News Feed ads. Do you agree?

    Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  • Avtar Ram Singh

    Quick notes:

    1. Why do you think it's shocking that marketers think newsfeed ads are actually their preferred mode of operation? It's one of the best ways to grab someone's attention - most people barely look at the right hand side ads but will definitely look at what's in their newsfeed.

    2. Twitter hasn't taken off because of the markets that you can target. At present, you can only target US, Canada, Ireland and the UK. Markets in other regions of Europe, South America and of course - Asia, are MASSIVELY growing and there's a TON of people looking to advertise there, but you can't use Twitter ads to target those markets - hence, the low uptake of Twitter ads.

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