Social media advertising: Is that dollar actually well spent?

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

You might care about this article if you are:

  • a Chief Marketing officer
  • a Social Media Marketer
  • a Digital Paid Media Specialist


Every once in a while I run ads on social media. To send people to my speaking page, to share articles to a wider audience and more. Today, 30,000-plus people read articles on here each month. The year-to-date growth compared to last year is just awesome:
month over month growth

A 700 percent increase in the number of visitors. That’s January-April 24, 2017, compared to the same time period last year. Wow. The audience is growing. I blog while riding bikes at the gym, on airplanes and at 4 a.m. Whenever I can make it work. Certainly, it takes time, but there’s no cost associated with my personal blogging time, other than that I have to make the time to blog. Of course, when I blog while riding a stationary bike, I’m actually multitasking. Yes, those are still good workouts.

But it’s different when I run ads. Ads cost money and I often see them as a short-term investment. Blog posts on here keep drawing traffic as long as the topic is of interest to people and people keep searching for the topic. Over 70 percent of traffic on here comes from search engines. The other day I saw an article that wasn’t doing much when it first published, but now has gotten 5,000 views in just a couple of months. All of a sudden people were looking for the information in it.

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Also when I run ads, I want to see immediate return. Did me spending this money actually make me money? Sometimes it does through brand recognition but that’s hard to measure. Brand awareness works (which is why we drink Coke or Pepsi, for example!) but it’s hard to directly give it credit for the sale.

I know this and yet I turn into the impatient CMO-type in those instances! Is it working? It’s like I’m yelling at myself. I’m ready to put myself on a performance improvement plan if I can’t prove ROI NOW! But there are really only two promotion strategies to build a brand:

  • Paid strategies
  • Organic strategies

Paid is ads, social media promotions and even offline strategies (like billboards and TV). These cost money but they can grow our brand quicker. The more smart money we spend, the quicker it grows.

Organic – really anything not paid – takes time. I’ve built this blog in my sleep – or during the lack thereof. It’s taken years. I’m not even close to being done yet. But we are getting there. But it’s also taken years of:

  • Relentlessly trying new things
  • Adjusting ongoing strategies
  • Updating my strategies and refining stories
  • Updating my blog designs to grow audiences
  • Writing books
  • Speaking at conferences

I have all the time in the world, I guess. But seriously, building brands – or more importantly relevance – takes time. And it never ends. We can accelerate it some with strategic ad buys. And really tying organic and paid strategies together impacts change the quickest.

No matter the strategy, though, we need to create value for our audiences. Then distribute the heck out of that value. That’s how we can grow!

Why did I share this story?

I do hear a lot of impatience with digital marketing out there. And then when people don’t try, they declare that the strategy didn’t work. Me being so impatient with paid strategies really opened my eyes to the perceived and real impatience of CMOs. We need results now, but the only way to get them now is to defer now to later. I feel the need to get results and it’s real, but hopefully this reminds us leaders – CMOs and CMO bosses – that overnight success takes longer than overnight.