Best Practices to Optimize Paid Social Strategy

Jennifer Meech
February 11, 2020
Last Updated On
June 8, 2023

Paid social media can help brands increase traffic and reach niche audiences — and strong visual content is an essential part of any brand’s paid strategy. 

With over 269.68 billion dollars in average ad spend on mobile and desktop each year, brands need engaging, striking visuals to attract users and cut through the noise.  

Make every visual that you put in front of your audience count — whether it be across paid or organic marketing channels.

Why Paid Social Is Important

Effective visuals power marketing campaigns, boost engagement and according to Nielsen, are responsible for 56% of a brand’s sales from digital marketing. With the rise of visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, it’s no surprise that paid social advertising has become essential to any brand’s advertising strategy. Paid social channels equip brands with the tools to increase brand exposure and generate real ROI from social media.

What is Paid Social?

Paid social is used to describe paid advertisements, sponsored posts and other types of paid efforts marketers make on social. This doesn’t just mean advertisements — paid social does include display advertisements on channels like YouTube, but also includes boosted posts or sponsored content from influencers and brand ambassadors

Paid vs. Organic Social Media: What's the Difference?

The biggest difference between paid and organic social media is the cost — while organic social media incurs costs like staffing, design and software, marketers don’t pay for the posts themselves. With paid social, brands must determine a budget for sponsored posts and new ads, negotiate fees and contracts for brand ambassadors and disclose that their content is an ad. A robust social strategy will use both paid and organic social posts. 

Online users are more likely to respond to striking visuals — what’s more, 73% of worldwide content marketing promotion happens on organic social media, while 51% of all content marketers use paid social to promote their content. We know that entertaining, visual content is a must on social

Using visuals to market your brand isn’t a new concept. Think commercials, billboards, and old school print ads. The main point of differentiation between social media advertising and traditional tactics is that selecting imagery for paid social isn’t a one-and-done type of deal. Marketers have long believed in the “Rule of Seven” which says that consumers need to hear or see an advertisement seven times before they will take action. Social media advertising makes it easier to put this concept into action and enables brands to have multiple touchpoints with the same audience. While visual platforms make it easier for brands to engage your target audience, today’s digital consumers have high expectations of the brands they interact with. 

Rising Above the Noise

With social media becoming increasingly saturated, users don’t want to see the same imagery seven times—they expect personalization. This means that brands need a constant flow of visuals to test, optimize, and keep your target audience engaged. The imagery that marketers select for paid social ads is crucial to your campaigns’ results. Advertisers often launch campaigns blindly, testing every photo from their last photoshoot to see what sticks. Not only are advertising teams wasting time and money with this approach, but they are also sacrificing the results of their campaigns when it comes time to report on ROI. 

To drive paid ad performance, brands must leverage organic photo and video performance as your north star to fuel your visual selection for paid channels. Equipping your advertising team with data empowers you to deliver visuals that truly resonate with your audience and maximize ROI across paid channels.

How to Integrate Paid Social Into Organic Strategy

Our brains only need 1/10 of a second to understand an image, and visuals are responsible for nearly half of your advertising sales. To maximize ROI across your paid channels, it’s critical to get your visuals right every time. Leading brands constantly innovate and test paid content —which requires an abundance of photos and videos waiting in your content library

So how does paid social work? Now more than ever, brands must bridge the gap between organic and paid content strategies to establish one source of truth. Organic social teams are often the gatekeepers to the visuals and the data that advertisers need to inform visual selection for paid ads. Your top-performing organic photos and videos will translate into high-performing paid social ads. These visuals resonate the most with your unique audience, which likely looks like your target audience for paid social. This means that there needs to be an ongoing feedback loop between departments to ensure that paid teams have the data-driven insights you need to maximize the dollars you’re spending. 

With Dash Hudson, you can align your organic and paid strategies by housing your visuals in one place. Our visual intelligence technology, Vision is integrated into our Library, making it a hub for data-driven insights on every owned and earned photo. Vision learns with your brand in real-time so you always have a pulse on what types of photos are driving engagement, your audience’s visual sentiment of your brand, and how your competitors are investing in their content strategy. Leveraging Vision’s insights empowers you to increase return on ad spend (ROAS) by optimizing photo performance and predicting what visuals will inspire audience action before distributing.

Use Dash Hudson for Content that Converts

Carefully curated visuals will stop your audience mid-scroll and compel them to click-through. To rise above the noise and drive growth and performance across your organic and paid channels, content analysis is a must. 

Segmenting owned, earned, and paid photos and videos, understanding their impact, and tracking the performance of each of your content pillars in real time is the most effective way to build your paid social strategy. 

Dash Hudson’s Content Segmentation tools lets you organize content, while Social Analytics and Monitoring tool lets your team easily discover the impact of your creative on your overall goals. For even more impactful visual content, tap into Vision, Dash Hudson’s AI-Powered tool that predicts which content from your library will perform the best. Plus, you can take data analysis even further with Competitive Insights that let you see how you compare to competitors.  

The more you curate content with your unique audience's tastes in mind, the more successful your paid social efforts will be—and the ROI of your campaigns.


What's the difference between paid and organic reach?

The difference between paid and organic reach lies in the way it’s achieved. Paid social posts — particularly boosted posts — are often done with specific reach in mind. Channels like Instagram let you boost a post and adjust your spend to reach more (or less) users, but this also depends on your goal. They offer three goals for brands to focus their boosted posts on — more profile visits, website visits and messages. TikTok ad campaigns offer a whopping seven type of advertisements for brands. These include in-feed ads, brand takeover, sponsored influencer posts, UGC-centric ads, image and spark ads — for TikTok, UGC campaigns are a great way to increase paid reach, which will hopefully turn to engaged followers over time.  

What's the difference between organic and paid campaigns? 

While there are differences between organic and paid campaigns, there are many similarities — many paid ads on social let brands boost their organic content that already performs well, so there’s an overlap between organic and paid strategies. However, brands can look at KPIs from their advertisements like website traffic, conversions and more to refine their next paid ad or their overall strategy. While this is an essential part of a paid or organic strategy, brands will glean different insights from their paid advertisements based on their goals and ad performance.      

Are paid ads worth it? 

Yes, generally speaking paid social ads are worth it. They generally come at a low cost to brands (especially when compared to traditional advertisements like billboards or commercials) and let your brand reach new (and existing) users that fit your demographic. Brands can also A/B test different types of ad performance to gauge what type of paid content impacts their goals most. 

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