Social media has been touted as a way to level the playing field between small and large marketers. After all, the only cost socialnetworkassociated with the format is the staff time needed to generate content and monitor comments from consumers. New research shows that marketers could be missing out on social media’s effectiveness if they don’t pay for ads.

Kenshoo Social, along with Forrester Consulting, has found that most marketers are promoting on the following types of social properties:

  •  Social networks 87%
  • Microblogs 67%
  • Business-focused social 51%
  • None 6%

Most of the social promotions are not paid. 73% of businesses create branded pages, 40% create branded tabs, and 34% maintain company pages on business-focused social sites. About 56% of enterprises have bought ads on social networks, 51% pay to promote content on networks, and 37% pay to promote content on microblogs. On the business-focused social networks, about 24% pay for ads.

The Kenshoo study also found that brands are experiencing a better outcome when they pay to promote their content. Paying to get content distributed helps advertisers create awareness, attract new fans and followers, and increase purchases.

Advertisers say they are having better results when they pay for response-focused campaigns as well. According to the study, advertisers feel “freer to use strong calls-to-actions in social ads than in posts.” In other words, they realize that blatant promotions in the traditional social conversation turns off consumers. The top goals and outcomes from the paid response-based campaigns include driving purchases, attracting new fans and followers, and increasing loyalty of existing customers.

Success of social media campaign advertising is also higher when marketers increase the focus of their targets. Most use demographic or geographic information. But analysts say that better outcomes can be achieved if they also target friends of fans or try to reach many, smaller specific audiences with their messages.

Do you agree?

[Source: The Key to Successful Social Advertising. Kenshoosocial.com. May 2013. Web. 4 Jun. 2013]