Paid social content has changed substantially in 2012, with Facebook, Twitter and others finding new ways to present ads to users without disrupting their experiences on the site. Twitter rolled out Promoted Tweets, which insert ads into activity streams much like normal Tweets, differentiated only by text indicating they’re ads. As a result of this move, Twitter has seen a massive increase in ad revenue, which eMarketer said will reach $288.3 million by the end of the year, compared to the $139.5 million last year.
While these improvements are important for Twitter, growth presumably fueled by natural-looking ad spots also demonstrate the value of creating organic social media marketing content that can be promoted rather than paying for display ads that most users ignore. In general, the move illustrates a change in web marketing, as most forms of marketing become about offering the best user experience. Whether it’s on Google search or a social network, content that attracts a user organically is most likely to draw clicks.
Facebook’s use of Sponsored Stories speaks to this shift as well, as marketers can pay to promote an article or other piece of social content. This builds on content-driven social campaigns to ensure the content receives a specific number of views from brands’ fans, ensuring that the audience is relevant and more likely to convert.
Following the rollout of Sponsored Stories, Brafton highlighted a report from Marin Software that found click-through rates for its clients increased 20 percent when they implemented Sponsored Stories. Among the greatest benefits of this nexus of paid and organic content is its location, as users see it on their news or activity feeds instead of parts of the page they are unlikely to pay attention to.