The Stats That Show Social Media Advertising Has Gone Mainstream

November 20, 2016

It’s clear that Internet users are on social networks; Pew Research Center estimates that 75 percent of all Internet users engage with at least one social network. 

And because advertising dollars naturally follow where the people are, advertising spending on social media networks continues to skyrocket. Between 2015 and 2021, United States social ad spending will essentially triple, growing from $10.2 billion to $30.1 billion, according to a Forrester Research forecast.

The mainstream acceptance of social media advertising as a marketing tactic is already here. A recent survey by Regalix (and curated by eMarketer) discovered that 67 percent of B2B marketers are using social media advertising. A study by Magisto found that small- and medium-sized businesses rely heavily on social media advertising for brand awareness and to drive revenue. In fact, 44 percent of SMBs use social ads for brand awareness and 41 percent use it to drive revenue. In both cases, social ads were used more commonly than the next most common tactic (print advertising) by about 4x.

Not only are businesses using social media advertising; the tactic is working for them. An Altimeter report found that 80 percent of North American brands agree or strongly agree that social media advertising is cost effective and provides ROI with 63 percent of brands in Europe feeling the same way.

Almost three-fifths of B2B brands using social media advertising said LinkedIn (58 percent) and Facebook (58 percent) were tied at the top in delivering the best ROI. These platforms were followed by Twitter (39 percent) and YouTube (14 percent).

Why are social media ads effective? The data they have on their audience and the subsequent ability to target are key reasons for their success. “The true value of social advertising is the wealth of personal data available on social platforms, which allows advertisers to infuse ads with the context needed to target and personalize ads that resonate with individual buyers,” Altimeter’s Ed Terpening and Aubrey Littleton wrote in their firm’s report, “The 2016 State of Social Business.”

The pair also identified the capability to A/B test quickly and efficiently as a crucial reason behind social advertising’s delivery of ROI. “Social advertising proved much nimbler than traditional web advertising, granting advertisers the ability to test, learn, iterate, and innovate quickly — alongside fast-changing platforms,” they wrote.

A recent example of a successful social media advertising program contributing to unexpected success is the Trump campaign. No matter your politics, there’s a lesson on the efficacy of A/B testing on Facebook and other social media platforms that is outlined in this Wired article — which reported that the Trump campaign was testing 175,000 variants of ads (automatically altering the color, the size, the call-to-action, the headline, the visuals) and eventually using the ones that delivered the highest ROI. And perhaps the Oval Office.

For more insight into how to get the most out of your social media advertising on LinkedIn, download “Laser Focus: 10 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Sponsored Content,” a guide that shows how top-performing brands are finding new audiences and driving better-than-ever results.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash and NASA.