@DigitaLori, the CEO of a KBS+ (an ad agency in midtown), recently conducted an informal experiment with Twitter Promoted Accounts. Lori Senecal set out to understand the difference between social media connections that were “bought” through paid social media placements versus those “earned” through traditional social media relationship building techniques. In the end, she decides earned is better than paid. I slightly disagree with her findings, but this provides a good starting point for debating best practices for developing and curating a digital audience.
Ms. Senecal launched a paid promotional account campaign for her Twitter profile over a three day period. After the first day of the experiment she paid $75 to Twitter Promoted Accounts, earned more than 100 new followers, and confirmed the theory that you can buy, authentic, relevant social media audience members for a price – Twitters algorithm for matching her with relevant users was working nicely. However, Lori felt paying for popularity felt weird, inauthentic, and made her uncomfortable, since she was essentially trading money for users to join her audience. By the end of the experiment, she made 45K new impressions, obtained a follow rate of .48%, and acquired 217 new followers in total.
In Lori’s words, she found engaging with her social media audience to be similar to maintaining face to face, interpersonal relationships, “what you get out of it is directly proportionate to what you put into it – quality, content, and conversation – consideration of your partners interests – honesty and respect”. She found paid placement to be an efficient method to gain short term exposure, create an immediate spike in reach, but for long term growth it requires hard work, understanding one’s audience, and effectively creating and sharing content.
I don’t think we can simply say paid social media placement versus old fashioned organic audience growth is simply good or bad, I think a better approach is blend both techniques or decide on a strategy based on specific goals related to characteristics of the person, thing or idea being promoted. I think Lori’s analysis is mostly accurate, but to some extent creates a false dichotomy between organic and paid audience development. When social media managers debate the pros and cons of paid versus organic growth they don’t simply need to choose one strategy, I believe they may strike a balance between both depending on the variables involved with the object or idea being promoted.
Questions to the class:
Do you agree more with my statement above – striking a balance between organic and paid growth is a good approach depending on the variables involved? Or do you agree more with Lori Senecal, organic, meaningful audience growth trumps paid growth? Or something else?
In what ways would the promoted object or person in question influence your decision to use organic social media growth and, or paid placements?