In the pioneering days of social media, businesses saw huge leaps in growth by following a regular posting schedule. In retrospect, it was unbelievably easy -- brands simply posted organic content on their Facebook pages and their followers responded. The number of likes, comments, and shares garnered per post were the best measure of success and the easiest way to interact with an existing customer base while still reaching new clients. In the decade since Facebook opened to the public, the digital landscape has dramatically changed.
A user’s feed is now supersaturated with content from clickbait publishers, prompting social media giants such as Facebook to alter their own internal algorithms to boost authentic posts from user’s friends and family while limiting posts from business pages. As it stands, an organic Facebook post published on your business page will only be seen by 2% of your followers, and that percentage is sure to decrease in the coming months. In fact, Facebook has warned Pages that they can expect organic reach to eventually arrive at zero. This means that there is virtually no return correlated with posting organically, and business pages must embrace a new social media strategy or face guaranteed obsoletion.
Organic reach in decline
Posts are getting less engagement as content volume increases & platform functionality evolves.
In light of these changes, it is more important than ever to utilize Paid Social to promote your message to your audience. Hundreds of universities like yours are adding social media advertising as a channel within their communications strategy as a way to increase reach. Whether you are considering investing in Paid Social for alumni engagement and fundraising, or have already started exploring the world of digital advertising but are looking to increase performance, let's look at some best practices to make sure you are getting the best possible return on your investment.
Defining Paid Social
What actually is paid social? Paid Social is the formal phrase referring to social media marketing supported by an advertising budget, and is a way of displaying your institution’s content to targeted, relevant users natively on their social media feed. Paid Social differs from Organic Social, which is the typical “un-boosted” style of posting for users and brands. The big benefit to Paid Social is its ability to hyper-target your ad campaigns to the users who will relate to them the most. Rather than just posting content on your page that won’t be seen by the majority of your followers, a Paid Social ad campaign is directly shown to your preferred target audience - whether that’s specific alumni you’d like to engage, or users with relevant interests who love your institution’s football team. Since only your targeted market will see your content, you are able to focus your messaging and see the greatest return on your investment.
Why are universities increasingly opting for paid social marketing?
The advertising game has changed. Direct mailers are often tossed in the recycling, most email servers push promotional messaging into a separate mailbox, and more and more people are “cutting the cord” by getting rid of cable television, eliminating the need for traditional commercial advertisements. The popularity of social media, however, shows no signs of slowing down. 81% of the total US population has an active social media presence, and most users are active on multiple platforms. As of 2017, internet users worldwide spent an average of 135 minutes per day on social media and messaging apps, a 50% increase from just five years ago.
Daily time spent on social networking by internet users worldwide from 2012 to 2016, in minutes
With these statistics in mind, it would be a missed opportunity for a university not to embrace social media as a primary tool for reaching alumni, current students, and potential donors. Paid Social is the only advertising channel that has the potential to reach your market at any hour of the day, every day, right where they’re already spending much of their time. Other brands are already targeting your audience for their own messaging, so why not take advantage of this channel to reach the people who already have affinities for your institution?
Mastering the content of Paid Social ads
There are many different uses for Paid Social that directly benefit University Advancement offices and can greatly impact fundraising efforts. Some examples include:
Campaigns to promote attendance at class reunions, homecomings, and alumni relations events
Campaigns to advertise fundraising drives and other key touchpoints, from Giving Days to online giving forms
Campaigns that increase awareness of important University news and updates
Social media strategy shouldn’t be thought of as “one size fits all”. Optimizing your campaign towards specific key performance indicators, such as high-scale reach or tangible e-commerce conversions, guarantees that the metrics that matter most to you are featured as your campaign goals. Businesses with the greatest success maintain an authentic brand presence on social platforms, all while mastering an important part of communicating with their audience: They consistently implement in-feed advertisements that inspire personalized two-way conversations, adapting to their users’ real-world interests.
In order to maximize your social media investment, you should be mindful about driving your targeted audience simply to an external website, where you lose the ability to engage the constituent directly. You can make your annual advancement budget work harder, however, by strategically combining Paid Social Advertising and Facebook Messenger Chatbots.
Essentially you can turn your alumni into reachable subscribers by running social ads, driving directly to pre-built Facebook Messenger conversations. Once your alumni subscribe to your Messenger experience, you are able to send high-scaled messages with an 80% open rate, without needing additional advertising budget.
Funderful’s Paid Social and chatbot service is an excellent way to continue the conversation your ad campaign has started, with the added benefit of increasing campaign cost efficiencies by turning an audience into a subscriber database. Integrating chatbots into your advancement communication strategy allows for a mutually beneficial experience between an institution and their alumni, where all parties are able to shape the conversation based on their personal interests.
Social ads driving your alumni directly to pre-built Facebook Messenger conversations
Putting it all together
Upgrading your social media communications strategy with the integration of Paid Social is an excellent way to boost alumni relations and advertise fundraising efforts, but creating an effective advertising campaign and tracking its progress is often daunting for universities. Learn how Funderful can help you maximize your reach with Paid Social ads by clicking here>