We’re all familiar with the phrase “it takes money to make money,” yet many business owners and marketing professionals often find themselves hesitant to invest in social media advertising efforts out of fear that they will not see a return on their investment. No one doubts the prevalence of social media in the United States. A Pew Research Center study found that 68% of American adults are Facebook users; among 18 to 24-year-olds, 78% use Instagram and 45% are on Twitter; and among Americans 65 and older, 37% are social media users. However, many businesses are still skeptical about their ability to convert social media traffic into customers or whether paid advertising will generate leads. Here are some reasons ad expenditures on social media can make sense for your business. 

Organic vs. Paid Social Media Outreach 

Organic social media reach is often better aimed at building relationships with existing clients and customers rather than gaining new ones. It is important to have an ongoing, robust presence on social media where you engage your existing customers, employees, and partners.  But gaining new followers solely through organic growth is often a slow process. It is important for businesses to include both in their marketing efforts, but they aren’t interchangeable. 

Organic social media is best used for maintaining an online presence, building a community, long-term brand building, and establishing credibility. Paid social media, on the other hand, is better for expanding your audience and converting prospects.  

Why Social Media Advertising Makes Sense for Small Business 

Paid social media advertising is attractive to the small business owner in permitting you to target very specific demographic groups. Many social media platforms also offer internal analytics tools so you can measure your efforts, make changes, and improve the performance of your social media ads as needed. 

Social media advertising can be particularly effective for small businesses. Here’s why:

  1. Social media advertising drives targeted traffic. Paid advertising on social media gives you control over who sees your ads, and each platform offers an array of targeting parameters you can modify. Aside from setting basic user demographics like age, gender, and location, you can choose from factors such as interests, hobbies, personality types, and more. Because a small business can target specific locations, local businesses can reach potential targets without wasting advertising dollars on prospects who are not in their geographic area.  In addition, many social media networks, including Facebook, are most often accessed by the mobile device, allowing for targeting prospects by their real-time location, a practice known as geotargeting.
  2. Social media advertising can be tweaked to fit smaller marketing budgets. Social media advertising utilizes the pay-per-click (PPC) model, which means you only pay if users complete the action you want them to. This makes social media advertising highly cost-effective. When creating your advertising budget, you can start small and invest where you are seeing results. After a few ad cycles, refine your ads to drive better results and ROI. Rates across social media tend to be fairly low. Facebook, in particular, offers low rates for its ads across a wide range of industries.  In addition to converting prospects who are aware of your business into potential buyers, social media campaigns can help you build awareness of your company amongst social media users who fit your target demographic profile.
  3. Social media advertising helps make the most of your content marketing. Social media is one of the best ways to distribute your brand’s content. In addition to well-targeted content encouraging leads down your sales funnel, ads for your content will help you drive web traffic and increase social media engagement.  Advertising may stimulate others to link to your article, resulting in improved organic search results for your site.
  4. Social media advertising boosts brand awareness and helps develop relationships with your audience. If your business regularly appears in news feeds, people can start to recognize your brand.  If you’re a local business, this can have a useful impact on potential clients who may be more apt to notice your business if they are passing by. 


Small businesses should see the non-paid posting and paid advertising on social media as methods for accomplishing different kinds of marketing goals.  The former solidifies commitment and interest in your brand, while the latter grows your following and raises brand awareness. Social media advertising is thus an important aspect of using social media, one that can’t be duplicated by simple organic posting. If you’re worried about finding the time to appropriately manage your social media advertising efforts, get a marketing professional to do it for you. Oftentimes, hiring a marketing strategist or social media marketer is also one of the best investments any company—large or small—can make.