Where Does PR Stand on Paid Social Media? Survey Shows Ambivalence About Spending

With Facebook leading the pack, social media channels are fast moving to a pay-for-play model. Yet nearly half of communicators surveyed by PR News are foregoing purchasing Facebook’s paid media offers.

The PR News survey found 49 percent of communicators bypassing Facebook ads as part of their communications programs. That finding is in stark contrast to the 94 percent of respondents who said they use Facebook for general communications. The survey queried 232 PR and marketing executives.

Of the 51 percent of respondents who said they buy Facebook ads, 90 percent said they were either “somewhat satisfied” or “satisfied” with the ads; 10 percent said they were “not satisfied.”

Dave Prodan, VP of communications at the World Surf League, is among the PR pros satisfied with paid social media. The League started running paid ads on Facebook in early 2014 and has been growing its overall media spending budget on paid social media.

“The ad buy happens around our live events, and then we can generate content plays around the ad,” he said. “There are a lot of ways to stretch your dollar on social platforms. Access to your audience has never been easier and paid media on social is one of the best ways to reach it, for sure.”

Nonprofits also are delving into paid social media. Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy started budgeting for Facebook ads in 2013, and now devotes about 20 percent of its overall media spending to such ads, said Veda Banerjee, director of communications and digital marketing. “Facebook ads help drive traffic to your various events,” she said. For instance, 70 percent of those attending a recent event promoting the nonprofit’s younger membership learned about the event via Facebook ads. To convince C-suite managers to fund social media advertising, “keep the senior team abreast of shifts in how people are getting information,” Banerjee said. “Putting in a little budget to social ads can actually show results.”

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CONTACT: Veda Banerjee, vbanerjee@parksconservancy.org; Dave Prodan, dprodan@worldsurfleague.com

This article originally appeared in the August 3, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.