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Paid Content

Paid content is one of the rising trends when it comes to expanding the reach of brands. 39% of small businesses have used paid content on Facebook to attract likes for their page or traffic to their site. 70% of these businesses have stated they would invest again.

Paid content can reach potentially hundreds or even thousands of members of your target audience. The effectiveness of the paid content however is very dependent on how you use the system at hand.

Read this article to discover how to use paid content to gain exposure for your brand.


What Is Paid Content?

Paid content does not specifically refer to the content but rather the space and position it occupies. Google Adsense is one of the most common versions of paid content and is otherwise known as a Pay-Per-Click model. However, Google is not the only option available for businesses.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all offer their own versions of pay-per-click advertising that can be posted directly to targeted audiences.

Usually the paid content is positioned on the audience’s social feed so that it is at, or very close to, the top. The content is also highlighted so that it stands out from standard updates.

The cost of paid content can be based on a per-click method or per one thousand impressions. Depending on how successful your campaign is, the latter could be more cost-effective.

There are also websites offering to publish blog posts and distribute them to their mailing lists for a set price.


Is Paid Content Worth The Expense?

No doubt about it: paid content can be expensive. While businesses don’t generally tend to release exactly how much campaigns have cost them, customers who have used the process have indicated the approximate costs.

One customer who released a sponsored tweet about losing his luggage with British Airways told reporters his placement cost between $3000 and $4000. This sponsored tweet certainly got a huge response, with thousands of retweets and comments.

Many business owners feel that social networks can be costly and some have pulled out of using Facebook ads and featured stories. However, since additional controls were built into the advertising system, some of these companies have returned to Facebook.

If you want to invest in paid content you do need to consider these controls. The right filtering can help to deliver your content to target audiences, while the wrong controls can drive considerable cost and earn you very little in market penetration.


Why Do You Need Controls?

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) conducted an experiment using Facebook to get insights into the effectiveness of paid content. They set up a fake company advertising the sale and delivery of bagels through the Internet.

They set up two campaigns to advertise the company and see whether or not Facebook adverts could be effective.

In the first campaign no controls were used. During the test, they received several thousand likes within a matter of hours. When reviewing the likes they noticed the majority came from Africa and Asia. They also noticed many of the likes were from fake accounts. The BBC provided an example with a profile in the name of Christina Rolando. The profile was nothing more than pictures of the famous football player. The profile had also liked thousands of other Facebook pages.

In the other campaign they restricted their audience to those who liked food, lived in the UK and USA and spoke English as their first language. The difference was extraordinary. The cost of the campaign was much reduced and only a couple of dozen likes were accumulated. None of these profiles could be suspected as being fake.

The lessons from the experiment were clear: place strong controls on your paid content campaigns to control exactly who sees your paid content. This way you can ensure those who interact with your brand are valuable contacts.

In terms of publishing blog content to premium sites, there is more ambiguity. There are limited controls you can place in the process and you have no idea who has signed up for their list. In this scenario you need to sign up to the list yourself and see what content is being delivered to you. If you see a consistent pattern of people posting content, contact them and see what their experiences have been.

However, be sure that the content being delivered is:

  • Not a direct competitor to your business.
  • Not in a completely different industry to your business.

Either of these two options will reduce the effectiveness of your campaign.


What Controls Can Be Added To Paid Content?

There are many controls you can add into your campaigns to ensure that the content reaches your target audience. Here is a list of demographics to use:

Location – You can usually limit the exposure of your paid content down to a very specific area within a country. If you are a local business, the more specific the area the better the results you will obtain.

Gender – Many networks will give you the option to display your paid content to just males or females. This can be particularly useful around the certain holiday seasons (such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc) as you can create several specific adverts targeting typical buyers of certain gifts (e.g. married men and perfumes may be ideal for Valentine’s Day).

Age – This can be a very important demographic for your business. Normally you can separate audiences into different age brackets and target only those that are relevant.

Interests – Facebook is especially good at limiting the exposure of your paid content based on a number of interests / likes the user may have. This is an important control and using the right interests can mean you have a much higher uptake of your paid content.

Connections – Some social media networks allow you to limit the reach by the connections users have already established. This is very good if you have a certain competitor in the market or a shared interest with your customers.



Paid content is an effective marketing option to expand the reach of your brand. However, for the most return to be made you need to ensure your paid content has specific controls in place to prevent fake accounts from increasing the costs. Use clear demographics to ensure your business is making the best return on its paid content campaigns.


Action Steps:

  • Create some paid content copy advertising a blog post or landing page.
  • Create a paid content campaign on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn using strong controls.
  • Check the results for the campaign.

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