Social Marketers: Give Away Your Ad Budget

Social marketers have worked for years to justify ad budgets—and that effort is finally paying off. But if you’re a social marketer, and you want your social advertising to succeed, you’d be better off giving that money to your media buying team instead.

We recently surveyed 173 of the most avid social marketers in the world and found that the large majority are buying ads on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. More than two-thirds said they would increase their social ad budget this year. And in most cases, they told us the social team or social agency was responsible for this social ad spending.

But it turns out social teams aren’t very good at spending social ad dollars. Sure, social practitioners claim they’re as good as media buyers at getting value from Facebook ads — a claim few can back up — but even the social marketers themselves they admit to lagging far behind their media-buying peers on other sites.

When social teams run the social ad budget, just 59% of marketers say they get value from Twitter ads; when media teams are in charge, Twitter delivers results 79% of the time. Likewise, social teams only get value from YouTube ads 64% of the time; media teams find success on YouTube 80% of the time.

Media Teams Spend Social Ad Budgets More Effectively

So what should you do with your social ad budget? Take a lesson from some of the most successful social advertisers and give almost all of your social ad dollars to the media team, rather than to the social team:

  • Top commerce site Choxi blends social, search, and display ad buying. Choxi is one of the biggest online retailers in the world, and Facebook cites them as one of their savviest advertisers. And Choxi lets media buyers, not social marketers, handle the social ad budget. In fact, Choxi has a single team in charge of all its Facebook, Google, and display ad spending—meaning the brand can optimize its entire media spend across channels.
  • InterContinental Hotels Group gives the vast majority of its social budget to media buyers. Leading hotelier IHG puts almost all of its social ad dollars into an integrated campaign planning process. It holds back a small portion of its social ad budget (the exact percentage varies by brand) so that the social marketing team can boost posts when it needs to get a message through to all a brand’s fans.

For more data and insight on this topic, Forrester clients can read the research brief I published with Richard Joyce, “It’s Time To Separate ‘Social’ From ‘Media’.”