Facebook: Brands get five times more reach with paid media

Another day, and another look at the real effectiveness of social media. Today ComScore and Facebook have their turn at answering these questions in research that makes that case for what paid media can deliver over earned media.

It is an effort after all of the controversy from the likes of  General Motors, and other brands who are shying away from paying for advertising instead to focus on content, to focus the debate on earned media.

But as marketers ask themselves the question if earned media alone is enough the answer, backed by research, is that Facebook ads can not only deliver, but that they can deliver a lot more.

Obviously the research support’s Facebook’s sales pitch: ads on Facebook work. Shocker. So a pinch of cynicism might be necessary here. However, this survey and others like it do often throw up the odd interesting morsel that shows the direction in which social media and digital marketing is going, and this report is no different.

Facebook Studio selected the top 100 brand Pages on Facebook, based on a large fan base and high levels of organic reach, or the number of people that like the Page and their friends in human, and tried to find out whether organic (posts on the page) or paid content (ads) delivers the best result.

The survey found that Pages using paid media on average reached over fives times more people than those who did not.  While the principle will come as little surprise to those who have run campaigns on Facebook, it is quite clear that well targeted ads can go far on the network, it is interesting to have a substantive comparison. Increasing your reach by five times is not to be sniffed at either.

Overall paid and organic audiences have similar age distributions,  but“ads are slightly more likely to reach less active Facebook users”. Organic media reaches slightly more people who use Facebook more intensively.

A closer case study of Samsung Mobile, a major financial services company, and a major retailer, revealed that using paid for media gave them five times greater reach than organic content in one week.

Indeed, paid media was able to extend the reach of a single piece of content by more than 100%, and increase “the average lifetime reach of all page posts in a week by between two and 24 times.”  Again, numbers no brand can ignore. Clever organic content can get you noticed online, but putting some money behind a piece of content significantly increases its potential reach.

Most importantly, the audience that was reached by the paid content also show a great than the Internet average shopping and buying behavior, so the investment does have a return. The report says:

“This data suggests that audiences reached by paid media on Facebook represent a valuable potential set of customers for individual brands. “

You can read the full report here.