Facebought: A Look at the Rise of Paid Social Media Advertising

By: Courtney Smith

To state the obvious, social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram depend on it’s users, on how many people log in and interact with the site. The more people logged in, the more there are to interact with. Without users, the platform perishes or at least downsizes as we all saw when the world made a shift from MySpace to Facebook.

One way social media platforms have remained so popular: they’re free! This thought has never really occurred to me until I read it in a Forbes article. I signed up for my first social account over 10 years ago in 2006 when all of my other middle school friends were online swapping Photobucket gifs. Like most of those other early MySpace users, I have since kept a seamless active social media presence on one site or another. Therefore, the concept of ever paying for one has never been so much as a daydream.


Today, however, it almost seems bizarre that businesses especially can sign up for Facebook and reach thousands if not millions of people for free!

(Image: MGD Advertising)

But bizarre is exactly what it is, because if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that it isn’t true. According to Forbes, Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandburg, is an advertising guru which means she knew those profits in free sign-ups would come from advertising.

While Facebook and other social media platforms are beneficial for engagement and Search Engine Optimization, the focus has greatly shifted to concentrating on a business’s paid advertisements. From the promoted posts in the middle of my feed to a stream of advertisements on the right side of my page, it seems that I’m attacked with ads from the moment I log on to the moment I log off. Since Yahoo! bought Tumblr in 2o13, there are promoted ads on that site as well; the same applies to Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Algorithms changes on Facebook are even making those organic conversations and engagement irrelevant in maximizing reach. According to Facebook Business, since competition on News Feed was so high the social media giant made it to where organic distribution would be far less viewable on a consumer’s feed. In essence, if you don’t pay to boost your post no one is going to see it.

So does that make Facebook more of an advertising platform or a social media platform in regards to businesses? The constant evolution of the site will tell.

376457-625x325(Image: BizCommunity)






Published by

UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism