Social media and using it to accomplish marketing objectives is a necessity. And today’s savvy organizations know that paid social media is becoming an ever-increasing, critical part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Done correctly, paid social is your business’s most promising option in drawing a new audience. The key is to understand the various options and plan your strategy accordingly.

What is paid social? Simply put, as opposed to free tools – a Facebook or Pinterest page, a Twitter account or a YouTube channel, for example – paid social uses sponsored content or advertising to boost your website presence in third party feeds and pages. By choosing the specific audience you want to reach using a range of demographic tools, paid social gets your message into the hands of your customers or potential customers effectively and efficiently.

Your marketing dollars need to be used wisely. It’s never a good idea to put all those dollars into one marketing bucket. As the number of platforms where you “need to be seen” grows, paid social is another tool to use in tandem with existing digital marketing efforts.

But why add another cost to your marketing budget when there are so many free options out there? Simply put, having Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and online display ads is only part of the answer today. Let’s look at a few of the reasons why paid social needs to be a new and growing digital marketing strategy for your company.

Targeting Customers

Paid social advertising lets you identify specific audience segments (gender, region, age, preferences, and other demographics) and craft messages that relate to that market slice. The variables offered are different depending on the platform being used. At LinkedIn, for example, you can customize your target audience by identifying the industry, job title, company, or total employees. Take advantage of the demographics of various social media platforms. LinkedIn is popular among millennials, for example, and Facebook is geared towards an older generation.