Why Social Media is ‘Pay to Play’ in 2021 (And How to Get the Best Bang for Your Buck)

It’s hard to believe now, but only a decade ago, the internet was awash with articles questioning how Facebook makes money.

No one’s asking that anymore. 

Today, we understand advertising is the lifeblood of all the big social networks. Paid social media has become a key component of many brands’ marketing strategies. The more people these platforms have access to, the more money they make from businesses selling those people their products. 

Just look at Facebook’s audience growth since late 2008. Despite a couple of small blips, it’s all up and to the right:

Paid social media - Facebook user growth

The net result? The platform’s annual revenues have climbed at an even sharper rate, with the vast majority of that money coming from ads:

Paid social media - Facebook revenue growth

This has had inevitable consequences for marketers. As social networks focus more and more on increasing ad revenues, it’s become ever harder to grow an audience organically. 

Facebook gets the most criticism for this, but it’s the same with Instagram, LinkedIn,…

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