We all want our tweets and Facebook posts to go viral organically, by the sheer power of their brilliance. But sometimes, your social content may just need a little nudge to give it the exposure it deserves. So are sponsored tweets and posts (in which you pay to promote your social media posts to people outside your network) the solution?

Anecdotally marketers report mixed results using sponsored tweets and Facebook posts (or native social ads), and many advertisers seem to worry about annoying users by filling up their social feeds with advertising messages. However, I have found that native social advertising can be a fantastic way of reaching out to new audiences, and in my experience it delivers much higher levels of engagement than traditional display advertising.

Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite has written a handy blog in HBR with some useful tips for any of you thinking about taking the plunge into native social ads. Here are the top three recommendations he makes:

  1.  Test your tweets for free! Before sponsoring tweets, test them using your regular channels for free. See which ones are performing best and select them to be sponsored.
  2. Use targeting. Native social ads can be highly targeted, due to the vast amount of data these sites have about their users. So use this functionality to really hone in on your core target audience and deliver them relevant, engaging messaging.
  3. Rotate your ads regularly. Since you are going to be targeting people’s news feeds where they expect to be informed and entertained, keep your ads fresh, don’t bore people!

To this I would also add that a sponsored tweet is not a display ad. You don’t have to use it for a purely commercial message. Use it to share a great piece of content and draw people into your brand.

In conclusion then, native social advertising can be a fantastic way to reach out to new clients or customers and connect with them. Test everything, target everything and keep everything fresh to ensure success.