Social Media Marketing versus Paid Social Advertising

March 2016

Social Media Marketing versus Paid Social Advertising

You often hear the terms “social media marketing” and “social media advertising” used interchangeably, but the truth is that they’re very different. Both of these techniques can provide you with growth and profitability, but you must know the difference if you’re to use them effectively.

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing, or SMM, refers to unpaid advertising. When you share a post on Facebook, tweet something on Twitter, or post new content on G+, you’re engaging in SMM. Other activities that fall under this heading include:
  • Commenting on the posts of others
  • Replying to comments on your posts
  • Sharing posts from other people
  • Manually following new accounts/users
The most important thing to remember is that the actions don’t come at a cost. They might cost you time, or require you to pay an employee to do them, but the actions themselves are free. In comparison to social media advertising, SMM offers slower growth. However, it’s longer lasting growth because you develop actual relationships with your fans or followers.

Social Media Advertising

Social media advertising, or SMA, is a different beast. We’ll use Facebook as our example, but all major social networks have some sort of advertising capabilities today. SMA is not much different from running a PPC campaign with Google AdWords. You have to create a landing page for the campaign, target specific keywords, determine your ideal audience, craft compelling copy, and create an image to use on the network. The most important thing to understand is that it’s not free – you pay. You can choose your budget and determine how those funds will be used, but it does come at a cost.
The determining factors on whether or not those costs are worth it in the end come down to how well you did your job before starting the campaign. For instance, if you choose the wrong target audience, your results will be subpar and your money wasted. If you choose the wrong budget, you’ll also encounter serious problems. If the ad copy isn’t compelling, or if the image isn’t evocative, you’ll find that your return isn’t what it could be.
Social media advertising can also offer very fast returns if everything’s done correctly. However, because of the costs involved, it cannot be the mainstay of your marketing efforts. In addition, it’s still “advertising”, which means it’s a one-way street. You cannot build a thriving online business with that in this day and age. You need to develop relationships with your fans, followers and customers. If you’re unable to do that, no amount of money can save you.
Perhaps the most important advice is this: Use both tools to your advantage, but put more focus on organic interaction and growth through social media marketing. Paid social network advertising has its place, and it can be an invaluable tool, but it is only one of many that should be in your toolkit. By combining organic marketing with paid advertising, you’re able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

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