All too often, my team and I find our prospects are confused about the role that social media plays in their marketing efforts. Some treat it as a broadcasting or advertising outlet to announce their services, products, or special deals. Some think of it as something they are obligated to “just do,” without any clue of how to tie it to their overall marketing efforts. And then there are folks who would like to embrace its potential but are uncertain how to make it work for them in a meaningful way.
I strive to help our potential customers and existing clients understand that social media has multiple roles, and they can use it in different ways to achieve different — but related — objectives. In this post, I will delve into that by focusing on the distinction between paid advertising and building an organic social media presence.
Social Media’s Two Key Functions
The way I see it, social media has two areas of discipline:
- Community building – Engaging and interacting with followers organically on social media to build relationships
- Advertising – Promoting products and services through paid ads to make sales
A Look At Both Disciplines in Action
Here are examples of how community building and advertising on social media have influenced my decisions and behavior.
A Win for Community Building
Years ago, someone recommended a book to me. It took me some time to finally pick up and read it, but when I did, I read it cover to cover. Then, I reread it. I was so inspired by it that I followed the author on Instagram. On that platform, he occasionally shares breakout quotes from his book, which are great reminders of the takeaways from his work. Earlier this year, he started to share some of the passages from his new book. I was intrigued by those posts, which led me to purchase his new book last month.
A Win for Facebook Advertising
Last month, I caught a glimpse of a video in my Facebook feed featuring a woman using some sort of exercise equipment to enhance her squats. It captured my attention because I struggle with having a heavy bar rest on my shoulders while I squat, and I find it difficult to target more than just my quads when performing squats. So naturally, I was drawn in by the ad and went to the company’s website to learn more about the product. It was gratifying to see that the business selling the equipment was transparent about the cost.
Which Approach Will Work Best for Your Business?
As you can see, both advertising and community building can yield results. Which option you should choose depends on your business model, goals, existing marketing efforts, and company values.
Here’s a handy reference that may help you as you determine what’s best for your business.
How #Strella Social Media Can Help
We help our clients strategize on the most effective use of social media to meet their goals. Although we specialize in community building, which we believe is the cornerstone of building a brand, we recommend paid advertising when it will complement and strengthen community building.
For example, if an organization is just starting out on social media, it’s helpful to utilize ads to jump-start efforts and increase brand awareness. Also, boosting posts by paying to promote them can help offset dwindling organic reach caused by social media algorithms. And when a business’s customers are in the consideration phase of buying a product or service, they probably aren’t looking at organic social media posts as they make their decisions. Rather, they are looking at company websites and doing Google searches...so, advertising via retargeting might be an effective option for driving the purchase home.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for you and every other business. It requires a sound strategy tailored to your business’s needs, customers, and goals to move the needle. If you need help determining what an ideal strategy looks like for your company, we would love to discuss how we can help you overcome that challenge. Reach out and let’s talk!
Your turn! Community building or advertising...or both? Please share about how your business is using social media and the challenges and successes you’ve experienced.