Social Media Marketing vs. Social Media Advertising

Up until now, you might’ve thought social media marketing and social media advertising were one and the same. The distinction between the two can be confusing, especially if you aren’t familiar with social media and digital marketing.

We’ll break down the differences between social media marketing and social media advertising so you can see how both can be used to achieve your digital marketing goals.

First: What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing consists of any social media actions you take that are unpaid. Whenever you make an original post, share updates with your followers, post about blogs, post pictures and videos, or comment on social media platforms, that’s marketing.

Social media marketing is pivotal to any digital marketing strategy today. Everything from the social platforms you use to your presence and activity on those platforms – including posting, commenting, sharing, liking, and so on – encompasses social media marketing.

How Do You Use Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing always starts with creating company profiles on relevant social platforms. You’ll choose platforms that best suit your industry. For example, home builders and other contractors might use platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to show off pictures of their work. Whereas B2Bs might find LinkedIn more relevant since they’re marketing to other business professionals. No matter your industry or niche, you’ll be able to find a social platform(s) that makes the most sense for your business.

The next step to social media marketing is using your social media effectively. This means focusing on interaction and engagement by posting and sharing original content while also commenting on, liking, and sharing others’ content. These actions are what drive engagement by encouraging others to interact with your content by commenting, sharing, liking, and clicking.

What Should You Post?

The best type of content to post depends on your industry and the platform you’re posting on. For example, where a restaurant or coffee shop would benefit from sharing pictures on Instagram, an industrial manufacturer would not. If you think about it, most people aren’t interested in seeing the inside of an industrial factory. In this case, posting content on Facebook, sharing blog posts and other relevant articles from their industry, or posting infographics on LinkedIn would make more sense.

Social Media Platforms for Social Media Marketing

There are many platforms to choose from for social media marketing, and each one offers something unique that businesses can take advantage of. Some of the more popular ones include:

Facebook – Interaction and engagement with personalized content tend to perform best on Facebook. You’ll want to focus on things like user-generated content, industry-related news, sharing blog posts and articles, videos, etc.

Twitter – With a 280-character limit, Twitter isn’t the best option for long-form content – but it’s great for sharing links and quick updates.

Instagram – This platform is solely designed for sharing images. While you can use images to promote content, you can’t directly link from posts. Instead, you have to share the link in the post’s description or your bio.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is where blog posts typically perform the best. Also, LinkedIn business page statuses can be up to 700 characters long, so you can easily post original content directly on your page.

Why Take Advantage of Social Media Marketing?

One key principle of inbound marketing is helping potential customers find your company. Since most of your ideal customers are using social media, it only makes sense for your business to have a strong social media presence. That way, you can draw potential customers in and get them to interact with your content.

Additionally, social media is a great way to create a community around your business. This helps to build brand awareness and establish your business as an authority within your industry.

Next: What is Social Media Advertising?

Social media advertising consists of running paid ads on social channels – it doesn’t involve any unpaid, organic posts or actions. Paid social ads can include banner ads (image-based ads) or native ads (text-based ads) and other actions like boosting posts or like campaigns. Social media ads are typically charged on a pay-per-impression (PPI) basis.

How Do You Use Social Media Advertising?

Paid social is often used to promote content or an offer your company has created. You can develop an ad around what your company is currently offering or boost the posts that include original content. Paid ads increase how far your content reaches, which can lead to more website traffic and conversions.

What Should You Post or Share?

There’s plenty of content to choose from when it comes to promoting something using social media ads. You could promote general information about your brand, consultation services, a how-to guide, and so much more. Before promoting anything, be sure to have a clearly defined goal, eye-catching visuals, a call to action, and a link to your website or a relevant landing page.

Social Media Platforms for Social Media Advertising

Similar to marketing, each social media platform uses advertising in a unique way.

Facebook – Facebook ads play a huge role in your overall digital marketing strategy by increasing brand awareness, attracting leads, and leading to more conversions. With Facebook ads, you create an ad objective, set your target audience and budget, and then monitor your ad’s performance.

A digital marketing agency can work with you on deciding your ad objectives, target audience, and budget, and then monitor ad performance for you.

Twitter – With Twitter, you can use promoted ads, follower ads, and trend takeover. Combining effective ad formats and targeting tools, you’ll be able to build brand awareness and drive conversions.

Instagram – Only business profiles are able to advertise on Instagram as opposed to personal accounts. Instagram ads use the same targeting algorithms as Facebook since the two are connected. These algorithms are probably the most elaborate targeting tools available in advertising today.

LinkedIn – Using LinkedIn ads, you’ll be able to attract more followers by getting updates in front of more people. You can build ad campaigns around specific goals and work through all the stages of the sales process, from awareness to conversion.

Why Take Advantage of Social Media Advertising?

Regular, unpaid posts on social media don’t have the same reach as paid posts and are less likely to get organic engagement. Plus, paid social allows you to target a specific audience. Depending on which platform you use, you can target audiences by location, gender, age, search history, interests, device use, and even occupation.

With pay-per-impression ads, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your social media ad budget. In order to do this, you’ll want to focus on targeting – ensuring that only your ideal customers see your ads. You don’t want to waste impressions on people who are the least likely to become paying customers. In this case, having high-quality leads is more important than having more people looking at your content. This is what makes paid social a high-ROI advertising strategy.

One more thing – social media analytics can help you better understand your audience so that you can fine-tune your ads for improved reach, engagement, and ROI.

Social Media Marketing vs. Social Media Advertising

When talking about social media marketing vs. social media advertising, the distinction is made between paid and unpaid methods of marketing using social media.

Social media marketing refers to all unpaid actions (like original posts, comments, and shares), and social media advertising refers to paid actions (like PPC ads).

Remember it this way: not all marketing is advertising but all advertising is marketing. Advertising is a form of marketing.

Which is Better?

Well, at this point, you can probably guess what the answer is: both social media marketing and social media advertising are needed. The two don’t really compete with each other. Both strategies can generate leads and sales, and both will get you the most out of your overall social media marketing strategy.

Social media marketing helps create community and foster relationships with current and potential customers. You’re in it for the long game.

Social media advertising helps you put your name, products, services, and links in front of people who are actually looking for what you offer right now.

Need Help With Your Social Media Marketing Strategy?

Using both social media advertising and marketing will help you achieve the best possible outcome. Not sure you have the team to handle both? That’s what we’re here for! An experienced digital marketing agency, like WebLocal, can help you take advantage of all the power social media has to offer. We know all the best marketing channels and strategies to utilize for your brand. Let us go to work for you – get in touch with us today!