Social media isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have so, in this post we are going to look at social media marketing vs social media advertising.
Given the current circumstances of COVID-19, social distancing means social media is crucial to staying social, staying connected, and staying sane. And, increasingly, even staying in business. But this begs the question (or handful of questions really):
- Do you really know what you’re doing in terms of social media marketing vs social media advertising?
(If your answer isn’t an immediate, emphatic ‘Yes’, why not revisit our handy Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Social Media Following. No shame!)
- Do you currently have a Social Media Marketing (SMM) plan?
- Do you even know what SMM is?
- How about Social Media Advertising (SMA)? Do you know what that is? And are you using it to harness the full power of social media?
Social media marketing vs social media advertising vs social media management. Yes, it’s a world gone social mad, but the fact remains: when used to its full potential, in all its various guises, it can be a powerful tool to help us stay connected – with our friends, families, community, and with our customers. Dang: done right, it can even turn our customers into friends and family, essentially creating a community around your company, your extended company family, and that can result in sales.Who better than friends and family to support your business, right?
For this to happen, though, you need to know what all these various guises are, and how to use them, when and where. Read on for our guide to just that, and discover the difference between social media marketing vs social media advertising and when, where, and why to use each.
Social Media: The Big Picture
Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful strategies driving sales and ongoing customer loyalty. In the 21st century, word of mouth takes the shape of social media. As globally recognized brand and social media strategist Lori Ruff once said: “Social media is here. It’s not going away; not a passing fad. Be where your customers are: in social media.”
In other words: it is here to stay. Social media is where your customers are looking for you. It is where your customers are talking about you – or, worse, not talking about you. All of which makes social media an essential piece of your business marketing strategy.
Social platforms, carefully chosen to match your needs, brand and target market, can:
➪ Help you reach and connect with your customers
➪ Increase brand awareness, and, ultimately
➪ And boost your leads and sales
How does it do all this? Enter SMM, SMA, and SMIGFORYB. (Just kidding: that last one is just a bunch of random letters, but it certainly sounds intriguing.)
Unpaid vs Paid: Social Media Marketing vs Social Media Advertising
What is Social Media Marketing (SMM)?
The short answer
Social media marketing is any action you take on social media that is unpaid. (Note the emphasis on unpaid. Pay attention. That’s the important bit.)
The long(er) answer
Also sometimes referred to as ‘organic’ social media, this applies to your everyday existence on social media, encompassing:
- Creating your business’s online profiles on any social media platforms you’ve chosen to live on, thereby establishing a social media presence in a world where a social media presence is akin to a beating heart (if a business doesn’t exist on social media, does it even exist?);
- Publishing great, valuable, relevant content on said platforms;
- Creating and managing a Facebook Group
- Posting on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram etc – for example, posting about a blog or sharing other information with your followers;
- Liking, commenting on, or sharing the posts of others;
- Commenting in social media groups;
- Following and engaging with others in any way, shape or form; and, importantly,
- Analyzing your results from your social media activity.
All of this falls under the umbrella of social media marketing. (Also, in a bit of a zippy twist, SMM can also encompass SMA – at least in terms of the planning thereof, and strategizing how it fits into your overall social media editorial plan and calendar. And remember: while not all marketing is advertising, all advertising is marketing. But more about that later.)
All of this works to create your social media community, building brand awareness, establishing you and your business as a trusted, engaged, legitimate authority in your particular field or industry, and, if you are authentic and transparent in all your content, showing your company as an engaged, enjoyable entity to interact with. And why is this necessary? Because it works to drive website traffic and, ultimately, increase sales. (Which, let’s be honest, is your endgame here, is it not?)
What is Social Media Advertising (SMA)?
The short answer
Social media advertising is any action you take on social media that is paid.
The long(er) answer
Also known as ‘paid social’, social media advertising (which is often charged on a pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-impression basis) includes things like:
- Running specially created, paid ad campaigns on social media platforms like Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / LinkedIn etc (also sometimes referred to as ‘native’ ads)
- Banner ads
- ‘Boosted’ posts
- A ‘Like’ campaign etc.
Essentially an extension of social media marketing, SMA is really just an extra tool in your social media toolbox to help you better reach your customers, spread brand awareness and, ultimately, sell your products/services. It is the expensive child to SMM’s hardworking volunteer parent; it is paid content which should be incorporated into your social media content calendar as part of your overall SMM strategy.
Why use paid social, though, when you can use organic social for free? Just like everything in life, sometimes you get what you pay for. In other words, use of paid social media tools to advertise your business, with their enhanced powers for very specific targeting, messaging, and reach, can really give your business a big branding awareness boost. It doesn’t rely on mercurial SEO algorithms to organically – magically? – find your potential customers like social media marketing does … it’s a sure thing. You say who, you say where, you say when.
So… SMM or SMA? …or Both?
Round about now you’re probably wondering which is better: SMM or SMA. Should you spend your time, and money, on social media marketing or social media advertising?
Well, in the words of top marketing speaker and best-selling author David Meerman Scott, “You can buy attention (advertising). You can beg for attention from the media (PR). You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.”
In other words, social media marketing wins the day… or does it?
While we never want to pay for things we can get for free, the advantages of SMA over SMM may just be worth the price:
➪ By paying for specific targeting and reach of your ideal audience, you are getting your products/services/content in front of the right customers, at the right time, in the right place. (Remember: you say who, you say where, you say when.) Its benefits are immediate and often reveal themselves in instant sales and clicks. To keep that ball rolling, though, you need… you guessed it…
➪ Social media marketing.
SMM is the long game to SMA’s right here, right now approach. It helps you build your community and foster long-term relationships with current and potential customers, for long term gain in terms of sales and sustained traffic.
So, to recap:
SMA is perfect for:
- When you are just starting out, in business, online, or on social media, to create immediate brand awareness;
- To drive instant traffic to your website for the purposes of launching a new product/service for example;
- Targeting a specific audience segment for a specialized product specific to their needs (you can target audiences by criteria such as location, age, gender, search history, interests, activities, device use, and more);
- Getting eyes, and sales/clicks, on a limited time offer.
- SMA does, however, require an investment and its instant gratification approach is less likely to garner you long-term loyalty.
Meanwhile, SMM is great for:
- Ongoing and broader brand awareness;
- Sustained traffic;
- Cementing your business as an authority/trusted source in your field/industry; and
- Relationship building, which will lead to…
- Long term
- sales, and
- Plus, it’s free. The only cost being the time you (or your trusted social media staffer) invest(s) in promoting your brand with authentic content that shows your true belief in, and passion for, your business. (Which shouldn’t be too hard, given said passion for and belief in said brand.)
Still need a definitive answer to the whole social media marketing vs social media advertising question? Sorry, not sorry, but our answer is BOTH.
If you can afford it, you should incorporate both into your social media strategy. (Yeah, bet you saw that one coming a mile off.)
Caveat: regardless of whether you choose to use only SMM or include SMA in your overall social media strategy, you need to track the success of both. After all, what’s the point of either time and/or money spent if you’re just throwing content into the abyss with nothing to show for it? More on how to know if your social media efforts are working, and the best metrics to use to measure social media success in an upcoming blog… Watch this space.
Social Media Management – aka SMM 2.0
Finally, don’t get confused between SMM – Social Media Marketing, and SMM 2.0 – Social Media Management…
Social media management encompasses managing all your social media activities – paid (SMA) or unpaid (SMM). It also encompasses your overarching philosophy and approach to your social media strategy. Which, in the wise words of motivational business growth expert and author of Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth Jay Baer, should be:
“Focus on how to be social, not on how to do social.”
Regardless of whether you apply it to paid social media advertising or organic social media marketing efforts, it’s a simple formula for social success… if only you can manage to stick to it.
Get a Stellar Social Media Strategy
Need help fine tuning your own social media strategy, building the ultimate social media marketing plan that incorporates social media advertising dollars wisely spent? 1st on the List can help: call 1-888-262-6687 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.