If you don’t know the difference between social media marketing and social media advertising, it’s okay to admit it. The distinction can be a bit confusing, especially if you’re new to the social media world or to digital marketing—especially since they’re sometimes used (carelessly) as interchangeable. There is a difference between social media marketing vs. social media advertising, and it pays to know that difference and to incorporate both into your overarching digital strategy.  

What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is a crucial facet of any digital marketing strategy today. It encompasses your business’s online profiles on social media platforms, along with the social media activity of those platforms: posting, liking, commenting, sharing, and so on.

 

Social media marketing begins with creating company pages or profiles on relevant social networks. The networks that you choose will depend on your industry; B2Bs will likely find LinkedIn to be the most relevant network, since they’re marketing to other business professionals, while home builders and developers might make use of platforms like Pinterest, Houzz, and Instagram to show off images of their homes and properties.

 

But it doesn’t end with just a page or profile. To effectively market using social media, interaction and engagement are key. Click To TweetYou need to interact with others on the platform by liking, commenting, and sharing their content, as well as by posting and sharing your own content. This will drive engagement, which is when others interact with your content—liking, commenting, sharing, and clicking.  

 

What kind of content should you share and post? 

 

Again, this depends on the platform and your industry. Industrial manufacturers may not have much luck posting photos of their products on Instagram. (Are the insides of factories usually very aesthetically pleasing? No.) But, they’ll have more success posting content about their processes, sharing their blog content, sharing relevant articles and news from industry publications, and posting infographics on LinkedIn. 

 

Always be aware of the platform and its conventions when posting social content. 

 

Twitter is great for sharing links, but because tweets are limited to 280 characters, it’s not the place for longform content. 

 

Instagram is designed for sharing images, and while you can use an image to promote a piece of content, you can’t link from a post directly. You have to include the link in your bio, which might not be the most effective way to direct people to that link. 

Why Do Social Media Marketing?

One of the major principles of inbound marketing is bringing your ideal customers to you. Since your ideal customers are using social media—everyone is—having a social media presence is a necessity if you want to draw in potential customers. 

 

Social media helps create a community around your company, one that can result in sales.

 

Creating a community through social media marketing has some major benefits, like building brand awareness and helping to establish your industry reputation as an authority in your field. Also, it can establish your company as enjoyable to interact with, which can result in people converting to customers when they do need your company’s products or services.  

What is Social Media Advertising?

Social media advertising (also known as paid social) involves running paid ads on various social media channels, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc. These can include banner ads as well as native ads and activities like boosting posts or like campaigns. Social media ads are often charged on a pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-impression basis. 

 

You can use paid social to promote content, like a whitepaper or guide that your company or marketing agency has created. You can develop an ad around this content you’re offering, or boost the posts where you shared the content offer. This increases the reach of your content, which can lead to more website traffic and conversions of visitors to leads. 

Why do Paid Social?

Targeting

 

Promotional posts on social media don’t have a ton of reach on their own and aren’t likely to get a lot of organic engagement. Paid social allows you to specifically target audiences. This targeting is no joke, either. Depending on the platform, you can target audiences by criteria such as location, age, gender, search history, interests and activities, device use, even things like employer or job title. 

 

Since you’re paying either by the number of clicks or impressions (views) your ad gets, you want to ensure that you’re getting the most for your social media ad budget. You do this through targeting, which ensures that only the most relevant people (aka, your ideal customers) see your ads. This makes paid social a high-ROI advertising strategy. 

 

Additionally, the analytics that social media advertising platforms provide you can help better understand your audience and fine-tune your advertisements for better reach, engagement, and ROI.

Social Media Marketing vs. Social Media Advertising

Essentially, advertising is a form of marketing that uses advertisements, which are paid notices that appear on public platforms. Not all marketing is advertising, but all advertising is marketing. 

 

When we talk about social media marketing vs. social media advertising, however, we’re generally making a distinction between paid and unpaid methods of marketing using social media. Social media advertising refers to the paid methods (like PPC ads) and social media marketing the unpaid methods (like your social media posts and shares). Click To Tweet

Which is Better? Social Media Marketing or Social Media Advertising?

If you’ve read this far, you probably already know what we’re going to say: you need both. 

 

  • Social media marketing helps you build a community and foster relationships with current and potential customers—it’s a long game. 
  • Social media advertising puts your name/products/services/links in front of people who are looking for what you offer right now

 

Both of these strategies can generate leads and sales, and they aren’t mutually exclusive. Using social media for both its organic (unpaid) and paid methods of reaching your intended audience is simply the most effective use of the vast power of social media. 

Marketing vs. advertising: that is the question. Click To TweetHowever, when you use both, you can optimize your results for the best possible outcome. Not sure you have the team to handle both advertising and marketing? Get in touch with HA Digital Marketing. We specialize in both inbound and outbound marketing and would love to help. 

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