Social media was created for personal use comprising of a virtual extension of your social circle, connecting with new friends and re-connecting with old ones in a single platform. It has brought about a totally new world to users: the digital world.
The tremendous growth of social media has challenged marketers all over the world to begin developing strategies for targeting users in the online world. Gradually, more companies are trying to learn about customer behaviour on social media so as to target them.
In this context, there have emerged two activities: social media marketing and social media advertising.
Social media marketing refers to any social media activity you undertake that is unpaid. In case you are posting about your blogs, commenting on social media groups or sharing information with followers, you are indulging in marketing.
In contrast, social media advertising is action taken on social media which are paid for. From Like campaigns, to full-on ads to boosted posts, you have to pay up for social media advertising.
Social Media Marketing
This is a crucial element of any digital marketing strategy currently. It covers online profiles of your business on platforms of social media as well as activities on such platforms like tweeting, posting, sharing, commenting, liking etc.
Social media marketing agency starts its strategy by creating company profiles or pages on relevant social networks. The choice of networks will be based on your industry. For instance, B2B’s will consider LinkedIn to be the best platform for marketing. Homebuilders and architects will prefer Instagram and Pinterest.
But marketing does not end by creating social media profiles; other key factors are engagement and interaction. You must interact with potential customers and other users by commenting, liking and sharing their content as well as sharing and posting your own content.
The question is- what kind of content should you post or share? This depends on your industry and platform. For instance, industries will not benefit from clicking pictures of their factory interiors. They will have better results by sharing blog content created by them, sharing relevant articles and industry news etc.
Why marketing through social media? One leading principle of inbound marketing is to bring you your ideal customers. Since the latter are active on social media, you must also have a social media presence. The platform of social media helps create a community around your company leading to more sales. The community helps build brand awareness and establish your company as an industry leader.
Social Media Advertising
This strategy involves running of paid ads on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. This comprises of both native ads and banner ads and activities such as Like campaigns. Social media ads are charged on a cost-per-impression basis and PPC (Pay Per Click). Social media advertising agencies focus on targeting a relevant niche of customers.
Paid social ads permit you to sell to specific target audiences. Based on the platform, customers can be targeted through criteria like job title, gender, age, location, search history, activities & interests etc. Since you are paying on the basis of a number of clicks, you will want to ensure the visibility of the ad to the most relevant people. This makes paid social ads a source of high ROI. Also, analytics through such ads help you fine-tune your advertising strategy.
In sum, a good strategy for a company would be to exploit both marketing and advertising through social media.