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Social Media Marketing vs. Social Media Advertising: 2022 Edition

Social media marketing and social media advertising can sound the same, especially to those getting started. This happens because the two phrases are at times used interchangeably. But to make your marketing strategy more effective, it’s important to know the difference.

Why you should know the difference between social media marketing and social media advertising.

The confusion between social media marketing and social media advertising arises because those new to social media or digital marketing might believe that handling a business’s marketing strategy is pretty much the same as managing one’s personal social media strategy. But the two require different kinds of tactics, content strategies, and analytics. 

Understanding the differences between the two will help you devise the right tactic to deliver your objectives, whether it’s to generate more traffic or increase customer acquisition. That will help you optimize your resource allocation and save time, money, and effort in digital marketing. It will also help you understand whether organic marketing or paid advertising will work for your business and which one you should go for.

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing refers to your business’s presence and activity across social media platforms. These include building a credible business profile, posting, commenting, sharing, and liking on these platforms. In essence, you’re using organic social media to promote your business and reach out to and engage with your followers. 

The process starts with identifying which platforms you need your presence in. You don’t have to be everywhere. But you should know where your prospective customers or clients are and then build your online presence there. For example, if you’re into B2B, you’ll likely have to be on LinkedIn. 

After that, build a profile or business page with your contact information, working hours, link to your website, and any additional details. Then, develop a content strategy and calendar. You can scan your competitors’ social media pages and analyze what kind of content they post and what gets the most engagement from their audiences. 

With your schedule, you can start posting content on your platforms. Remember that social media platforms reward consistency. Make sure that you have a media mix including images, videos, and infographics. Engage with your followers, reply to their queries, and participate in discussions to bring your brand to the forefront. 

The biggest advantage of social media marketing is that it’s free. Even if you have no digital marketing budget, you can get started. Be mindful that organic social media marketing will take time and effort to produce results, especially if you’re planning on doing it on your own.

If you decide to opt for social media marketing, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:

  • Know your brand. Understand your brand character, tone, and manner before you start posting. Everything you share should be in sync with those. 
  • Understand your audience. What’s their location, age group, education, etc.? What problem are you solving for them? What solutions have they tried before? 
  • Build authority. Share content through articles, blog posts, videos, and ebooks that establish your expertise on your subject. This is also how you can build an email list. 
  • Be patient. Even when you consistently post and engage with your audience, it will take months for you to gain traction. 

But if you don’t want to wait around to build brand awareness and increase the number of followers, you can opt to go for social media advertising.

What is social media advertising?

Social media advertising is any paid advertising that you do for your business on a social media platform. You’ve seen ads for brands on your News Feed that appear along with posts from friends and family. With social media advertising, your ad will also appear on the feeds of your target audience. 

A social media ad can appear in a variety of forms. It’s usually a video or photo on Instagram. Facebook offers multiple options for businesses to interact with their audiences. The two most common types of social media advertising include standalone ads and the ability to boost organic content. 

With standalone ads, you create a specific ad and choose the target audience criteria. The platform will then share your ad with your audience. Through analytics, you’ll also know the number of people who would have seen your ad. You can have a call to action in the ad, whether it’s to encourage people to visit your website or sign up for your email list.

Social media platforms also allow you to increase the visibility of your content. If you have a particular post that you believe your target audience would be interested in, you can boost its reach. You can also do this for your business page. 

So, why should you invest in social media advertising? The biggest reason is that you can create brand awareness in a short span. You don’t have to wait for months for your social media page to get noticed. Secondly, if you’re launching a product or have a specific offer, social ads will give you that added reach.

Social media marketing vs. social media advertising: Which one should you choose? 

It isn’t an either/or situation. Both are extremely important for any business that wants to succeed in 2022. Social media marketing allows you to organically build an online presence and attract followers over a longer horizon. 

But social media advertising will give you the boost when you require it. When you’re launching a product or if you have a discounted offer, it’s the best way to reach your prospective customers. It will also help you effectively compete in the digital marketplace.