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  • Social Ads vs. Social Media Marketing: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to social media, there’s a big difference between managing your personal social media presence and managing your business’s social media presence. For one, there are a lot more options available for businesses to take advantage of when it comes to social media.

Two of those options include social media marketing and social ads. So, what are these two options, and are they actually different? Or is this another PPC vs. SEM vs. search marketing situation?

Let me walk you through the difference between the two approaches and then let’s chat about why you need them both to generate the greatest impact with your marketing efforts.

What are Social Ads?

Social advertising includes any paid advertising efforts that you undertake on a social network. We’ve all seen social ads as we scroll through our News Feeds. These are paid posts from brands that blend in seamlessly with the content our friends and family are posting.

These ads can come in a number of forms. On Instagram, they’re typically a still photo or a video. On Facebook, marketers have a wide variety of Facebook advertising types to choose from, all of which are designed to achieve different marketing goals.

Beyond the ability to create standalone ads, social platforms also provide businesses with the option to boost their organic content. If you create a post on your business page on either Facebook or Instagram, you’ll be given the option to promote the content, which means that, for a small fee, the social network will help you broaden the reach of your existing piece of content.

What Is Social Media Marketing?

Given all the pieces at play in social advertising, what’s left to be considered with social media marketing? Social media marketing, sometimes called organic social media, includes all of your efforts to promote your business via social media that you do via the free tools embedded in the platform.

The cornerstone of social media marketing is establishing a business page on the relevant social sites. Claiming your business on Facebook and Instagram and setting up official pages not only gives your fans a place to find relevant information for your business (including your website, hours, and contact information) but also allows you access to analytics and information about traffic to your page that you wouldn’t see on a personal account.

The great thing about social media marketing is that it is free if you do it yourself, so even if you have no advertising budget at present, there are ways for you to take advantage of social media. Create a content calendar and begin posting regularly to the channel. Engage with any followers who like or comment on your content. Join discussions on other relevant pages, groups, or threads to bring new attention to your brand. It is a labor of love in that it can be time-consuming to triage what you’re posting and the comments, reviews, and more that your audience is posting to your page. So, there’s always the option to partner with a digital marketing company to help you with this.

Social Ads vs. Social Media Marketing: Which Should I Choose?

Social advertising and social media marketing are not an either/or proposition. A strong social media strategy will include paid and unpaid components. This makes sense, as the two methods serve different purposes.

Social advertising helps you to reach a much larger audience quickly. Social platforms allow you to identify the appropriate audience for your advertising, and you can select people based on certain demographics (location, age, gender, income) or upload a list of your existing customers, so the platform can create a lookalike audience and market to those who are most similar to your current customer base.

Social media marketing, on the other hand, is great for nurturing your existing relationships. By continually posting meaningful content, you become the go-to resource for your fans who have questions about issues or trends in your field, you build trust over time, and you remain top-of-mind with followers. Plus, when your existing followers share your content, you can tap into their networks and expand your reach slowly but surely.

It’s also important to couple social media marketing with social ads because you want to be responding to and engaging with any new audience members who see your ad on their social sites. If you’re spending the money to drive awareness and engagement, it’s a must that you’re not letting your ads sit there with no responses.

Whether through paid efforts or organic outreach, social media remains an incredible resource for getting seen by consumers. A blend of social advertising and social media marketing is the key to keeping existing customers happy and expanding your network to engage new, relevant audiences.

If you’re looking for support in managing your social advertising or social media marketing, reach out to learn more about what we can do for you.

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