Why Your Social Media Strategy is Not Working
According to a number of well-placed social media experts, one of the biggest reasons why entrepreneurs and major companies fail in their attempts to effectively use social media is that they don’t understand the difference between marketing and advertising. To be fair, in some cases this lack of results with social media can be attributable to the fact that companies simply don’t acknowledge the difference between the two, even if they do understand the differences.
Before delving into a discussion of why this matters so much, it would be helpful to define the two terms. Social media advertising refers to the purchase of any kind of display ads that are targeted for specific social media platforms. By contrast, social media marketing encompasses any and all of those activities which tend to promote awareness of a company’s brand, for instance generating content, engaging with platform users, and responding to comments about posts.
Why is the difference so important?
It is absolutely essential for a business entrepreneur to understand the difference between advertising and marketing in regards to social media and to acknowledge it by treating each one differently. One of the biggest reasons for failure of social media marketing and advertising is that too many individuals treat all social media updates as though they are ads, meaning that they pretty much treat them all as sales pitches.
It simply does not work to bombard your target audience with a never-ending series of recommendations to buy whatever you’re selling, especially when you haven’t previously established a relationship of trust in your brand. Before you ever pitch a product to followers on the social media, you should engage in the subtle form of marketing activities that seek to make connections with your target audience in positive ways.
It is an outright mistake to consider every post you make on the social media as a promotion for your products or services. In fact, this approach will very likely end up alienating much of your potential audience instead of encouraging them to buy whatever it is you’re selling. A much better approach would be to provide value in some way to your followers, in the form of information, advice, helpful tips, and even entertainment.
Establish a trust relationship with followers
Users on social media develop sales resistance, just like people in brick-and-mortar retail stores would to the pitch of a high-pressure sales person – it simply turns them off. By creating trust and value in a relationship with your followers, you have a much better chance of getting a sales message across when the time comes. When you do get around to using social media ads, your message will probably be much better received because you have used marketing strategies to build up your relationship with your potential customers beforehand.
To sum up, here’s the practical difference between social media advertising and social media marketing: marketing should be thought of as all those activities which attempt to provide your followers with value in the hope that they will, at some point, reciprocate and become loyal customers. Advertising, on the other hand, should be considered to include those activities which strictly convert leads into sales.
When the two functions become confused and are both treated like advertising activities, your whole social media strategy can lose momentum and fall well short of your expectations. There are some very specific things you can do however, to avoid falling into this trap and sabotaging your own social media strategy, as the following will demonstrate.
Use both elements in your social media strategy
Now that it has been made clear what the differences are between social media marketing and social media advertising, it should also be clear that your approach to these two should be very different. The ideal social media strategy should incorporate both components and use each one to it’s best advantage. Your social media marketing campaign should seek to establish relationships with potential clients, and to cultivate a sense of trust and confidence in your company brand. By engaging with your target audience on a personal level and introducing your company’s core values, you’ll be off to a good start.
Next, you should seek to provide your followers with a steady stream of content that provides value and information that will be useful to them. When this process is well underway, you can then implement the social media advertising component of your campaign that promotes your products and services and encourages your followers to make a purchase. Both elements of the overall social media strategy are very important, but they should be treated as separate elements under the overall strategy.
Be prepared for market spend
At one time in the past, social media marketing and advertising cost very little, and it was perhaps the least expensive channel for any marketing and advertising initiatives used by companies. That landscape is changing however, and you need to be prepared to change along with it in order to achieve your company’s objectives. It will take time to have company personnel regularly engaging with social media users, and it will take money to purchase ads on many of the platforms, but that is now part of the cost of doing business online. There’s just no way around that.
One of the surest ways to scuttle your own social media strategy is to confuse your activities regarding advertising and marketing. When you understand the difference between these two and react to each appropriately, you will have a much better chance of establishing a very successful social media marketing and advertising program. If you can go a step further and support that initiative financially, it’s even more likely that your social media strategy will help you accomplish whatever goals and objectives your company may have.
When social media and advertising are focused on as separate methods of promoting your business, you will be far more successful than those companies that strictly focus on the advertising channel. Marketing and connecting with your audience is increasingly important as the social media space continues to grow, and ignoring it to focus on advertising will only hurt your company.