Paid Social Media Marketing vs. Traditional Social Media Marketing

What kind of social media marketing does your business use? Do you use paid marketing or do you use social media in the more traditional way, writing posts, adding pictures and connecting with other users? Both of these approaches can be very successful ways to market your brand, and each has its pros and cons.

Paid Social Media Marketing

Paid social media marketing encompasses any social media marketing tactic you have to pay for. Some common examples include:

  • Promoted tweets and posts
  • Social media ads
  • Sponsored posts
  • Promoted accounts

Businesses that use paid social media often do so with very specific goals in mind. Sometimes these goals include raising awareness, but more often paid social media is used to drive traffic, promote an event, gain customers, publicize a contest or generate leads.

One of the main advantages of paid social media marketing is that your content is almost guaranteed to be presented to your target market. Most social media networks allow advertisers to select specific demographics, allowing them to control where their content goes.

The downside to this is that some users are wary of ads and don’t respond to them at all. Some members of your public may be less likely to trust ads than they would be to trust traditional social media posts.

Traditional Social Media Marketing

For the sake of this post, traditional social media marketing is defined as tactics like status updates, pictures, comments, responses and social media shares. This type of marketing is similar to the way social media is used by your target market, except you should have a strategic campaign behind the way you use your accounts.

Traditional social media marketing allows your business to have conversations with and interact with your market. As customers or potential customers comment on your content or ask questions, you are able to respond. Paid social media marketing doesn’t allow for this.

Using social media this way is also more natural and may be more effective for an audience that is prone to tuning out advertisements and content that is too sales oriented. With traditional social media marketing, your brand can become part of larger conversations and a community, which can be extremely beneficial.

Much of marketing and sales is based on relationships. Traditional social media marketing allows for the growth and fostering of these relationships. If you are seeking to add a level of transparency or approachability to your company, these kinds of tactics can help.

However, traditional social media marketing often takes more time and requires you to work harder to build an audience and to get your message to the right demographic.

The Best of Both Worlds

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Most businesses use a combination of paid and traditional social media marketing. Both strategies have their place and both have strengths and weaknesses that can compliment each other. According to Nielsen, advertisers and agencies use the free social media tools slightly more than they use the paid tools. But, 64 percent of these businesses plan to increase their social media spending in 2013.

The way you use social media marketing to promote your brand will depend on your business and your goals. As you decide what kinds of results you want to get from your social media involvement, you can decide if paid or traditional social media marketing is best for you.