Paid vs. Social media

Paid vs. Social Media: Which One is Better

Lorraine “Hi Sasha! I have just started as a marketing manager in a tech startup in the UK with a breakthrough but very niche product. We are also in the process of setting up an internal sales team as we speak. We have a pretty solid marketing budget to work with and would like to outsource some of the services to agencies or freelancers. Question is, how important is social media in our case, should we really spend time and resources on it at all? Thanks, Lorraine. “

Sasha: This question arrived in my inbox a while ago and I was hesitating on rushing with the response as it’s really an interesting one. But the other day I was a guest on a podcast and received an unexpected question — is social media dead when it comes to being a customer acquisition channel for business? I thought, now is really the time to seriously talk about this. So, should you use social media for your business and to what extent?

It is already a privileged situation when you as a business owner find yourself asking the question, “Where should I spend my money when it comes to marketing?” There are tons of companies that are forced to bootstrap their sales and marketing activities, so if you are not one of them it’s already a good start.

Marketing can be divided roughly into two large segments — paid media, i.e. advertisement budget you spend on Google, Facebook and other platforms, or any other type of paid marketing services, and social media. The latter is assumed to be technically free;create a piece of media, be it a short post, an image, or an article at some cost to you (your time, or freelancer’s time) and you place it on various social media platforms absolutely free of charge.

With paid media you are more or less in control of who is about to see your ad, and as a standing alone effort, it can become quite expensive if you are to compete with others in your field for that same audience. When it comes to social media, you’ll never fully know who ends up seeing your posts, and can’t easily influence how many people will see it. Think of it as the following metaphor:

Imagine a busy shopping street in a large city. There are multiple fancy shops on the ground floor of the buildings, and you can walk along, window shop, and maybe go in from time to time to see if there is something interesting for you to purchase. You might rarely look up when walking along these streets, but on the first floor there are also shops that may never get the same foot traffic as the ones on the ground floor. This is why rent on the ground floor is significantly higher and only bigger brands can afford it. It’s the same in paid advertisement. Bigger companies can spend more money on advertising, experimenting with channels, creatives, and hire lots of people to maintain the shop. Those who have a limited budget and can’t really afford a marketing agency to do the job, are stuck somewhere at tree level — on the 1st or sometimes even on the 2nd or 3rd floor hoping that some potential customers happen to notice their existence one happy day.

Now it becomes interesting. If you use social media, where is your place on that street? Believe it or not, it takes you straight to the sidewalk outside, almost on the street where most of the pedestrians are strolling, looking for something they don’t even know they want yet. You can scream and shout at your future prospective customers, make them aware about your existence, and slowly and carefully lead them to your shop upstairs. So you can optimize your paid advertising cost by using social media to drive lots of foot traffic organically, from the streets, upstairs, to the door of your website and prepare them for the purchase. This is how important social media is, particularly if you don’t have a big budget to spend on marketing or sales.

Here is the most important piece of information — if your company is not online, it doesn’t exist. To drive this point home — Covid is not something temporary. It is going to stay with us. It will forever change our lives along with the way we conduct business. If anyone is interested in what your company is doing, they will first go to your website, and then they will check your company’s social media channels. How many followers and how interesting the content you have on a specific channel might influence the decision of a prospective client and whether or not they should purchase your product or service. Every piece of content you upload onto social media, and every follower you have — look at them as assets you are placing in your company’s bank account.

When you invest in your assets with care and attention, you are more likely to succeed. Topping social media assets consistently makes a strong, healthy account, which in turn builds a strong and healthy business.

Do you have a question about marketing? Contact me at Ask Sasha.