Your business is on social media – for our discussion, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram – for a reason; to drive sales. There might be several sub-objectives, such as creating a community, helping with customer service, educating people who might buy from you, but the end goal is usually the same – to drive more sales, or indirectly support more sales.
Getting in the Game
There are two ways to get your information onto a social platform, by organic posting or by paid placements (advertising). The composition (image, copy, call to action) of an organic post can be identical to a paid post.
The organic post is entered into the platform to show up in the news feed of those who are following your page. The key is that the relationship (following) is already established. The visibility of the post is not guaranteed; your post is subject to the parameters of “the algorithm,” which determines what posts to put in the viewers news feed. As the person creating the organic post, you do not have control over what the algorithm decides to do with your information.
Contrast the nature of an organic post with a paid placement, or advertising. The post itself can be identical, but you can target your post, making sure who sees it, sometimes quite precisely. This targeting can be on any number of attributes based on the information the platform has collected from its user base. LinkedIn, for example, allows targeting by attributes such as job title, company, industry, geographic location, Facebook does not have similar job-related information, but it does have different and very powerful targeting options. Since you are paying for the platform to show the post, it is not subject to the algorithm and views are pretty much guaranteed.
Getting Over the Goal Line
Each type of posting best supports different marketing goals. Organic posting strategies often align with long-term goals like building brand awareness, fostering community engagement, and establishing thought leadership. It is about nurturing relationships and gradually building a loyal audience.
Paid strategies yield more immediate results and can be aligned with short-term goals such as generating leads, driving website traffic, and promoting specific products or offers. They offer quick visibility and results. If your social media needs to support an announcement, product or service launch, or expansion into a new territory, for example, paid strategies are usually employed.
These two strategies are not mutually exclusive, each can be used to support the other towards achieving a marketing objective. Organic efforts can complement paid campaigns by providing a consistent brand voice and showcasing genuine interactions with followers. Paid campaigns can be used strategically to boost the visibility of important organic posts or to amplify a specific message to a wider audience.
Do the Players Ever Get Tired?
While the digital platforms themselves never get tired, an important consideration for marketers is ad fatigue and its cousin, authenticity. Advertisements or paid placements are clearly identified on the platforms, so the viewers know what they are looking at. Organic efforts are perceived as more authentic, helping to build a deeper connection with the audience. Viewers can become desensitized to too many ads on the platform, of which yours will be one of many, and tend to pay less attention to them or skip over them completely.
On the Scoreboard: Cost and ROI
Even though you are not paying the platform for an organic post, there is time and effort that goes into creating the post, even if you are doing these posts yourself. Effective organic posting requires that content be shared regularly, otherwise viewers will forget about you. The platforms, in fact the entire online space is (are) very cluttered, and it is easy for viewers to be distracted. They require constant reminder, particularly for the softer goals that organic posting is best suited for.
With organic posts, it is difficult to directly associate sales, or a sale, with a post. While it can be done in some retail settings (“come in today for a special on spice donuts”), it is almost impossible to make the same associations in a business sale, particularly where the product or service is complex and subject to a long sales cycle.
You will have the same creation costs for a paid advertisement or placement on social media, plus you will pay the platform either on a cost-per-click basis or a cost-per-(thousand) views basis. There is a specific type of paid post, a lead-gen ad, that will collect user contact information and send it to you once the user clicks on the ad. While expensive, knowing who clicked on the ad makes the cost more palatable, and is an effective way to ‘harvest’ social media leads that might not otherwise be identifiable.
Being able to associate a lead or opportunity with a specific social media ad or campaign makes tracking much easier and leads to the ability to determine a return on investment (ROI) for your social media efforts. This ROI determination is made easier by marketing automation platforms that track every interaction with an ad, post, or website.
The Coach’s Corner
There is a way to successfully use social media to drive sales for your business. It is almost always a blend of tactics and types of posts, and always used in conjunction with (and in support of) your other, traditional, non-digital marketing and sales efforts. JQLaCorte specializes in marketing programs for financial services firms and manufacturing companies, with the similarity being long sales cycles for complex products and services, subject to the requirements of compliance or engineering (respectively). To learn how best to integrate digital into your marketing strategy, reach out to start a conversation.