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Social Media is Free, Why Should I Pay for Marketing?

Social Media is Free, Why Should I Pay for Marketing?

For a long time, Facebook leaned heavily on the idea that it was free – and always would be. Similarly, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have absolutely no barrier to entry for individuals or organizations, as long as they’re old enough to sign up.

This low bar is what, in many ways, led to the social media marketing boom; potential customers signed up, and brands followed suit, leading to an online ecosystem full of constant conversations and access on both sides unlike anything that had ever been seen before.

So if social media is free, why do so many businesses hire marketers to handle their profiles? Well, the reality now is that…

Successful Social Media Actually Isn’t Free Anymore

Responding to a survey from research firm Gartner in 2016, a stunning 80% of industry leaders said that they would be “plac[ing] paid advertising programs on social media within the next twelve months;” 42% of that group would be paying for social ads for the first time this year, while 38% reported already having paid social campaigns in place.

This is an unbelievably important statistic, one that speaks to where social media marketing is right now – and where it’s going.

While you may never have to pay just to access the features of Facebook or Twitter, the reality is that it now takes a certain level of investment to see success using those platforms. Without paying for promotion, your brand’s organic reach on Facebook is likely to remain stagnant; this means that the links, images, and updates you share will reach a fairly small number of people – perhaps as little as 2% of your total number of Facebook fans.

If people aren’t seeing your content, then they aren’t interacting with it, clicking it, sharing it. If you’re not maximizing your potential audience, then you aren’t getting the most out of your marketing efforts.

Working with a digital marketing professional will allow you to make sure that your social media budget – as much or as little as that may be – is being put to its best possible use, allowing you to create and share the ads targeted specifically towards the audience that is most likely to produce results for you.

Certainly, you can undertake paid social marketing on your own! But it’s important to realize that it can be complicated (even for experts), and is a process that will certainly require trial and error and a steep learning curve – which likely means a few lost dollars along the way as you learn what works and what doesn’t for your brand (and try to keep up with your competitors, who are investing more and bringing on outside help). You can save a lot of time and trouble by contracting with a professional in the beginning, one who is able to listen to your needs and work with your unique budget and strategy.

Marketing Pros Have Access to Sophisticated Tools…

Part of what makes paid social advertising so daunting is how complicated it can seem from the outside. It’s perfectly easy to click “promote this post” and let Facebook do the rest, but engage with the Ads platform any further and you’re certain to wind up in a world dominated by ad spend, micro-targeting, and analytics that may be difficult to parse.

Your social media marketing expert, however, is familiar with what it takes to get a social advertising campaign off the ground, as well as all the little things it takes to fine-tune and tweak a campaign at it goes on. Duties can include installing code on the back end of your website in order to track social traffic or conversions and start “retargeting” website visitors; tracking reach and engagement using a social analytics tool; and engaging in “social listening” by tracking references to your brand and other important keywords across social channels, allowing you to respond to feedback and keep up to date with the chatter going on about you and your industry.

In other words, successful social marketing isn’t about “setting and forgetting” a link or a photo; instead, it is an active and ongoing process that can require consistent attention and specialized tools.

… And Can Fully Dedicate Themselves to Creating Content for Your Brand

The other thing that a successful social campaign requires? Content, and lots of it.

Even if you’re attempting to give “free” social marketing a go, you’ll still need to be able to supply a consistent stream of content. That may be as simple as curating links, or it could be as intensive as producing streaming video content or shareable images specifically designed for maximum social media shareability.

But in any case, you will always need to be producing content of some sort. Your social media fans and followers are hungry, and feeding their insatiable appetite for content can quickly become a full-time job. Do you have the time to always be designing infographics, writing share-worthy blog posts or news articles, and Snapchatting relevant pictures or videos and keep up with the workload that is your actual career?

If you do, that’s great! But for the vast majority of us, keeping on top of our day-to-day can be tough enough without the added stress of creating a social media posting schedule and always having enough creative, high quality content to fill it up.

Bringing on a social media marketing team that specializes in content creation, however, will help ensure that you – and, more importantly, your audience of potential customers – never run out of readable, watchable, lovable, shareable social content, the sort that you’d be happy to put your brand’s name on.

Have any questions about what it takes to set up a successful social media campaign today? Looking to expand your efforts or fix a trouble spot? Just want to dig deeper into some of your lingering questions? Whatever your social media marketing needs, our team is here and happy to help! Drop us a line whenever you want to get the conversation started!

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).