Why You Shouldn’t Pay for Social Media

By Guest Comment

NoMoney650If you pay to advertise on social media, you may not be using your resources as efficiently as you could. There are more ways to get your name and product out there than by purchasing ads, which aren’t always worth the money they require. Opponents of this view insist that all businesses should implement paid marketing, as organic strategies look like they’re on the way out. In reality, though, there are still ways to conduct a successful grassroots promotion campaign without paying a penny to the host site — and these methods are generally way more fun.

Facebook

Paid uses: Facebook offers page post ads, sidebar images targeted to your browsing history and promoted posts — ads that show up in your News Feed — as part of its paid advertisements.

Organic uses: With Facebook tightening restrictions on non-paid promotions, one solution is to enlist employees to distribute your content for you. You can also make your official page posts less about your product and more about your customers’ lives, posting the kind of content they receive well and hinting at your promotions here and there. Remember to check out your Facebook page’s analytics to check if your organic strategy is working favorably! If the content is good, Facebook is more likely to show it.

Twitter

Paid uses: Twitter offers a variety of objective-based advertising, such as promoted tweets where posts from users you don’t follow show up on your Twitter feed. Promoted accounts, which are follow suggestions that show up in the middle of your feed, and promoted trends, paid hashtags that show up in the “Trending Now” box, are also part of Twitter’s paid social media package.

Organic uses: Use Twitter activity metrics to judge when you should tweet and what type of content does the best. Offer incentives to existing fans and employees for retweeting such content and recruiting new followers (discounts, vacation time and more). These small acknowledgements can easily come out of your existing ad budget. You can also schedule tweets with Twitter’s free scheduling service, making sure your followers see your content during your highest activity period.

LinkedIn

Paid uses: LinkedIn is different from other social media platforms because of the business nature of the outlet. Its paid ads include business-to-business and targeted business-to-consumer advertising used to acquire new and ideal customers for a business.

Organic uses: On LinkedIn, it’s a little safer than on Facebook to promote content about professional life. The best way to do this is to generate informative articles. If you need ideas, the Pulse page shows you the most popular posts from today, the past week and LinkedIn’s history. You can also use LinkedIn to improve organic visibility by setting up a company page, associating employees with that page, having employees optimize their profiles and more.

Pinterest

Paid uses: Pinterest has fewer paid options than others on this list. Promoted pins are offered as a paid advertising method, and they are meant to blend in naturally with user’s boards. You only pay for the ad when your targeted audience clicks through to your website.

Organic uses: Create non-sponsored boards that people in your market will find useful. Create and repin content directed towards your target’s interests. This makes your target niche more likely to visit you in their down time, when they will be more open to your promotions. After all, Pinterest is very engaging with its visual content. Well-catered posts practically sell themselves.

YouTube

Paid uses: The options for YouTube are more traditionally based. Banner ads and pre-video commercials are the norm here.

Organic uses: Everyone loves to relax with a short, fun video as long as they don’t feel like they’re being advertised to. Many food brands have created YouTube channels featuring recipe demonstrations, giving viewers useful content instead of the same old “Buy our product!” advertising. Consider starting a series on your office life, everyday uses for your product or even something apparently unrelated to your business, but highly entertaining. This will win you channel subscribers, and you may even have a chance at one or more of your videos going viral.

Why It’s Better to Go Organic

Maybe, despite your best efforts, your organic following is not increasing, and any attempts at ad promotion didn’t give you the return you hoped for. It can be tempting at this point to boost your fan base artificially. However, purchasing likes and followers is one of the worst things you can do to your business due to Facebook’s newest fan metrics system. If fans can tell your fan base is suspiciously large, it can damage your credibility. Rather than purchasing fans who don’t really care about your business, use that money and effort to give your existing fans more TLC. Even five loyal customers will yield you more revenue and good reviews than 10,000 fake accounts.

Lastly, don’t give up. Organic promotion is a long-term strategy that won’t feel as rewarding as the instant gratification of certain paid channels. However, successful brands will point you back to their organically cultivated fan base as the reason for their achievements today.

Now go out there and try some of these organic methods in your social media strategy! Don’t forget to let us know which worked best for you.

Katherine Halek is the content strategist at Signazon.com, a leading online printer that works with thousands of small businesses around the country. Katherine enjoys writing about social media, marketing and entrepreneurship. Connect with her on Google+.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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