* This post is edited from the original, which was featured on Socialnomics.
So I am personally all about all-natural, organic, and sustainable stuff. Whether it is the toothpaste I use, the food I eat, or how I buy pretty much anything in my life, having something feel real and not artificial is important to me. This combines with my respect for authenticity and transparency in relationships. My overall preference for the "real deal" even comes into social media with the curious question I’ve stumbled upon when it comes to social media marketing; should one pay to promote or not?
Within the past year, both Facebook and Twitter launched the capacity for users to pay to promote their posts and tweets respectively. Facebook already had their “Ads” that would show up on the side of users’ timelines, but these two new functions put your promoted content right in the personal feeds of your customers. It comes, understandably, from the need to monetize these popular sites, but the real question comes in as to what is the best use of an organization’s money when it comes to engaging your audience; are you really getting what you pay for? Obviously, ideally your content will make it’s way out into the world on it’s own but usually, customers aren’t just following you, they’re following all sorts of different pages, even your competitors for business.
So it seems logical, you want the edge so you pay for promotion and you squash out the competition. Right? Well, the jury is still out on that. Not to say that promoted posts are not useful, but they also aren’t shown to be the way to go for every business and for every post. Social media is about engagement, and using paid promotion for posts can come across as spammy and inauthentic. Facebook paid promotions can be useful to get the word out about a new offer you have for your business or for an upcoming event since they only go out to those who “like” your page, as opposed to Facebook ads that go out to anyone and everyone. The same goes for Twitter. Think about what you’re posting and what is worth it to pay to get out to everyone and sort of muscle your way into their feed.
Another consideration to make is where you are putting this content. Are your customers even on Facebook or are they on Pinterest? Does your content make sense for the social media site you are promoting on? Facebook is different from Twitter which is different from LinkedIn which is different from Instagram (which also now supports ads). It is important to be intentional about the core what, where, when and why of posts in order to get the greatest results. From my perspective, the general logic here should focus on a few points: moderation (as with all things), organic engagement & paid promotion, and lastly, cater to the medium. For this last bit, whether that means you cover your basis on every social networking site or hone in on one, you can save a lot of money and time by knowing where your audience is and creating content for that particular venue. Doing all this will create an authentic aura that avoids the negative connotations of spam ads and allows for you to get the word out on all the great things your organization is up to.