No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: Why You Must Pay to Play with Social


The old business statement, “it takes money to make money,” seems to be a forgotten adage. To some, the better question may be: “How is this not still law?”

Social media has become a valid method of advertising and marketing, and business owners and representatives — if they hadn’t before — are beginning to see how they can benefit from the results of using their money to advertise via social. Gone are the days where companies can simply rely on posting great content and share it for free. There are now algorithm changes online that make it possible for free social content to actually be missed by even your most-loyal followers.

Not a smart business move. Particularly in this day and age.

To add, there are many clients out there who simply aren’t in favor of sponsoring their ads on social media. “Why should I pay to boost on Facebook when Facebook is free?” “Why should I sponsor a tweet?”
The answer to those questions is simple: If you don’t, and your competitor does … get ready to be passed. And possibly lapped.

Social media is no longer just a place where people go just to build online friendships or rekindle old friendships with people you haven’t seen in months or years. It’s not just a place where you instant message a buddy, see a hilarious video or listen to an old song that brings back memories.

It’s a business model. And it can be an effective business model if used properly.

In defining “pay to play,” companies utilize the option to work with an algorithm that intertwines paid advertising into the feeds of their followers. According to The Atlantic, the concept was first introduced by Facebook in 2012. Other social media platforms quickly followed suit.

The idea of paid advertising won’t be the lone source of revenue for many companies, but with more people living life through their cellphones and tablets and by way of social media sites, it’s the right business move — and the perfect complement for organic reach. It’s a proven marketing move that may seem costly to some but will allow companies to reach consumers in and outside of your circle.

According to a WordStream article, 75 percent of male internet users and 83 percent of female internet users are on Facebook. That platform alone can be an untapped gold mine for companies looking to expand. And then there are social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and LinkedIn that can reach consumers of all ages.

Using paid advertising side by side with organic reach marketing can make for a great tag team. Both will reach regular consumers. Both can generate new leads. Both can boost keyword rankings (with the help of solid search engine optimization). Both will increase visibility, which will lead to driving traffic.

To add — something that isn’t talked about as much, but should be — both will help to boost the awareness of your brand and help to spread your company’s mission. This is extremely important when focusing on targeting specific audiences — or looking to broaden the target audience to attract more followers.

Using and investing in pay to play will help a company reach their marketing objective goals, but it’s something that cannot be done in a half step. As mentioned before, it takes money to make money in the business world, and as that world becomes more digital, more technologically versatile and — simply put — more social, the most successful businesses will be the ones to “adapt, adopt and flourish.”

First, they must adapt to the concept of paid advertising. There’s no room for only an old-school business mentality anymore. Second, they must adopt the concept of pay to play and use it wisely, yet confidently.

From there, businesses will begin to see the results. And from there, you flourish.

But none of this will happen without putting in the effort. This won’t be a microwave process, but if done correctly, it will make for a wonderful story that will not only help put your business at a higher level but also set your company up for continued growth in a digital world that is elevating and evolving each and every day.

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