Social Media: The Good, the Bad, and the Reach

Cassie Smith


Ahhhh….social media: everybody’s favorite thing to hate.  For personal use, it’s usually just a fun distraction. (Unless you’re an influencer and get paid to use it, that is. Then it’s, like, your job.)

For businesses, however, social media is a powerful tool. Not only can it help you learn more about your customers or clients, it can provide some information about your business and aid in some decisions. The trick, however, is to learn how to use this tool in the right way and with the right perspective.

I chatted with our smart af Integrated Media Director, Sean Winnett about what social media has to offer businesses of all types.


Why Be on Social?

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest offer people a space to connect. It’s also a place brands and businesses can interact with their clients and customers.

“Like it or not, that’s where the conversation is happening,” says Sean. “If you’re not on social, you can’t be part of the conversation.  And, trust me, it’ll happen with or without you—for better or worse.

“A social presence is also important because it’s one of the first places people go to interact with your brand. People do research there and go there to complain,” says Sean.

Social media is a great place for you to say something about your business. Through active engagement, you can demonstrate core values, company culture, brand pillars, and key differentiators. You can also talk about new products or services and engage in popular culture in an interesting way.

Social media provides unique insight into how you stack up with competition. “You can see other company’s followers, find your spot in the market, be more aware of the competitive landscape,” says Sean.

If nothing else, social media provides a platform for more people to see your business. If part of your marketing game is to get more eyeballs, then social media is where it’s at.


Organic or Ads?

“Both,” says Sean, “but for different reasons.” Having an organic (usually non-paid in-house-created content) social presence will help build brand equity and provide an opportunity to share thought leadership.

“Organic reach is limited, though,” says Sean. “Yes, you may have a lot of followers, but that doesn’t always mean they’ll see your content.” Plus, followers don’t always equate to customers or potential customers.

Advertising on social media costs money, but according to Sean, it’s well worth the investment. “By using ads, you can target a “perfect” audience that’s refined and limits wasting dollars on people who wouldn’t be interested in your business,” says Sean. “Buying ads allows your business to find potential customers outside your organic reach—they go beyond whatever following you’ve built yourself.”

It can be difficult to measure success of organic posts. You can measure the performance of these ads by objective, and measure the success of your campaigns based on goals. For example, if you’re an ecommerce company, you’ll look at how ads converted to sales.”

“Buying ads also allows you to test what works and what doesn’t,” says Sean. Based on what you learn, you can adjust your tactics/creative/audience segmentation.  Making changes based on performance helps ensure you’re not wasting money and you’re getting the return you’re after.

Perhaps the most overlooked benefit of utilizing social ads is the cost. “Although it may not seem like it,” says Sean, “the cost of advertising on social is relatively cheap.”

Sean also explains that businesses often over rely on organic reach. “You have to pay to play,” he says. “If you’re unwilling to invest money into social advertising, you won’t see anything good. You don’t own Facebook, or any other social media platform for that matter. They’re free services. You’re beholden to them and their rules.”


Analyzing Success

Figuring out whether or not a social media ad is successful can be a little tricky if you’re not careful. If you don’t know what you’re looking for or looking at, then you might read the numbers incorrectly.

For example, Sean explains it’s important to remember the goal of each campaign. “If you’re running a traffic campaign,” he says, “don’t freak out if your ad only gets three likes. Likes aren’t the goal.”

We get it, though: Spending money on social media ads without seeing the results you think you’re supposed to can be stressful. Don’t get too bent out of shape about a single campaign. One of the best things to remember about social media advertising is that it can help you paint a bigger picture.

“A single campaign on a single channel doesn’t make a difference,” says Sean. Look at patterns, unexpected audience groups, identify opportunities. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Don’t get sucked in to one thing and think it tells the whole story.”


Social Media Management

Need some help figuring out what to do with your social presence—organic or otherwise? We can totes help! Give us a shout: hello@116andwest.com