Paid vs Social Media

A major issue in planning your company's online marketing is whether to use paid media or social media. Most of the time the answer is a blend of the two, with the final proportions determined by the company's current needs.

Paid Media:

Paid media includes pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, banner ads, and sponsorships, to name a few. These vehicles are good for meeting immediate needs. Social media campaigns can take a comparatively long time to produce results, so projects that require quick turn around - such as boosting sales, testing new messages, and estimating consumer demand - benefit from paid media.

ROI: Paid media also creates a clear path for establishing return on investment (ROI). It is difficult to relate social media expenditures to eventual sales, but with paid programs you can determine exactly the cost per impression, conversion rates, and final cost per sale, making it much easier to evaluate the effectiveness of specific ads.

Message Evaluation: This process allows you to experiment to find the most effective message for each audience. Google's AdWords is a good tool for evaluating which keywords send the most traffic to your site. Ads can be refined and distributed quickly to stay abreast of the latest trends, ensuring your message is always fresh and up-to-date.

Social Media:

Social media includes forums, blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and similar networks. They are good for creating relationships with your customers; social media marketing campaigns can take longer to show results, but once they are up and running new information can spread very quickly.

Community Building: Does a forum exist for your product category? If not, start one. Is there a notable blog discussing issues important to your company? If not, write one. Social media is great at creating a sense of belonging and involvement, especially when users get helpful information from the community.

Reputation Management: Social media's greatest benefit is as a listening device. Instant updates keep you informed what people are saying about your company, your products, and your industry.

Trends: What are architects looking for but not finding? What problems are contractors facing?

Relationship building is one of the most powerful tools in building product sales. In the final analysis, the reason to develop your online presence is because the A/E/C community is increasingly working online. They turn to Google and Wikipedia instead of product binders. Meet them where they are.