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Marketing Defined: Social Media Ad vs. Social Media Post

Accurate terminology makes all the difference. After all, knowing the correct word or phrase to describe something leads to clear communication for all parties involved. In digital marketing, one commonly-confused concept involves the difference between a social media ad vs. social media post.

Let’s start with social media posts.

Also referred to “organic content,” social media posts are just your ordinary, everyday posts made to social media accounts. People posting about what they had for lunch: social media post. Businesses posting about their new intern: social media post.

Making a social media post is completely free and does not cost a dime.

The audience who sees these posts is limited to people who follow your page on most platforms. (This can vary depending on your settings and other users’ interaction with your posts, i.e. sharing.)

Social media ads cost money.

We think this is the bluntest way to help distinguish between a social media ad vs. social media post.  Social media ads are just that: ads. They cost money to place on social media, just like you would pay to put up a billboard or run a radio commercial.

Ads allow you to pay to promote your content to a wider network of consumers.

Posting about what you had for lunch or your business’ new intern? Not a social media ad, unless you turn it into one by paying to promote it to more users.

That’s right—any “post” can be turned into an ad. (This is called “boosting.”) In fact, ads often look just like posts. However, if it’s an ad, it will typically have the word “sponsored” just below the page name.

In addition to being mixed into timeline content, ads can appear in various other placements on social media, such as Stories, Reels, Marketplace and more.

Why you should have a healthy mix of both posts and ads

Social media is a casual environment. You don’t want your page to be overly-salesy with ad pitches. On the other hand, if you’re trying to grow your business, you should allocate some of your marketing budget where potential clients are already spending their time, which is social media.

It’s a good idea to have a healthy balance of both organic social media content (posts) and paid social media content (ads) for these reasons.

In a “nutt” shell

The core difference between a social media ad vs. social media post is dollar signs. Make 12 social media posts a day, and you won’t have to scan your credit card once. Run 12 social media ads, and you will be deciding on a budget to assign to each one.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

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