Pay to Play on Social Media in Industrial Marketing?

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Paying for promotion on social media can be tempting – but when does it make financial sense?

Whether you’re a social media novice or have an established comprehensive strategy as part of your industrial marketing plan, the thought of paying for a boost on social media can be tempting.

Promoted Twitter posts, Facebook pay ads, the ways to “pay to play” are numerous depending on which platform you’re using. In some instances, industries or companies, “pay to play” can be great. At other times, you might as well set your money on fire.

So when does it make sense to take the leap?

As Jeff Korhan explains in a recent blog post“the key is to distinguish between an investment and expenditures that deliver little future value.”

He explores 3 scenarios why B2B marketers would venture into pay to play, and I have pulled out the 2 most applicable to industrial manufacturers.

Quickly Building New Communities

If you are just getting started with new social media channels, it may make sense to make an investment up front to achieve critical mass more quickly.

For example, if the business is moving into a new market, it will be helpful to attract fans that are currently aligned with established competitors. Here is an excellent article that suggests ways for advertising on the major social media networks to build traffic to your account.

In reality, you are paying to rent the attention of a specific community. Your advertising dollars are buying a look from people that are known to have an affinity for businesses or brands like yours. If your content is solid you will most likely retain a generous number of them.

Of course, other ways to accomplish this for free are to partner with others in your space who will freely help you in exchange for a non-monetary value exchange.

Growing Your Content Marketing Assets

Let’s be clear that we are all renting space on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. For most, that is free rent.

So, when does it make sense to pay to rent when everyone most others are not? When there is a direct conversion from that Facebook account into new business, or when it drives traffic to another site that converts it, such as your primary website.

Too many businesses are chasing Facebook likes that merely serve as social proof. There is nothing at all wrong with this. Facebook is great for nurturing relationships. However, one should question whether it’s necessary to invest in that or allow to happen organically.

If any of the social networks can help to build properties you own that can convert that traffic into profitable outcomes, such as your blog or email newsletter, then the investment makes sense.

In other words, pay to play when it builds traffic that can be converted.

The lesson here is that “pay for play” is not for everyone in industrial marketing. There are, however, times when it makes sense. Just like anything else in marketing, it’s important to look before you leap.

Photo credit: 401(K) 2013

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