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Breaking down two visions of social media marketing

People often look at social media marketing as a way to get tremendous visibility or as a way to gather an online community. Is it that binary?

Some strategies draw a clear distinction… 

Each vision proposes different kinds of actions. When you want people to know about you, you focus on what brings such exposure. Putting PR at the heart of your campaign, teaming up with influencers, running ads, and so on. When you seek to grow a legit community, you try to develop your authority. Becoming a reputable source of information for your audience on social media, mixing short and long-form content, having your own platform and ambassadors. My opinion is that these strategies should always and only be assessed according to your goals. Which will lead you to prioritize social networks where you are sure to meet your audience and have some interesting content to share with.

But the underlying philosophy is the same

When it comes to social media, a common denominator in both visions is the need to get a share of attention. And to get successful results, marketing campaigns don’t have a very different approach. Strategic planning will require some thought. On social media, pretty much everything can get users’ attention. But since their attention is constantly stimulated by others who already got theirs, you will have to leave aside too self-promotional speech and start with something that for sure can catch your audience’s interest. Just like the new kid in a playground occupied by an army of cool kids where everyone is playing with. Unless you rely on spontaneous curiosity from time to time. But that is not a growth strategy in itself.

Look for visibility while building a community!

Perhaps another distinction can be made between the two visions regarding their expected outcome: Social media as a way to get exposure can produce great but short-lived results if there is no other objective than that. What makes social media marketing so appealing, despite the repeated scandals that have plagued Meta, Twitter, or TikTok, is the potential to trigger valuable action within a community you build, with an audience that recognizes your strengths. It may take some time, but so far, it’s unmatched.

In the end, there is, in my opinion, no contradiction between seeking more visibility on social media and building an online community. But for those who see it in the long run, social media will be way more beneficial.

By Max Schleiffer

Digital entrepreneur from Europe. I have grown a marketing consultancy over the decade. Now, I explore new ways of working in the digital age.