4 differences between content and advertising on social media

Social media can be a useful tool for marketing brands and the brand’s product/ service. To get the numbers to be able to receive your sales message, brands must first entice social media users to track the brand’s social media updates. Hence, there is a delicate balance between creating content to capture the attention of the target audience and be able to disseminate advertising effectively.

So what’s the difference between content and advertising? We look at what separates the two below.

  • Content provides a call-to-action to read/watch more, advertising call-to-action is to drive sales (most of the time)

Both content and advertising has to be created with the intention of drawing the attention of the user, but they serve very different purposes. Successful content would be one that draws a high viewership and engagement numbers, while a successful advertising will be one that drives clicks, emails or calls that eventually translates into sales.

  • Content is to build on credibility and following, advertising leverages that credibility and following

Generally, the goal of the brand’s content strategy is to build up the credibility of the brand and grow its following. Advertising then leverages that credibility and following to convert followers into customers. Advertising is more effective when the social media page has more follower, to provide higher credibility.

  • Content has to build viewership organically, advertising can achieve the same results but with higher financial cost

Viral content is the dream of any content strategy. To become viral, it has to happen organically or with minimal advertising. It is too exorbitant a cost to possibly spend enough on marketing to become viral. Advertising has a relatively fixed viewership estimate based on the amount spent, but the success of the advertisement is based on the effectiveness of the conversion process.

  • Users can see the difference from organic content post and sponsored advertised post

On most social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, users can see the difference between content posts and advertised post, either with ‘paid’ or ‘sponsored’ tags attached to the post. In the past, brands would masquerade advertising within effective content creators on social media, but Facebook is introducing measures to ensure that such content has to be declared to the user.


Now that the differences are dissected, in the next post we will learn about the different type of content strategies and which is more effective for your brand.

About Stratgeist

Stratgeist is the predominant expert in enhancing social media performance for businesses. With more than a decade of experience in cutting edge social media technologies, Stratgeist helps businesses analyse the social media climate and tailor the strategy to get optimal results.

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