When it comes to social media marketing, most people conjure up the image of massive advertising spends, “all just to keep those fat cats at Facebook in the life they’re accustomed to”. Well, the truth is, you don’t have to go down the ad spend route straight away. In fact, for some industries, it’s not an option at all. So what does social media marketing without ads look like? 

I’m glad you asked. 

Social Media Is Just a New Channel

So much has “changed” in marketing over the past 50 years. Heck, a lot has changed in the last 12 years. Since Facebook became a behemoth that businesses just couldn’t ignore anymore. In fact, it’s changing every day. 

Or is it?

Could it just be that we’ve simply started focusing on the channels too much and forgotten about the simple truth? 

The principles of marketing haven’t changed that much in the past 50 years. They’ve evolved, for sure, but then again so have we. 

What I’m trying to say is, the channels we market on have changed. So much, in fact, that the ad men of yesteryear would struggle to keep up with the pace of change. Especially in between multiple scotches on-the-rocks. 

Snap What? Insta This? Pin That? Tik Tok TF? 

You see, as the world evolves, technology has connected us all. More than we probably ever imagined. Now we’re all connected. To the point that we know who’s where, doing what, and with whom, sometimes before they’ve even told anyone. 

As a result, the audience has become impatient. Instant gratification is expected, as they sit down with a glass of wine in hand and pick up their mobile to start scrolling Facebook. 

They’re served with hundreds of ads on a daily basis. All of which are mixed in with a thousand posts from friends, family, exes and companies/brands they like and follow. 

Welcome to the Attention War

Today, if you’re a business/brand on social media, you’re no longer competing with your competitors. It’s no longer as simple as advertising in Anglers Weekly magazine, competing against your fellow fishing rod brands. Oh no. Now you’re competing with everyone and every brand connected to that potential customer. 

If you imagine that the average user spends on average 35 minutes per day on Facebook, how much do you think they see in those 35 minutes? Quickly swipe your thumb up, and imagine how many posts you can scroll through in that time. 

They only really pay attention to something that catches their eye in between swipe-ups. Of course, I’m referring to mobile users, as 96% of Facebook’s users access the platform on a mobile device

You see, the only thing that hasn’t changed is the requirement to create great, memorable, eye-catching content. That’s the secret sauce right there. And that hasn’t changed since the days of Ogilvy or DDB. 

The Secret Sauce

It’s all about the content. I’m sure you’ve seen, heard, or read this before. It’s not something new. But it is something that gets forgotten. Too often for my liking. 

People are so focused on the latest ‘growth-hack’, or the latest platform or tool, that they often forget that what’s being posted is more important than where. Bad content on the latest platform won’t make it good content. 

Equally, spending thousands on advertising bad content isn’t going to work for you either. The only thing that really works, is engaging content that’s made with a little TLC. Particularly, content that’s tailored for your target audience. 

That’s the simple rule.

And one to remember. 

Social Media Marketing Without Ads 

There are a lot of industries on social media that simply can’t advertise. And guess what? Social media marketing without ads still works for their businesses. 

On Facebook, E-cigarettes, the nascent CBD industry, and cryptocurrencies (back when they were cool) are all under strict advertising bans. Other industries are restricted in what and how they can advertise. Take, for instance, alcohol, tobacco, dating, personal trainers/fitness, health supplements and gambling. 

Yet, none of these industries has shunned away from social media. So why would you? 

Engaging, Targeted Content

Creating engaging content doesn’t have to be hard work. Your content just needs to be authentic and true to who you are and who your brand is, always keeping your target audience in mind. Don’t worry if you’re not what you would call a great writer, I’m not either. I just pen (type) my thoughts out. When you have some genuine and useful insight to share, a more personable approach based on personal experience works best. 

In fact, something that resonates really well for a lot of companies is using tools like Facebook Live to help them build a relationship with their audience. It’s as authentic as it gets. Just you on camera. Talking directly to your audience about something. It doesn’t get more keeping it real than that.

If you want some inspiration for using Facebook Live, check out our 30 Days of Live Challenge, where, as an agency, we went live every day for a month. Here’s more on why we did it.

Not sure where to get started with writing blogs for your business? Watch what Gareth Alvarez (Head of Content here at Social INK) recommends with his A FOREST techniques.

And if you’re looking for some simple social media wins, here are 5 social media posts you can create and share right now.

Alternatively, if you want to explore social media marketing with ads, then you’ll want the best social media marketing tools to help you do that.

Whatever you decide to do, just make sure you put more effort into the content you’re posting than where you’re posting it. Trust me, it will make all the difference in the long run. 

Want more useful tips and hints? Join us in our members-only Facebook Group It’s All About Digital Marketing for regular updates, tips, hints to help you with all your digital marketing. 


Chris Bruno
Chris Bruno

Chris, founder and CEO of Social INK, has devised and consulted on more digital marketing and social media marketing campaigns than you can shake a stick at. He’s also got a bit of a thing for online advertising and social media advertising.