Do you hesitate between paid and organic social media? Or do you run one of them and hesitate whether to invest in the other one? This POV will help you answer this question and highlight some of the most important differences between organic and paid social posts.
Paid and organic, what’s the difference?
To make it clear, let’s start from explaining the basic difference: organic social content is posted for free, whereas paid content is published with spend behind it. Organic posts are viewed by your followers and if your followers share them, they will be spread further. Paid social posts will appear in the feeds of any chosen audience, meaning that much more people will see them if your current following is small.
Although the average organic reach for a Facebook post is about 5.5% of your follower count and for big brands with large followings, it’s often even less. And it’s now harder than ever to be visible on social media. Not having both an organic social media presence and a targeted paid strategy is a big miss that allows competitors an opportunity to get ahead.
What do you need organic posts for?
One of the first reasons why it’s worth running profiles on social media is to show that your brand exists. You look more trustworthy when you are present not only on your website, but also in several other places.
With organic content, brands can give users an authentic look into what defines the organisation. There are so many brands nowadays, customers often not only look at your product itself but also at what values stand behind it. And social media is perfect for showcasing those values. Is sustainability important to you? Show it on your feed. Do you care about animals? Show it in your reels! In this way, you can build a community of loyal followers and customers that share your values.
A survey shows that 51% of users research a business, which means Googling the brand, checking other users’ opinions, and checking the brand’s social media profiles before buying. Make sure you make a positive impression there that is coherent with your paid ads. This is also why you should share not only the pictures of your products but also internal company news, good reviews, testimonials, and articles where you are mentioned and praised. In this way, you not only establish the presence of your brand but also reinforce positive things others say about you.
Another important issue is that customers value easy access to customer care. Some of them chose social media to reach you. If they see that you haven’t posted in months or years, they may assume the page is abandoned and get discouraged. By keeping minimal activity of at least one post per week, you show that you’re active, engaged, and likely to provide the help they need, so make sure that your profile offers easy access for customers to reach you.
What’s more, you cannot leave your followers’ comments unanswered. If they are positive, you can thank them for choosing your brand, and if they are negative, you can clear up misunderstandings or apologise for a bad experience. By being present and engaged in the conversations, you appear trustworthy to users who turn to social media to evaluate you.
Another reason for having good social media is that you can use it for paid campaigns. If users in any way engage with your brand, for example, by commenting on Facebook, liking your post, or visiting your shop using Facebook’s link, marketers can use this data to build audiences for successful paid campaigns. As social media platforms have user data that allows digital marketers to create specific Retargeting and Lookalike Audiences, it’s one of the best ways businesses can get in front of their future customers.
Can’t I do without paid ads?
Having listed the benefits of organic posts, it’s high time to say that pay-to-play is a fact of life in the social media environment. As I mentioned at the beginning, organic posts have very limited reach and no matter how active you are, you won’t manage to build a vast audience without spend behind it. That means that thanks to advertising dollars, your brand can break through algorithms and connect with audiences that are unlikely to discover it otherwise.
It is estimated that 50% of the global population is active on social media. A lot of people come here to be entertained and look for inspiration. Use this opportunity to build your brand awareness, increase traffic and conversion. What’s more, you don’t have to be afraid of wasting your money on appearing in front of audiences that are not interested in your brand. One of the major benefits of paid social advertising is the possibility of detailed targeting that allows you to narrow down your specific audience by behaviours, activities, preferences, locations, job titles, and interests. Your ads will display for users most aligned to your ideal buyers, instead of a broad audience that may or may not be interested in your content.
Even if you have perfect organic social posting, you cannot plan when your audience see your posts. They will see them when they visit your profile or not at all. But with a well-planned paid campaign, you can influence your future customer intent. For example, when you run a Christmas campaign early enough and your potential customer is exposed to your product many times, it can stay at the back of their minds to be recalled at the moment of purchase.
When you decide to run paid ads, bear in mind that it’s a complicated process that requires a lot of knowledge and planning. To avoid frustration and investing money in the wrong place, we strongly recommend consulting your ideas with professionals with a lot of experience to make each campaign cost-effective.
As an example of how organic and paid social work together, you can have a look at our client Georg Jensen, a jewellery and home decor retail brand from Denmark. We run continuous lower funnel campaigns and on occasion some upper funnel campaigns for the brand. The campaigns always show strong results and it’s not just because of the budget – it’s because they perfectly join paid and organic social.
Georg Jensen is aware that you need to build a coherent brand vision in all channels. For this reason, they run a profile on Instagram where they post regularly and from which you can easily shop, and they react to comments and interact with clients. They do the same on Facebook, where they inform loyal customers about upcoming sales, launch new products, and give followers the opportunity to pre-order new collections. Apart from this, they share news and updates about the brand itself. If a potential customer visits their feed, they learn about the brand’s values and vision through creatives they cannot take their eyes off of. Additionally, there is one more way they benefit from their excellent organic profiles – traffic generated there and on their website is later used for building retargeting and lookalike audiences for paid campaigns.
To get a better look at how this works, visit Georg Jensen’s social media pages and you will see how paid and organic social work together for their success.
Publishing on social media does take up a lot of your time and energy, but it is free of charge and can be highly cost-effective as organic social posting is important for the performance of paid social campaigns. Therefore, it is not secondary, and the reason why we recommend organic and paid social media working together.
I once heard somebody say that if you aren’t present on Facebook, you don’t exist at all. I believe it’s very accurate in this digital world we live in. If you have already made an effort by investing in paid campaigns, invest some more in your organic profile. Think of the social media channel that matches your company’s vision and tailor your posts according to the platform specifications. Never think in the way of doing either organic or paid, as a complete marketing strategy combines the power of these two to boost brand awareness, move new customers into the funnel, and create additional touchpoints with existing ones.
To put it into simple words: use organic posts to delight and serve your existing customers and paid campaigns to attract new eyes and convert.
Social Marketing Specialist
Joanna has worked in MediaGroup's Paid Social team for three years. She primarily specializes in creating and running Meta and Pinterest campaigns for our e-commerce clients and has broad experience in developing LinkedIn campaigns for the B2B industry. Joanna focuses on getting the highest results for our clients, advising them on best practices in social media and keeping them updated about the latest trends.
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