Paid Vs Organic Social Media Marketing—which is better?
“Should I be focusing on paid or organic social media marketing?”
This is a common question that is often heard from business owners and marketers alike. What was once an effective and free method to reach a large audience organically had become saturated and competitive, especially with changing social algorithms.
And then paid social advertising came in and businesses started to compete for their audience’s attention. Where strategies used to be about engagement and establishing a presence have now expanded into focusing on customer acquisition. Paid social content was now the new way to promote a brand, and organic content was thought to be no longer as effective.
We agree that the line gets muddled—paid ads on social platforms such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have shown great results in increasing ROI and brand awareness. But a well-crafted organic social media strategy is also important for your followers to build trust and connect with your brand.
Both options have their strengths and weaknesses. This article breaks down the key differences between both, and how you can determine the best approach for your business.
Understanding Paid and Organic Social Media Marketing
Organic Social Media Marketing
Organic social media marketing refers to free content shared on social media platforms. These are posts and videos that users chance upon through unpaid promotions, such as posts seen on your company’s profile, shared by other users, or through hashtags or keywords that you use.
Photo credit to On Good Ground
Organic content is generally used by brands to:
- Establish their brand identity, personality and presence
- Build relationships with their users and followers with relevant informative content
- Engage with their customers
- Support and retain existing customers
However, it’s worth noting that working with organic social media content can be laborious and takes much longer to reach your digital marketing objectives.
Paid Social Media Marketing
On the other hand, paid social media content is a form of advertising on social platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc that allows brands to pay to promote their content.
There are a few types of paid content on social media platforms. One is to boost your existing organic content that has already been posted. Another type is to create a completely new and unique post or video solely for advertising. Both ads can be seen by your existing followers, and may also be shown to targeted audiences who are likely to be interested and potentially generate conversion for the business’s product or service.
Photo credit to Pizza Hut
Paid media has earned a slot in every company’s digital marketing strategy. According to 2022 statistics, social media advertising has grown to become the second largest advertising market.
Companies generally turn to paid social media ad content to:
- Promote their product or services, the latest deals, exclusive content, etc
- Increase awareness and boost their follower count
- Generate more leads for conversion
Paid social media advertising can be fruitful, however, it does require a lot of dedication in time, resources and budget in order for you to learn how to optimise the results to your advantage.
Ideally, the best thing for you to do is be on every social media platform, reaching out to your audiences at every point.
But this can be hard to achieve, and in fact, might be the downfall of your social media content strategy. Not all content needs to be shared everywhere, and not every social media platform has to be a priority.
You see, every social media channel thrives on different kinds of content types and audiences. For example, LinkedIn works best if you’re looking to reach out to a B2B crowd, with plenty of content focussing on jobs and professional news, whereas Instagram is more appealing to the younger crowd with attractive visual content.
So ask yourself the following as you perform a content audit across your social media platforms:
This will help you understand which platforms to add and remove as part of your plan. Of course, it’s not goodbye forever—you’re simply preventing yourself from spreading too thin. Once you’ve set a stable and consistent content strategy across your priority channels, you can always revisit your less active socials once again and decide how you’d like to proceed forward.
When to choose which?
Determining your approach depends on your objective and goals, what you want to achieve, the resources you have, the limitations you face, and the opportunities you have. Here’s what each of them can offer, and how combining them together can complete your strategy.
An organic social media content strategy is meant to nurture and works best to build your brand for the long run. You should focus on optimising your organic social content if your goal is to:
- Build community
- Boost your brand’s credibility, authenticity and reputation
- Directly engage and assist your customers
- Work within a limited budget
A paid social media content strategy can help you reach potential customers directly, with higher efficiency and quicker results. Use paid social content if your goal is to:
- Generate quick results
- Reach your specific customer base more precisely
- Boost your follower count quickly
- Gain traction on social media
Paid ads on social media platforms do require you to set aside a budget. Although each platform does allow for a flexible payment model, it can be highly competitive as every brand fights for visibility and ad space.
Integrating Paid and Organic Social Media Marketing together
Evolving algorithms in social media tend to prioritise paid ads more than organic posts. This doesn’t mean paid ads are better, but they may be more effective than organic posts at the time of posting. For example, organic posts may not gain traction due to a lack of time or because a competitor is already engaging with the same audience before you can. However, paid ads may have guidelines that make it difficult for people to share them through organic channels.
Complete online marketing approaches to social media are less about paid vs organic posts and more about figuring out the best strategy for optimal returns. When planned well, it can attract your audiences and create a great brand experience for them online as well.
Paid social media content can be used to attract audiences by sharing your story and spreading the brand message. Organic content then keeps the momentum going for your followers, bringing them into a community and building trust by captivating audiences further. You can even make the most out of your marketing strategy by analysing your organic social media posts and experimenting with them to see what works best with your audiences, before running them as promotions.
Choosing between paid vs organic social media marketing isn’t straightforward. Both have their pros and cons, with each of them suitable for different priorities and situations. Companies that do not have the budget to implement a social media marketing strategy may choose to target optimising their organic social media content.
However, it is important to bear in mind that the reach and growth are limited in this case. Paid social advertising is necessary for those who are targetting quick returns and reach. Ideally, brands should find a way to integrate these two, drawing audiences with paid ads and retaining them with a solid organic social media content strategy once they’re on board.
Looking to make the best out of your social media marketing strategy?
We’ve helped clients ranging from small businesses to big brands create engaging and cost-effective content and increase a successful presence on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you ace your paid and organic social media marketing strategy.