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If you’re a business owner, it’s likely that you’ve heard about organic and paid social media and the surrounding debates over which is best. What drives better business results?

In the short, here’s the initial answer you need. In order to create a strong online presence, your social media strategy needs to include both paid and organic elements. Why? Read on to find out.

What’s the difference?

Before we dive really deep into the benefits of organic vs paid social media, we probably ought to define the difference between the two. Organic Social Media is the content that is posted for free. These posts show up in the feeds of your followers. Your reach will expand as your followers engage with (like, comment and share) your post with their networks. Paid Social Media is content that is shared to an audience beyond your followers, but is promoted at a cost. Occasionally, the worlds of organic and paid can cross paths as well. For example, you can ‘boost’ an organic post so that it reaches more people. This is a good strategy to use for organic posts that are performing well.

Organic Post Deep Dive

Did you know that 58% of consumers visit a brand’s social media pages before making a purchase? What they see when coming to your pages is the organic posts you’ve shared (text, image and video posts, along with the hashtags you’ve used, posts with links and events).

Knowing this, it becomes evident that the effort put into your organic posts is critical to online business success. If you’re unsure of whether a piece of content should be posted organically or with spend behind it, a good tactic can be to question if you want to reach new or existing customers. If you want to reach existing customers, then organic posting may be the right option.

Benefits of Organic Posts

There are many benefits to putting efforts into the content you post organically, including:

It’s more cost-effective

Not including the costs involved in the work required to create organic posts (whether that be through dedicated team members or outsourcing to an agency), there are no immediate payments required to share these types of posts. 

Utilising organic posts on social media is a great option if you’re running on a tight budget and are confident that you can create meaningful content.

Engage directly with your customers

Social media is a great place for you to gather feedback from your followers. If maintained well, an active social profile gives your customers an accessible location to post their concerns, ideas and compliments. If you can dedicate the time and/or resources to consistently respond to comments and interactions, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of your organic efforts.

Helps to build and establish brand awareness

Your social media accounts are a great place for projecting your brands personality, adding an extra layer to your marketing efforts. Whether that be with a sense of humour, providing advice or any other quality you’d like to portray, it allows for customers and prospects to associate those qualities with your brand.

Cons of Organic Posting

While there are many benefits to posting organically, there are some pitfalls too. These can include:

It can be time consuming

Posting consistent, quality content is not a simple, quick fix task. It is a full-time pursuit that takes a considerable amount of time and energy to produce, so if you’ve not got the in-house team members or external help, maintaining your organic efforts can be a big time-drain.

Less flexibility when it comes to reach

When you post organically on social media, the immediate reach of your post will only extend as far as your audience takes it. This means you can only expect that your organic content will reach your immediate audience (your followers) and the people that they share it with. When you publish paid content, you can zero in on and distribute your content to specific demographics and users.

Tips for Successful Organic Posting

Skip the promotional talk

Save the sales talk for your paid ads. Rather than focusing on making sales, focus on sharing content that has value to your followers and prospective followers. Tell stories, inform and inspire with your organic content; create content that helps your followers get to know you, trust you and feel connected to you and your business.

Project your personality

Your organic content is a great platform to showcase who you/your brand really are. Share the people behind the business, share your company values and what makes you tick. 

Reinforce your brand

Your organic content presents the perfect opportunity to reinforce your brand. 

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”

Jeff Bezos

Reinforcing your brand helps your followers to connect with and trust you/your brand. If you’re unsure where to start with this, think about what you want people to know about you. Then look at your existing content to see if that messaging comes across. If it doesn’t, create content that showcases what you do and what you stand for.

Paid Post Deep Dive

Did you know that 24% of consumers made a purchase after seeing an ad on social media in the past year than they did in the previous year?

Unlike with organic posting, where you post your content and wait for the magic to happen, when you post paid content, it is guaranteed to be seen. If you’re only early in your business social media journey, paid social can feel daunting. It does require a little more know-how than organic posting, but it is a great tool to have in your kit, as it can be a great way to generate sales, drive traffic to your site and so much more.

Benefits of Paid Posts

There are many benefits to utilising paid social media posts, including:

Expand your reach by targeting specific users

One of the great benefits to sharing paid posts on social media, is that you have the ability to reach new customers using tools that allow you to pinpoint and reach the exact demographics that will be the most receptive to what your ad is offering. Using Facebook Ads Manager, you can sort your target audience into categories like location, age, gender and interests. These ads will show up on their social media feeds, giving you reach that goes beyond your followers and the ability to connect with specific audiences.

Payment model suits any budget

You don’t need to have a lot of money to run a paid social media campaign – in fact, paid social campaigns are structured in a way that makes them suit every budget. Most platforms will allow you to establish a budget cap on your paid efforts, so your budget is never exceeded. Generally, paid social campaigns are charged on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis, which means that you only pay when users directly interact with your ad.

Results are immediate

While the efforts that you put into your organic posts play part in a long-term strategy, paid social media shows results immediately, as your ad is placed on your potential customers’ feeds as soon as you hit ‘publish’, or at the time you may have elected to schedule the campaign to commence.

Cons of Paid Posts

While there are many benefits to utilising paid posts, there are some pitfalls too. These can include:

It requires a lot of attention

Paid social media isn’t a ‘set and forget’ kind of situation. To ensure that you get the most out of them, you need to monitor, analyse and consistently adjust. Most platforms include analytics, so that you can understand how your ads are performing and will inform you on how you can best structure your ads as they evolve. Like most things, your efforts with paid social media will only be as effective as the effort you put into it. 

ROI may not be meaningful

No matter how much spend you put behind your social media campaigns, your money could still go to waste if your efforts are ineffective. It’s an easy cycle to fall into, but if you’re continuously experimenting and failing with your paid social media efforts, you’re essentially burning money.

If you’re a small business, or new to social media advertising, and lack the knowledge and skill-set required to adequately coordinate a paid social media strategy, you could find yourself wasting resources that could be better allocated into other forms of marketing.

You might find yourself in a big competitive pool

Unfortunately for all of us, social media advertising is not a well-kept secret. Finding your place in a crowded landscape may mean that PPC rates may be higher for reaching your target demographics. However, don’t let this deter you, it just means that you’ll need to focus on creating high-quality, attention-grabbing content in order to get mileage from your paid social budget.

Tips for Successful Paid Posting

Target the right audience

Correct targeting is what makes a social ad effective. When you pair the right audience with the right messaging, you can see incredible results.

Have a clear Call To Action

Be direct with what you want your viewers to do next. This means including a strong call to action (CTA). If you want to drive sales, this would be encouraging them to ‘buy now’, or if you have a gated e-book you want downloaded, this would be encouraging them to ‘download now’. To add urgency to your promotion, you could even include a limited time special offer as well.

Keep it short

Your ads on social media will be displayed in the news feeds of people who may not know who you/your brand are and may not be actively looking to engage with your content. This is why it’s so important that you keep your messaging as short and to the point as possible. Share a message that will resonate quickly with your target audience.

Don’t stop testing

We all know the age-old quote ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try again’. The same applies to your paid social media efforts. Continuously test different messaging, imagery and CTA’s, so that you can always be improving on your results.

Hopefully this has helped to explain the difference between organic and paid posting! If you’d like help with putting your own organic and/or paid social media strategies together, check out our services page for more information or get in touch today!