Paid vs Organic Social Media Marketing

13 September 2021
by Archie Williamson
4 mins
Paid vs Organic Social Media Marketing

Organic social media marketing refers to the practice of sharing content for free on platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn with the aim of engaging followers, building relationships and establishing a distinctive brand identity.

It is the base on which every business builds – from the smallest startups to the biggest corporations. It is defined as ‘organic’ because it does not require any upfront investment to implement. All you have to do is open an account, create a profile and start posting content in the form of short written posts, videos, photos and stories.

This differs from paid social media marketing, where brands pay a fee to display adverts and sponsored messages. These ads will reach an audience beyond an account’s followers, which helps to broaden the reach of content. Paid social generally uses a pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC) advertising model. And because paid requires investment, calculating ROI is crucial.

“Paid social adds another channel to an already crowded and fragmented conversion funnel, keeping track of return on investment is key,” Liberty Games Head of Digital, Stuart Kerr, admits. If you are looking at using social media marketing for the first time or need to overhaul your output, organic strategies are the best place to start.

What’s the best way to use organic social media?

Posts on social media without any additional ‘influence’ from paid ads will have to drive clicks and engagement on their own. For this reason, content will need to be high quality and served to a receptive audience to drive engagement and clicks. This seems like a catch-22 for new brands, as it can be difficult to build a loyal audience quickly.

The only way to clear this initial hurdle is by posting regularly on a range of platforms. It is important to remember that one of the main objectives for using social media is raising brand awareness. Even if you don’t have a huge audience to begin with, sharing content will help you to achieve this goal.

The constant theme here is content marketing. Whatever method you choose, content will be at the heart of the messages and stories you tell on a daily basis. For example, you could use organic posts to make an announcement about a new product on Facebook and Twitter, while sharing a series of blogs tailored for a specific business audience on LinkedIn.

The great thing about organic social is that it is incredibly versatile, both in terms of the available platforms and the features you can use. Every site has its own unique characteristics. This means you have a blank canvas to do what you want for your brand, so don’t be afraid to experiment when you first start out. Here’s how organic social marketing could work for you:

  • Start posting content and engaging with prospective customers, clients and specialists in your industry
  • People comment on your posts and share them using relevant hashtags, which nurtures digital word of mouth
  • Followers click on links in social media posts directed to your website, which drives organic traffic
  • Followers view you as a go-to resource and regularly check back in to see new content
  • Your accounts double up as an outlet for customer support and relationship management
  • You share and comment on posts from other companies to get into trending conversations on Twitter

Perhaps most importantly, organic social can influence buyer journeys in both B2B and B2C sales cycles. Six in 10 people say a brand’s social page is their first point of contact, even before websites. That would translate to a great deal of lost custom if you didn’t use social platforms organically. Just the links directed to your website in the bio section of a profile could be enough to increase traffic.

What’s the best way to use paid social media?

When you have organic social in order, you can start mixing in paid tactics to boost the reach and visibility of organic posts. You can also display adverts with text, images and videos that target a specific demographic, or ‘remarket’ to people who have visited your website or social media profiles once before.

Paid ads reach a larger number of people because they will be seen by people outside of your social sphere of followers. This makes them great for raising awareness while driving leads and conversions that lead to sales and revenue. Depending on your budget and expertise, paid strategies can help you to achieve goals and objectives in a shorter time span.

However, there is a greater risk that a poorly implemented ad campaign will haemorrhage marketing spend and fail to deliver the ROI your business requires. Paid social media is also a very competitive landscape with potentially high PPC costs, and it requires constant management and realignment to be effective. It is not something you can slowly nurture, like organic social media.

Is a hybrid approach preferable?

The best approach to social media marketing is dependent on your business and its objectives. However, a study by CMI found 83% of B2B marketers attributed their success during the last 12 months to the “value our content provides”. Added-value starts with organic posts. Writing articulate and relevant content, sharing it on social media and responding to comments will always be a great strategy to build from.

Meanwhile, paid social has value if you want to engage new leads as a matter of urgency, perhaps with the aim of appealing to a specific type of customer. CMI also found that engaging with the right audience, calculating ROI and supporting wider business goals are the major challenges social marketers face. Ideally, you need to find a way to use both organic and paid to address these issues.

To conclude, creating a content calendar and then cross-posting blogs and publishing new posts each day is the baseline that small and medium-sized businesses should focus on initially. You can then think about advertising new products and services to a targeted audience using paid channels, and leveraging some of the more advanced features on social sites to improve the quality of your campaigns over time.

If you want to start creating content for those campaigns but don’t have access to an in-house marketing team, we can help. Atlas SEO offers a range of writing services that will boost your visibility in search and get you noticed on social platforms. Contact us today to find out more.

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