March 13, 2024

Organic VS Paid Social Media: Do I really need both?

We get these questions all the time…

Which is better for my business, organic or paid social media? Should I just run ads instead of focusing on organic posts? Do I really need to run ads—can’t I just post to social media for free?


Our answer is ALWAYS… do both. If we could shout it from the rooftops, we’d tell you that it may be almost impossible to succeed without leveraging both organic social media and paid ads in your digital marketing strategy. If your business is only focused on one, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.


The power of using both organic and paid lies in their unique abilities to achieve very different, but equally important, objectives that move your customers along their purchase journey.


What Is Organic Social Media?

Organic social is the use of any free services, tools, and functions of a social media platform including: posting photos on Facebook, posting reels on Instagram, sharing stories on Instagram, and sharing an article with your connections on LinkedIn without spending any money.


If done well with a strategic approach, organic social media can do a great job of building and nurturing relationships, boosting your credibility and authenticity, establishing and maintaining your brand, keeping your existing customers engaged and loyal, and creating longer term sustainable results.


It’s not all roses though. With so many companies competing for attention on social, reaching people organically is tough. In fact, the average organic reach (people who will see your content) for a Facebook post is only roughly 5% of your audience (unless you’re boosting your organic content, which you should be). Furthermore, consider that organic’s role is better suited for the long play, building brand awareness, not driving sales or immediate results. 


Organic social media is where people go to scroll, looking for entertainment and news, family updates, etc. They aren’t there hoping to be sold to. Thats why your business needs to view organic social media (posts, reels, etc.) as an opportunity to meet new people, build relationships, and share a few laughs.


moira rose "I'm networking"

If your spend your time trying to sell to people in this space, they will be annoyed and uninterested in your brand and your business. But don’t worry, there is a better way to sell your products and services.


What Is Paid Social Media?

Unlike organic, paid social media refers to any actions on social media that you put money behind. Social channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, etc.) allow you to spend some money to have your content shared with specific people. Paid social media advertising is really popular due to how affordable it is relative to other more traditional forms of advertising. And the fact remains, if you’re not spending any money on social media, it’s nearly impossible to see major success in the digital space.

When companies invest well in paid social advertising, the results are usually fairly immediate, and potentially dramatic. You’re able to target people who are more likely to be interested in your products or services and become customers, even if they’ve never followed or engaged with you before. This will lead to an increased brand awareness, more clicks and conversions. If that’s not enough, consider the detailed analytics and insights into your consumer base that will ultimately help you market better across all platforms and mediums, digital and traditional alike.

But paid social advertising is not without its challenges. One consideration is that once your campaign ends, your results will pretty much stop. This just means you need to have a strategy to create campaigns throughout the year. Another consideration is that over time, you will tend to see a tapering off of ROI. This can happen if you’re not consistently adopting your strategies to meet the constant changes that happen to the platforms.

The difference between organic and paid social media

Final Answer: Implement a strategy that includes both organic and paid social media.

We hear it all the time. Detractors of organic social media often ask “How does this really translate to sales?”. These folks often underestimate its long-term value. Opponents of paid social media often pose the question “Social media channels are free, so why would I pay?”. Both of these justifications are short-sighted and handcuff your ability to capitalize on the full potential of social media advertising.

Just like those symbiotic relationships you learned about in grade 9 bio class, organic and paid social have a mutually beneficial relationship that propels both further when consistently using both. While organic is less promotional in nature and focuses on building meaningful relationships and a positive brand experience, paid has a more direct goal and gives you the ability to have direct calls-to-action. 


Furthermore, having a great organic approach allows you to better understand your customer, and feeds data about who is most likely to engage with you on the platform. In order to capitalize on all that valuable customer data, we can build paid advertising campaigns targeted at people who closely resemble your current customers, or even directly re-target specific people who’ve expressed interest in the past. This makes your advertising budget go further, and makes you way more efficient at understanding who to target with your ad dollars. In short, without a strong organic presence you’re missing out on a tonne of data that will directly improve your paid campaigns.


All in all, paid and organic campaigns complement each other to drive results. That said, if your business doesn’t combine these strategies, you’re risking missing out on new customers, lead generation and conversions. 


Would you like to learn more about digital marketing for your business?

Take a look at our Digital Marketing Certificate to find out all the topics we cover in our extensive training.


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