There are often misconceptions between organic social media and paid social media when it comes to what a brand should invest in first. Building a great social media presence involves leveraging all the tools provided by each platform. But will putting all of your digital marketing budget towards paid social work if your organic social media is not up to scratch?
Organic vs Paid Social Media – The difference
Firstly, let’s look at the difference between organic social media and paid social media.
Organic social media involves sharing free content on your profile without paid promotion. This includes photos, carousels, stories, videos, reels, etc. Using hashtags can bring plenty of awareness as a free searchability tool and ‘scroll stopping’ captions can encourage organic engagement from followers.
If you have read my ‘What is the secret to growing your Instagram organically?‘ blog then you will know that I see consistent, quality engagement as an important part of organic social media, and all it costs is a little of your time. Even 20 minutes a day can make a big difference. A great engagement strategy is key to building a loyal, quality customer base that is more likely to convert.
Consistent organic content also helps establish your identity, your personality and brand ethos.
Paid Social Media is advertising on platforms using monetary methods. Whether that be by boosting an already published post, or putting a certain amount of budget behind a unique post created solely for advertising.
Paid social allows you to be more targeted towards audiences you want to reach. You can get some amazing reach and push brand awareness regionally, nationally or even internationally, targeting specific demographics such as gender, age, location, interests and more. This is a great way to target your ‘ideal’ audience.
In short, organic social media uses free tools to build and engage with your online community. Paid social refers to targeted digital marketing that involves payment.
Should you focus on organic or paid social first?
Ideally, if budget allows, investing in both organic and paid social can bring the best results as they compliment each other and work well together. Ensuring your accounts have the best engagement, reach, and impact means putting out a balanced cadence of content.
But if budget doesn’t allow you to do both, then it’s about getting the basics right first.
Take your website, for example. If your website isn’t up to scratch, isn’t user friendly, and is not highly converting, then spending money on marketing (whether that be via traditional marketing or digitally) to drive traffic to your ineffective website seems like a waste of investment if that traffic is not going to turn into revenue.
The same can be said of your organic socials. If your organic social media strategy (the basics) is not optimised to be engaging, relevant, eye catching or shareable, then you can’t nurture your relationship with audiences as efficiently.
If you see an ad that catches your interest, you will more than likely visit the brand’s profile page first to view more of their content. In this case, you will want your organic social media to be on point and efficient enough to push this audience down your marketing funnel, towards your Facebook or Instagram shop or ideally straight to your website. Turning them from a cold audience to a warm audience.
Organic social media serves and delights your followers, particularly your existing ones. The power of a well-crafted organic post strategy is often overlooked. You can create and build a large buzz with your followers with creative, original, and organic campaigns.
Nail your organic social media strategy and management first, then move onto investing into paid advertising.
Recent Facebook and Instagram algorithm updates have made organic social media a lot more competitive and both platforms push brands to spend money to reach more of their ideal audiences (it’s why the Metaverse is ever growing in value!). So investing in paid social is naturally the next step if you want to look at reaching larger, more targeted audiences.
One exercise you could do to ‘dip your toe’ into paid advertising, is boosting a post that you have already organically published which has really resonated with your current audience. This tactic is low-risk and it doesn’t require much of a budget. In fact you can choose the budget and duration of your boosted post. Take a look at your analytics and insights to see which posts have performed well, and don’t just look at the number of likes. Comments, saves, shares, website and profile visits are much more meaningful.
Facebook and Instagram both give you an estimated reach for the audience you have created before you hit enter to boost your post, so you know roughly how many people will see your ad when it comes to your targeted audience.
If you see good results from boosting posts, then it could be a good time to invest in paid social.
Building a logical, well-structured organic social media strategy should be the first point of call when it comes to your digital marketing strategy. Get the basics right first, then look at putting spend towards paid advertising.
Remember, organic social media is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires dedication and time to build trust with followers and create a loyal online community.
We understand that many brands don’t have the time, resource or even skills to create and constantly manage their organic social media. If you want to chat about the organic social media services we provide, then feel free to get in touch at email@example.com.
Written by Helen Dobson – Core Social Founder