Organic vs. Paid Social Media - How to Integrate Both into Your Strategy

May 7, 2021 Written By Hemant Parmar

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Social media marketing has developed quite a bit since the last few years and strategies used to be about engagement and creating a better and more personal presence online. In today’s time, social media is being used for the full customer journey, including customer acquisition, remarketing, retention, and service. Let’s dig into organic social vs. paid social media and why it’s important to have a hybrid strategy in place.

Thinking about the options between organic vs paid social media for your brand? We’ll save you some legwork, you’re probably going to want to do a bit of both. Organic and paid social media are different beast harnessed for different plans and goals. But for a holistic approach that balances awareness with conversion, it pays off to know the pros and cons of each.

If you’re new to paid social media, 2021 is an interesting time to get started. The reason why is because pandemic has made people using social media more all over the world while ad spend isn’t keeping up. Some social media platforms have found ups and some downs in their revenues as many brands pause their advertising, either to save money during an economic downtown or to take a moral stance against hate speech.

The question is where does that leave your brand’s social media marketing strategy? Well, it depends on your overarching goals. Let’s solve the mystery together!

What is Organic Social Media?

Organic social media refers to the free content (posts, photos, video, memes, stories, etc.) that all users, including businesses and brands, share with each other on their social media platform feeds.

When you do this as a brand, you can expect many benefits along with the people who will see it is:

  • The number of followers
  • Your follower’s followers (In case of resharing)
  • People following any hashtags you use

It sounds pretty easy, but the reason that organic social media is the foundation of every digital marketing strategy today is that it’s the best way to nurture a connection with your customers at scale.

Why brands using organic social media?

  • To build personality and voice
  • Build a relationship by sharing informative, engaging, and/or inspiring content
  • Engage customers at every stage of their buying journey
  • Support their customers with customer service

What is Paid Social Media?

Paid social media is nothing but advertising. It’s when brands pay money to different social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. in order to have their content shared with specific new audiences who are likely to be interested, either through boosting their organic content or designing unique advertisements.

Paid posts are the best way for brands to target new audiences on social media, and turn them into customers. Brands use paid social to:

  • Raise brand awareness and entice new followers
  • Market their newest deal, content, events, etc.
  • Generate leads
  • Boost conversions (including eCommerce sales)

Organic vs. Paid Social Media

Organic and paid social strategies have their own pros and cons. Let’s summarize them.

An organic social media strategy nurtures your relationship with your customers or audience. It helps you:

  • Build and grow your brand’s online presence where people are already spending their time
  • Support and retain existing customers
  • Convert new customers by showing them what you’re about

However, organic is often slower to reach business goals, and while it’s free, it takes a lot of time, experimentation, and expertise to get right.

Meanwhile, a paid social media strategy is how you connect with new customers or audience members. It helps you:

  • Reach a larger audience
  • Target your ideal customers
  • Hit your business goals faster

That said, while organic activity is necessary for relationship building, it is also true that network ranking algorithms mean pay-to-play is a fact of life on social, now.

Well, this comparison is much like organic search vs paid search. Organic social is any social media activity without a paid promotion. It uses free social media tools to build and communicate with an online following.

Paid social refers to anything on social media that’s influenced by advertising dollars. In other words, advertisements or sponsored posts that brands pay a social network to display to audiences beyond their followers.

Cost-per-click is one of the most common methods of charging for this type of promotion. Paid and organic social strategies work best in tandem to engage and nurture your followers while extending the reach of your brand to a broader audience.

How to Integrate a paid and organic social media?

The method of the majority of integrated social media strategies is using organic to serve and delight your current customers while attracting new eyes with paid ads.

  • All promotions posts are different:

Yes, first things first, only pay for ads when they can actually help you meet your needs and reach your business goals. Ads aren’t always the answer on social and even if they were, remember the power of a well-crafted organic post that people want to share.

For instance, when you’re launching a new product, whether it’s a partnership, a pivot, or a new iteration on your flagship product. Your current followers need to be informed and a creative, original, organic campaign will build buzz all on its own. Craft a compelling post, pin it to your profile, or drop it in your story’s highlights if it’s big enough news.

Meanwhile, if your organic activity isn’t getting the reach or impressions, you’d hoped for, then it might be time to open the wallet.

  • Create organic content:

This is the best and entry-level tactic because it’s low-risk, you don’t need to come up with an ad, let alone an ad campaign. But most social media pros will tell you that when they notice they’ve got a hit on their hands, it’s time to consider supporting it with spend.

  • Do A/B testing:

This should be the most considerable thing that’s skipped way too often. Before you allocate your social media budget to an ad run versions of it by a smaller audience to see if it’s any good.

Test your CTA, your copywriting, your visuals, and the ad’s placement, format, and even the audience targeting. Meanwhile, for organic posts, you can set up manual split tests and track results.

  • Trust the Data:

As always, the best results come from integrated teams, monitoring, analysis, and optimization. Spending on the right tools and strategic partners is key to creating an effective paid and organic social media strategy.

  • Target and Retarget:

As the name suggests, a lookalike audience is the best way to target untapped individuals who share similar demographics and behaviors to your current customers. This data can help you grow social media organically and following, from an existing business list like newsletter subscribers or behavior-driven actions.

Moreover, in addition, to attract new individuals, your brand can use paid social media advertising to stay connected with your organic audience. Retargeting campaigns serve as a friendly reminder for those who have recently visited your social website.

Summing Up

All in all, modern customers are making it easier than ever for smaller stores and direct-to-customer brands to compete against large corporations. We thought and believe that organic and paid social media, both should be implemented in your strategy to achieve specific business goals.

Ready to dive deeper into Organic vs. Paid social media strategy? M-connect Media can help you choose and we’ll help you discuss strategy for your eCommerce website. Consult our eCommerce experts and discuss your needs.

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