Paid vs Organic Social Media: What’s the Best Strategy for You?

In Digital Marketing by Kaomi Team

Thinking of using social media for your business? Should you use a paid or an organic social media strategy? What is best for your business? We’ll outline the uses and benefits of both types, enabling you to decide which way you’d like to best improve your brand’s online image. 

Organic Social Media

This is essentially the process of social media posts being hosted on social media sites for free. They are viewed by people through ‘likes,’ ‘comments,’and  ‘shares’ and depending on the value of the post’s content, will determine the engagement and reach i.e. the amount of times a post is seen. 

Benefits of Organic Social Media

Although organic social media reach is somewhat on the decline, there are still many advantages related to this form of posting. Here’s a look at some of them: 

Reach Existing Customers

If you’re looking to share information and insight with your existing customers, then organic posting is a great option. 

Brand Validation

Your existing customers will view your organic social posts and social page as a way to validate their investment in you. Great content will not only ensure brand loyalty, it will also be shared, thereby attracting new customers as well. 

Preferred Site

Most consumers will visit a brand’s social media sites over a website, which means your organic posts can sometimes get seen more than your web pages. 

Customer Engagement

Because most customers will turn to social media pages as the first port of call, this is where they tend to go with compliments and complaints. This means more chances of people coming to your social page and viewing organic social media content. 

Organic Social Media Strategy

To maximise your reach through organic social media, there are certain tactics you can employ. Some of these include: 

  • Minimising sales’ talk and promotions in your organic content. 
  • Use of researched search engine optimisation (SEO) keywords. 
  • Use this platform to rather inspire, share stories and educate your followers. 
  • Showcase your brand’s personality, humanising where possible. 
  • Reinforce your brand’s core beliefs and ethos. 
  • You can offer special promos for loyal followers/fans but make this infrequent. 
  • Make sure you reply to customers as a way to boost brand confidence. 
  • Support user-generated content (UGC) as a way to minimise forced messaging. 
  • As a general rule of thumb do 20% brand focused content and the other 80% of your content should be posts that are relevant or add value e.g. blog tips. Remember in order for organic social media to work, you need to create engaging content.

Paid Social Media

As the name suggests, paid media requires some form of funding and allows you to target specific audiences, defined by demographics, location, interests, and more. Paid social media allows you to reach a larger audience, beyond your followers. A common paid social media format is pay-per-click (PPC)

Benefits of Paid Social Media

There is a growing use of paid social media content as a modern advertising technique that extends a company’s footprint. Here are some of the benefits of this method. 

Increase in Impact

The targeted format of paid social media has resulted in increased spend, with more and more consumers making purchases off this form of advertising. 

Taking the Reigns

Organic social media might reach your target audience and get the reach you hope for, but it’s not guaranteed. With paid-for content, you can be assured you’re being seen. 

Attract New Customers

For new companies looking to establish themselves and attract an audience, paid social media is a great strategy. It will drive traffic to your site and generate sales – when it’s done correctly. 

Option of Boosting

You have the chance to boost a social media post, which is a great solution to test the waters and see what kind of reach you can get with paid social media posting. This option also affords your social post to build social clout/credibility as people engage with it and the more social clout you have the more people trust your brand.

Primary Destination

More and more people, particularly in the low-touch economy, are turning to social media sites for shopping inspiration. 

Data Gathering

When it comes to social media advertising, one of the biggest tools is the data that you collect about your audience. These insights will help you better create future adverts, through specific keyword use and user information. 

Paid Social Media Sites

Here’s a quick look at some of the more popular social media sites for advertising, although there are new ones emerging and dominating every month. 

Facebook

Like it or not, Facebook continues to be the dominant social media site globally, with more than 2 billion monthly users. That’s a quarter of the world’s population, which means finding an audience is entirely possible. Some tips for advertising on Facebook:

  • Customise adverts for different target audiences.
  • The inclusion of emojis has been popularised. 
  • Constantly adapt to avoid advertising fatigue. 
  • Well positioned for B2C and ecommerce sites e.g. Facebook shopping features. 

Instagram

A subsidiary of social media giant, Facebook, Instagram has more than 500 million monthly users with an extremely high engagement rate. Some tips for advertising on Instagram:

  • This is an image- and video-heavy site so adverts must incorporate visual media. 
  • The audience is primarily 18 to 29 years, mostly female users. 
  • Adverts are able to link directly to your product or landing page. 
  • Hashtags are a serious way to connect with audiences. 
  • Well positioned for B2C and ecommerce sites e.g. Instagram shopping features.

Twitter

This site boasts over 300 million monthly users and gives audiences direct access to influencers – such as bloggers. Some tips for advertising on Twitter:

  • Great for driving brand awareness or promoting specific products. e.g. sports & news products.
  • Use an eye-catching and relevant image in the advert. 
  • Limited character use means you need to make the advert impactful, but brief. 

Pinterest 

Another image-heavy site, Pinterest is predominantly used by females and boasts 175 million users a month. Tips for advertising on Pinterest: 

  • Promoted pins will blend into Pinterest boards, so they need to be incredibly creative. 
  • Focus on what’s trending. 
  • Make sure you actively engage with followers. 
  • Be detailed and intentional in the marketing. 
  • Here there is a strong focus on services e.g carpentry and products e.g. fashion.

LinkedIn

This site is quite evenly split among male and female users, with 277 million monthly users ranging from 30 to 64 years. Most users have disposable income making it a lucrative marketing platform. Some tips for advertising on LinkedIn:

  • You should use audience targeted advertising.
  • Make the adverts short and sharp. 
  • Find ways to reach user groups rather than use individual users. 
  • There is a big focus on B2B on this platform and even recruitment – it’s all about building a network of connections.

YouTube

This is actually one of the largest sources of user-generated content which rivals Facebook in terms of monthly users (also around 2 billion). You can use YouTube as a way to host videos for your own site. Some tips for advertising on YouTube:

  • There are many advertising formats, so make sure you choose one to suit your brand. 
  • Create compelling, humanising content.
  • Add interactive elements to enhance the advertisement feel. 
  • The content is very video focused, and as a result YouTube positions itself as one of the best social networks for brand building.

Paid Social Media Strategy

When it comes to paid-for content, you need to outline a very clear strategy that communicates your brand’s messaging and targets the right consumer audience. Here’s a look at some of the social media strategies to consider:

Determine Your Audience

In order to target the right audience, you need to work out exactly who the target audience is. This will then allow you to analyse which social media site or sites will best complement your brand.  Once you have determined what social platforms will best suit your brand, further define your audience by targeting a broader audience set on the relevant social platform. This will give you further insights into your audience demographics e.g. age, locations, gender, interests, LSM groups and more and in turn you will be better positioned for retargeting campaigns later on.

Decide on Sites

If your brand already has a large audience on one social media platform through organic posts, you might want to try advertising on other sites where you don’t yet have a presence. Just make sure the social media site works well with your brand. 

Call to Action

While your advertising might need to be subtle, you will need to direct the consumers with a clear call to action, such as ‘buy now’, with a ‘limited offer’ timeframe to increase the sense of urgency. 

Keep it Brief

People are generally not using social media sites for shopping, so you want to ensure you grab the audience attention without boring them. This means your video or messaging must be short, to the point and most importantly relevant to the target audience. For video advertising on most social networks you have between a 5 to 30 second video length to work with and now with skippable ads being introduced at the 5 second mark on more and more social networks, the goldilocks length for your content is at 5 seconds.

Establish Your Brand as an Authority

A clever use of content marketing is establishing yourself as a topical authority, thereby improving your rankings and making you the ‘go to’ brand for a certain subject. A great tip to add to this, is getting your social page verified when available.

Boosting

If you want to get a feel for social media advertising, then boosting an existing post is a great way to do this. By simply clicking the ‘boost post’ button, you’re able to get a bigger reach for a small amount of money. This is best done with an organic post that has already gained a lot of social clout/traction. 

Keep Testing

Not every brand will get it right the first time around with paid-for content, which is why you need to keep testing and analysing – test different ad types, audience sets, creatives and copy. This will allow you to determine what is and isn’t working, streamlining your future approach. The overall goal is to get your audiences to progress down the sales funnel, from cold, to warm and then finally a frequently purchasing customer.  
The best marketing approach is actually to combine both organic and paid social media as a way to enhance reach and improve brand value. While organic content might get some reach, it’s likely that your business will need to consider paid-for content somewhere along the line. However, it’s important that you work with an experienced digital marketing agency to get the most out of every rand spent. A dedicated digital marketing manager will carefully assess your brand, and work closely with you to ensure your messaging reaches the right audience, and you enjoy faster return-on-investment.

About the Author

Kaomi Team

We aim to maintain a culture of empowering people. The way we do this, changes on an individual basis. Fundamentally we want to find the strengths and drives of each individual, then build around their unique individual traits. This allows us to build dynamic teams with roles that overlap - as the goal is to create a culture of powerful problem-solvers, not just an organisation with a corporate structure forcing individuals into a mould.