If your brand is just starting to take social media seriously, you’re likely going to start your research on Google or YouTube. You may have come across social media terms like organic social, social listening, or audience personas in your research. We get it; it can all be a bit overwhelming. We definitely don’t want to make it more confusing for you, but you’ll also need to know terms like paid social and organic social.
Organic and paid social are both social media approaches that describe a brand’s method for reaching and engaging with audiences. In this article, we’ll break down organic vs. paid social media, the benefits of each approach, and how you should incorporate them in your overall digital marketing strategy.
What is organic social?
Let’s first start by defining “organic social.” Organic social refers to content created on social media that is published for free. The main thing to understand with organic social is that there aren’t any dollars put behind the content to amplify its reach, engagement, or conversions. You are strictly using your existing audience and marketing prowess to build reach and engagement to drive business growth.
What is paid social?
Paid social, on the other hand, refers to content that is created on social media where advertising dollars are put behind content to bolster its reach, engagement, or conversions. One of paid social’s main advantages is its ability to target specific audiences. With organic social, you don’t have much control over targeting since you’re posting content that’s served directly to your followers. Additionally, your reach is typically limited to the current size of your audience, unless you have a post go viral.
What are the benefits of each?
It’s easy to see the organic vs. paid social media debate as a mutually exclusive one. However, this is the wrong way to look at both social media approaches because you should aim to leverage both. There are benefits to each approach that you should take into consideration.
Organic social media is a great tool for business for a few reasons. First, it’s completely free. Obviously, it’s free to publish and engage on the platform, you’ll just need to hire social media specialists to manage different components like content development or community management.
Secondly, organic social media allows you to nurture relationships with your fans and customers. Social media has enabled people to quickly connect with each other at any point, which has allowed brands to easily connect with fans in ways never seen before.
Finally, brands now have an easier time maintaining relevance with consumers through the ease of social media marketing. Prior to the advent of social media, brands could only maintain brand relevancy by purchasing ad space on television or useless billboards.
We have to come to learn that clean, organic social isn’t always peaches and cream. Organic social does have its disadvantages, particularly with organic reach. The reach brands are able to achieve organically from platforms like Facebook have been steadily declining. Social networks’ business model have slowly become a pay-to-play arena which has pushed many brands to begin investing in paid advertising on social.
On the paid social side, there are a few unique benefits that allow your business to reach its goals quicker. Since you are paying to reach audiences you have the ability to select specific audiences who have a higher propensity to convert. A quick look into Facebook’s Audience Manager and you’ll notice just how robust the audience targeting is. On top of that, you’re even able to create lookalike audiences that are based on your audience or other popular Facebook pages. With organic social, you just don’t get this level of targeting.
This ability allows your brand to reach exactly who you want at any given moment and drive conversions for your site. If you’ve set up your ads correctly, then you can target your intended market and reach those who are most inclined to make a purchase. As you can see, the benefits of paid social media are tied directly to conversions and sales.
When would you use organic social and when would you use paid social?
As we’ve mentioned previously, the choice to use organic or paid social isn’t a mutually exclusive one. If you have the budget for paid social then you should most definitely run a campaign alongside your regular organic content schedule. But, we get it, times are tough and paid social requires a sizable amount of money.
So whether you’re on a tight budget or not, here’s when and why you’d use either approach:
- Use organic social to nurture relationships with your customers, create 1-on-1 connections, and stimulate repeat customers. Build brand voice/identity and produce educational content.
- Use paid social to build brand awareness, drive conversions, web traffic, leads, and reach new audiences.
What makes paid social different from paid search?
At this point, you might be wondering “why wouldn’t I just use other advertising channels like paid search?” Well, you can, but these ad platforms have their pros and cons. So, let’s discuss this a bit.
First off, ad placements on search engines are based on user’s search queries. So much of your strategy is based on targeting specific keywords that you think your ideal consumers are searching for in their purchase journey. This can be a quite difficult task if you don’t have experts on your team to help. Outside of that, your other targeting options are limited to the user’s location, age, and other basic demographics. Whereas, on paid social, your audience targeting options are incredibly detailed and robust.
Another major difference between paid social and paid search is the look of your ads. Much of the advertising industry’s ads are based on visually appealing images and videos. Contrarily, paid search ad formats are mostly text-based which is different from traditional formats. We will say, paid search ads are sometimes visual but let’s be honest those are mostly images of products (blah…).
Ad placement on social media is inherently visual so you have more opportunity to capture an audience’s attention through the use of creative images and visuals.
These aren’t the only differences between the two advertising methods but these are just a couple of the main differences.
Leveraging paid social in your digital marketing strategy
If you have the time and funds to spend on both organic social and paid social you definitely should. Advertising on social media is guaranteed to help you reach new people who may not otherwise see your content organically. Organic social is going to help you nurture relationships with your current followers and maintain brand relevancy. Additionally, it’ll help you educate followers about the benefits of your products or services and potentially lead them further down the purchase funnel. So, leveraging both methods in your digital marketing strategy is a more sound and effective way to make social media work for your business.
Social media marketing is hard for business owners or marketing executives like you. You have a job to do that requires more time than to worry about a consistent publishing schedule or ad spend optimization. So leave your social media strategy to the pros at Redefine Marketing Group. We’ll get your social media game up to speed, worry about all the nitty-gritty, and give you the highlights!