organic and paid social media
By Carrie-ann | Nov 02, 2023 | Social Media

What Are The Differences Between Organic And Paid Social Media?

It’s no secret that the social media landscape moves quickly, so it’s little wonder that business owners looking to leverage the power of social platforms are constantly questioning whether their focus should be on paid or organic social media.

But if you ever find yourself asking that question, it’s worth taking a step back because I’m willing to bet that it’s the wrong question to be asking.

One of the most pervasive ‘rules’ of marketing is that seven interactions are required with a brand before a customer decides whether or not to make a purchase. When we take this fact alongside the fact that more than 65% of consumers have purchased via social media, it starts to become clear why businesses need both a paid and an organic social strategy.

However, developing a robust social strategy that performs well isn’t a straightforward task. The good news is that I’m here today with a guide featuring some of my top tips and tricks to help you boost your social media strategy and drive better outcomes on your investment.

So, let’s begin by looking at some of the core characteristics of both organic and paid strategies.

Objectives Of An Organic Social Media Strategy

Organic social strategies typically concentrate on:

– Increasing reach
– Boosting engagement
– Creating valuable content
– Building lasting relationships

In terms of direct costs, there aren’t any associated with an organic approach to social media. However, it is important to identify and acknowledge the indirect costs that come with this type of strategy.

For a start, you need to be prepared to invest time and energy into creating engaging content for your ideal audience. Then, when your audience interacts with your content, you must be prepared to engage with them via direct messages and comments in order to build a strong organic following.

Objectives Of A Paid Social Media Strategy

Paid social strategies typically focus on:

– Establishing and achieving short-term objectives
– Promoting content
– Increasing reach
– Minimising costs
– Boosting conversions and engagement
– Successfully scaling

What Exactly Is An Organic Social Media Strategy?

When you share unique content on a social media platform without also paying for an increased level of reach on that post, this is known as an organic social strategy. Organic social content can span a variety of different mediums, including still images, blog posts, videos, and text-based posts.

In addition to sharing branded content, an organic social media strategy must also have a community engagement stage, which will involve responding to comments in a timely manner and encouraging conversations to occur.

A key thing to note here is that organic social strategies often don’t generate the same level of targeting and reach that can be obtained through paid social strategies.

So, why exactly is it so important to have an organic social media strategy?

Organic social strategies are brilliant at fostering a sense of engagement and trust between a business and an audience. This type of strategy also provides countless opportunities to establish a sense of brand authenticity and develop a voice that is unique to your brand.

What Exactly Is A Paid Social Media Strategy?

While organic social media posts predominantly reach an existing audience, paid social media posts are boosted by advertising investment and are therefore pushed out to specific audiences as a way to increase reach, clicks and conversions.

Social media advertising has a selection of benefits, including achieving short-term purchase or lead generation goals, expanding reach in a way that is manageable and scalable, and unlocking the ability to effectively monitor and understand the performance statistics of each campaign.

Like organic posts, social media adverts can take a variety of different forms, including images, videos, text posts, and carousel ads.

There are a number of ways to approach a paid social media strategy. While some businesses opt to develop specific content targeted towards different social platforms and different audience segments, other businesses simply choose to put some advertising revenue behind their existing organic social content to boost reach and connect with a wider audience.

Balancing Organic And Paid Social Strategies

So, we’ve established that both a paid and an organic strategy are required. But how exactly should you approach the process of developing a holistic approach to social media that also feels united and cohesive?

Let’s take it step by step.

1. Establishing Your Objectives

Without a set of clear objectives, you aren’t going to have any direction. Additionally, you won’t be able to determine exactly which tactics are working well and which require some additional refinement.

For both your organic and your paid social media strategies, you should have a set of very clear goals, which may include:

– Lead generation
– Increasing website and/or app traffic
– Boosting brand awareness
– Increasing conversions and revenue

2. Identify Your Target Audience

If you want your social media strategy to succeed, you need to understand with whom you want to connect. So, in addition to knowing your demographics, you should also spend time researching which social platforms they prefer to use, their behaviour patterns, and which content formats will capture their attention.

After all, there’s no point investing in creating video content if your ideal audience prefers text-based posts.

3. Select Your Social Platforms

It’s never a good idea to spread your efforts too thinly, which is why it is important to know which platforms your audience uses the most. While, yes, it’s relatively straightforward to run paid ad campaigns across several platforms, it is much trickier to organically establish a presence that feels authentic.

4. Establish Content Themes

Once you know which platforms you want to target, your next task is to establish themes, messages, topics and aesthetics to ensure that every piece of content you share feels authentic to your brand and will appeal directly to your ideal audience.

The best organic content typically focuses on keeping your audience engaged, whereas paid social content can be used in other ways to highlight special promotions and offers.

5. Plan Your Content

I always recommend creating a content calendar, which will help everyone on your team to keep track of every campaign and tactic. Spend time researching the best times of day to post and ensure that time-critical posts align perfectly with paid ad campaigns and special offers.

6. Optimise Your Campaigns

While campaign optimisation is most beneficial for paid content, the same approach can also be used to boost the performance of your organic content. It is always worth diving into the metrics to determine which elements could be further improved with some strategic refinements.

Both organic and paid social campaigns contribute to a comprehensive online presence, particularly when your social content feels authentic and is designed to boost engagement, awareness, and conversions.