Paid vs. Organic Social Media: Enhancing Your Strategy with Both

Are you torn between paid and organic social media strategies? We understand the dilemma. But here's the truth: you can benefit from both approaches. Paid and organic social media each have their strengths and weaknesses,...

Are you torn between paid and organic social media strategies? We understand the dilemma. But here's the truth: you can benefit from both approaches. Paid and organic social media each have their strengths and weaknesses, and by integrating them effectively, you can achieve a well-rounded marketing strategy that boosts both awareness and conversion.

Paid social media advertising has seen a surge in popularity, especially in 2021. Despite challenges like Apple's iOS 14.5 update and algorithm changes, ad spending has reached new heights. The increased usage of social media during the pandemic has expanded the reach of advertisers, making it an opportune time to explore paid social.

On the other hand, organic social media, with its free content shared among users, is vital for building connections with your customers. It allows you to establish your brand's personality, engage customers at every stage of their buying journey, and provide customer support. Organic social media is the foundation of every digital marketing strategy because it allows you to nurture relationships with your customers at scale.

However, organic reach has become increasingly challenging due to ranking algorithms. The average organic reach for a Facebook post is only about 5.5% of your follower count. This decline in organic reach emphasizes the need for businesses to allocate a portion of their social media budget to advertising.

So, how do you integrate paid and organic social media strategies effectively? Let's explore some key steps:

What is Organic Social Media?

Organic social media refers to the free content shared by users, including businesses, on their social media feeds. This content includes posts, photos, videos, memes, and more. When you post organically, your content will reach a percentage of your followers, your followers' followers if they share your post, and people following relevant hashtags.

Organic social media is crucial for establishing your brand's voice and personality, building relationships, and engaging customers at every stage of their buying journey. Let's take a look at some typical organic content examples:

organic Tweet by MoonPie Source: MoonPie

hairstylist portfolio shots This hairstylist showcases portfolio shots, giving clients insight into their aesthetic and reminding current clients of their expertise.

ecommerce furniture shop This ecommerce furniture shop shares user-generated content featuring their products in real-life settings.

Organic social media has its limitations, though. Due to ranking algorithms, only a small percentage of your followers will see your organic posts. It's becoming increasingly challenging to reach your audience and attract new eyes with organic content alone.

What is Paid Social Media?

Paid social media refers to advertising on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. Brands pay to have their content promoted to specific, targeted audiences. Paid social media has experienced a resurgence, with users spending more time on social platforms and becoming accustomed to online shopping via social media stores.

Chart: US Social Network Ad Spending Projections 2018-2022 Source: eMarketer

Paid social media offers numerous benefits, including reaching a larger audience, precisely targeting your ideal customers, and driving conversions. Let's look at some examples:

Contentful Facebook ad Source: Contentful

London Review of Books paid ad Source: @londonreviewofbooks

Zendesk LinkedIn ad Source: Zendesk

Paid social media enables you to target new audiences effectively and drive business goals. However, it requires budget allocation and expertise in managing ads effectively.

Paid vs. Organic Social Media

Both paid and organic social media strategies have their advantages and disadvantages. Here's a summary:

Chart: Benefits of paid vs. organic social media Source: Hootsuite

Organic social media helps you establish and grow your brand's presence, support and retain existing customers, and convert new customers. However, organic reach may be slower and require significant time and expertise.

Paid social media allows you to reach a larger audience, target your ideal customers precisely, and achieve business goals faster. However, it requires budget allocation and expertise in managing ads effectively.

How to Integrate a Paid and Organic Social Media Strategy

Integrating paid and organic social media strategies is essential for strengthening connections with existing customers and reaching new ones. Here are some key steps to follow:

1. Not all promotional posts need to be paid.

Carefully consider whether paid ads are necessary to achieve your key performance indicators (KPIs) and business goals. Sometimes, a creative and original organic post can generate significant buzz among your existing followers. Craft compelling posts to announce new partnerships, pivotal changes, or flagship product updates. Pin these posts to your profile or highlight them in your stories to ensure they receive attention.

2. Boost your best organic content.

Identify your top-performing organic posts and consider boosting them to reach new audiences. This entry-level tactic is low-risk and allows you to leverage content that has already resonated with your existing audience. Allocate a small budget to promote your top weekly or monthly posts. Pay attention to engagement metrics and conversions to evaluate their success.

3. Optimize all your posts using A/B testing.

Don't underestimate the power of split testing. Before allocating your entire social media budget to an ad, test different versions of it with a smaller audience. Assess the effectiveness of your call-to-action, copywriting, visuals, ad placement, and format. You can also experiment with different audience demographics to optimize your ads further. A more successful ad not only delivers better results but can be more cost-effective.

4. Target your ads to people similar to your organic audience.

Leverage the data you've gathered from your organic audience to create targeted ads. Identify your ideal customer's demographics, interests, and pain points, and capitalize on this information when designing your ads. Many social platforms offer the ability to create "lookalike" audiences based on your best customers' characteristics. These lookalike audiences consist of people with similar demographics and behaviors who haven't yet been introduced to your brand.

5. Use retargeting ads to stay connected to your organic audience.

Retargeting campaigns are an effective way to re-engage with people who are already familiar with your business. These individuals may have visited your social media profiles or website, or abandoned a shopping cart. Retargeting ads serve as reminders, encouraging them to return and convert.

6. Look at your data and measure your results.

Analyzing your social media data is crucial for improving your campaigns. Pay attention to social analytics tools that provide insights into your organic and paid content. By reviewing the data side by side, you can make informed adjustments to live campaigns and optimize your budget allocation. For instance, if a Facebook ad is performing well, you can reallocate ad spend across other platforms. Use a social media management tool like Hootsuite Social Advertising to streamline your workflow and track your social ROI.

7. Automate as much as possible.

To manage both paid and organic social media effectively, automate your workflow as much as possible. Schedule your organic posts in advance, streamline approval processes, and set up triggers for boosting posts. Social media management tools like Hootsuite can help you simplify your efforts, plan, publish, manage, and report on all your social media activities, including ads.

By integrating paid and organic social media strategies, you can achieve a comprehensive marketing approach that connects with existing customers and attracts new ones. Book a free demo of Hootsuite Social Advertising today to get a complete view of your social ROI and streamline your social media efforts.

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