Organic Versus Paid Social Media Promotion – What Should I be Using for my Business?

organic versus paid socialThe difference between paid and organic promotion

Organic content on social media – This includes all of the free content which individuals and businesses share with each other on social media platforms. It can take the form of blogs, photos, video clips, polls and more. When you post a piece of content through a business profile on social media it will be shown to a small proportion of your followers for free and may also be seen by people who have chosen to follow specific hashtags included in your post. If the content is engaging for your followers they will share the content with their own connections and hence your message spreads organically without the use of paid advertising.

Paid promotions on social media – Paid promotions on social media involve paying the social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter directly in order to advertise your business or promote your content to a defined target audience. As algorithms on the big platforms have been adapted over time and more companies have started to promote themselves via social media, it has become increasingly difficult for brands to reach their target audience with organic content alone in many cases.

‘For instance, on Facebook in late 2019 organic reach was down 2.2%, meaning that the average organic reach for a Facebook post is about 5.5% of your follower count. For big brands with large followings, it’s often even less.’*1

Advertising managers within the social media platforms have evolved over time to include a huge array of potential advertising options. These vary from the ability to ‘boost’ or ‘sponsor’ existing content posts to enable your business to reach a specific and wider audience with a particular piece of organic content or to set up ads that appear to followers in various areas of a platform and not on your company profile itself. A huge range of ad types for different objectives, targeting options, placements and creative formats are available from the main social media platforms.

What type of social media promotion should I be using for my business?

The type of social media promotion to use depends on a number of different factors and will vary based on each individual business, your objectives and the industry sector you are working in. Generally speaking, we find that most social media management projects require a combination of organic content and paid advertising to produce optimal results, but every campaign should be kept under constant review as the social media landscape and your business evolves. Here are just some of the common scenarios that may affect the balance between organic and paid promotion:

A business new to social media – If your business is new to social media, you may need to use a high proportion of paid advertising in the early stages of a campaign in order to build your fan base when there are few existing followers to share content organically from the outset. If your brand is well established offline, it may be easier and faster to build your following online than for those businesses that have a completely new brand identity and no prior recognition. New brands will also benefit from organic posts which help to instil trust in potential buyers and show that they understand their target markets.

Expanding a target market or reaching new sectors – Your business may have an established following on social media but as the company grows over time you may want to target new market segments or geographical locations. Depending on the definition of your new target market, it may be unlikely that you will reach them efficiently via organic sharing of your content by existing followers. Therefore, a paid promotion may be necessary to target the new market precisely.

Maintaining existing client relationships – Where a major objective of your social media marketing activity is to maintain and strengthen relationships with existing customers or pipeline prospects, organic content is a major component of the strategy. The content not only sets the tone for your brand but can help you to educate your customers with informative content, build loyalty through the sharing of helpful information, nurture potential prospects and improve customer service. However, often communicating with existing and past customers can benefit from paid promotion, as only a small proportion of followers tend to see organic posts. Paid promotion can help you reach more warm followers who have at some point expressed interest in your company and perform re-targeting with tailored messaging.

The social media landscape for your industry – your business may be very niche providing opportunities to post unusual content that most people have not seen before. In this scenario the content may be more likely to get a high number of organic shares. Similarly, if you are launching a brand-new innovative product or service, this may be picked up and shared organically with comparatively little effort versus a business operating in a highly crowded marketplace where there is an abundance of similar product or service-related information. That said, it is often possible even in saturated markets to find gaps in existing content, in order to produce pieces which are different and engaging for your target market to put you ahead of the competition.

Your time frame for obtaining results – If you need to get your product or service to market fast, you may consider paid social media promotion as a vehicle to speed up the process. Paid advertising is directly measurable and you are able to control spend versus results ensuring that you get your message in front of prospects fast and efficiently.

Your chosen social media platforms – At the start of any social media marketing initiative it’s important to decide which are the most appropriate social media platforms to invest in for your business. This will depend on a variety of factors, but once established each of your chosen platforms will have differing post formats, ways of operating and advertising options which in turn will affect your paid versus organic content strategy.

How can Lightning Transformations support your business with social media management?

Lightning Transformations has years of experience in delivering social media marketing campaigns and training for clients. We have the knowledge and expertise to develop a social media strategy which includes, not just the right balance of organic and paid promotion, but all other elements required to harness the power of social media for your business. Most clients benefit from a combination of our training and management services: We offer tailored support, managing as much of your social media activity as you require and empowering you to take control of any aspect through extensive ongoing training. During the ongoing pandemic our training can be delivered online where required. To find out how we can support your business, call us on 01284 332 738, email or click here to submit an enquiry.