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Organic vs Paid Social Media: How to Create an Integrated Strategy


Organic vs paid social media

When it comes to social media, the question isn’t whether you should focus on organic OR paid social, you need both. Instead, the question should be how to create a strategy where they work in tandem to deliver the best results.

There’s many factors that come into play and that’s why you need a solid social media strategy before you get started. We’ll let you into a little secret – it doesn’t mean posting organic content and putting some pennies behind it. If used correctly, paid social can help your content reach the masses in a way that organic rarely can these days. So, where to begin? Keep reading to find out.

Defining Organic vs Paid social media

Organic social media

Simply put, organic social is content that you post on social media for free, all users have the ability to do this. As a business page, organic content will be shown to current followers or people who’ve liked your page, and if people engage with it, it may appear in the feed of their friends or followers.

To post organic content there are a lot of scheduling tools out there but to get started, it’s easy to use the free tools available in each platform.

Paid social media

Paid social is social media advertising where you put money behind content with the aim of reaching more people and targeting your ideal customer. There are many ways you can target who sees your paid content depending on what your marketing goals are. More on this later.

This is a sponsored LinkedIn post from Sage, you can tell by the ‘Promoted’ tag at the top of the post.

There can be crossover between the two, where you ‘boost’ organic posts to help more users see it. This is especially effective to help drive traffic or engagement to evergreen content such as blog posts.

How to use Organic social media

Having an organic social media presence is the foundation to your overall social media strategy. The aim of organic content is to build a brand presence and nurture your audience to develop a relationship with current and potential customers.

Think of your social media pages as an extension of your website but with more personality. Great content may be the deciding factor between a customer buying from you or your competitor.

How to use organic social media in your marketing strategy:

1. Show your brand’s personality

A stellar social media strategy isn’t all sell, sell, sell. In fact quite the opposite. The key is in the name: social media. Although the networks have developed and the way we use it has changed, users are still there to connect with people, and that includes connecting with companies.

To create personality, look at your tone of voice and how you can use that to communicate with your audience. Think about what mediums of content you’ll use and types of posts your target customer will engage and resonate with.

The best company pages show heaps of personality and if done right, it may help you take some of your competitor’s customers. Take Burger King for example.

Burger King’s social media personality is cheeky but resonates with their customers. From posting Twitter content like this:

To this, which turned into a huge PR piece for the brand:

2. Open a dialogue with your target audience

Use organic social to actually talk to your customers. Want feedback on your service? Ask your followers. Announcing a new product? Tell your followers to get them involved in the excitement. Involving followers in your content will not only help with your engagement but in turn they will move from ‘followers’ to ‘fans’, building the foundation for a long-term relationship.

A great example from Yorkshire Tea, they include their followers in their organic content and their followers lap it up!

This is a two way street, use social media to address and answer customer service queries, diffuse problems that might have escalated and retain customers who might have otherwise churned.

Organic social is also important for validating the legitimacy of your company, if you have a reliable looking social media page with positive reviews, customers might be more likely to buy from you.

3. Provide valuable content

Like we said before, organic social isn’t about promoting products. Focus on the awareness stage of the funnel to begin with. Post valuable content that teaches, inspires or answers pain points.

Users spend time on different social networks for different purposes. Use that to your advantage to diversify your content and reach new audiences. Where image and video prevails on Instagram, thought leadership and trends lead the way on Twitter. Consistently post valuable content on your target audience’s preferred channels and the conversions will come, it may just take more time than paid ads.

How to use Paid social media

Where organic posts sit and wait to gain traction, paid posts are guaranteed to be seen depending on how much money you put behind them and how you set it up. By placing ads where your customers spend their time online, you advertise to them directly.

The first rule of paid social is not to feel intimidated by paid social. One in four online purchases are now made as a result of a social media interaction. It’s a tried and tested way of generating results and guess what, you don’t need to spend the big bucks for it to work!

To get started with paid ads, you need to be clear on how you want to use them. We’d recommend considering a few things first to figure out how it can complement your marketing strategy:

Review your organic results to find what type of content resonates with your audience and performs the best in line with your marketing objectives.

Look at how your competitors are using it. This could mean saving ads you receive from a competitor, or looking at the ads they’re running on Facebook using Facebook Ad Library. Simply search for a competitor or relevant Facebook page and you will find out if they’re currently running ads and if they are, what content they’re using.

Decide what stage of the funnel you want ads to help with and therefore what platforms to use.

Each platform has its own paid ad offering but ultimately the best practices remain the same.

How to use paid social media in your marketing strategy:

1. Boost top performing organic content

After you’ve reviewed your top performing organic content, aim to recreate what worked well in your new posts. Then show it to new eyes by boosting it.

Boosting posts is easier than setting up ad campaigns and low risk. If you want to test the waters of paid social, start here.

We’d recommend boosting inside the Advertising or Campaign Manager dashboard to set it up with structure, rather than boosting directly from the post. In the advertising platforms for each social media network there are better targeting and measuring options available.

2. Optimise ads for each platform

Like with organic social, different types of ads work on different platforms. Make sure your ads are in the right format and size for the network.

As a basis, ensure your ad includes:

  • Call to action (CTA)
  • Short, snappy copy that intrigues
  • Eye-catching visuals
  • Make sure the link works and isn’t broken or directing traffic to the wrong landing page
  • Asana Facebook Ad

Take this Asana ad – short, snappy caption, check. CTA, check. Eye-catching visuals, check.

Planning paid campaigns can mean managing lots of moving parts. Streamline your processes, plan your content and set paid social budgets using Mediatool.

3. Target your ideal audience

The key to any paid campaign, and why paid social can be so lucrative, is the ability to target people based on their interests, demographic and how they spend their time on social media. Being able to target users specifically means your content reaches your target customer sooner, which could lead to more or quicker conversions.

Types of targeting to consider:

Based on demographics: only showing your ad to users in a certain location, age group, gender, job role and more. This is especially helpful for building your audience in new markets or if those engaging with your organic content aren’t converting into leads. Create target personas based on which social media platform they use the most and use them to inform targeting.

Based on interest: targeting users based on activity, interests and groups. This allows you to show your ad to those who follow specific pages (including competitors) or who have expressed interest in an industry or topic.

Lookalike audiences: use current customer data to target people with similar interests, activity and demographics to your customers. To do this, upload data from your CRM and the social network will find users who match.

Retargeting: showing ads to users who have already visited your website or social media page. Retargeting is considered low risk with a high ROI as the user is already a ‘warm’ lead or was already interested in your business off their own back.

4. Don’t skip the split test

A/B testing your ads before you put all your eggs in one basket is the best way to find out what works without spending all of your budget at once. Run smaller scale ad campaigns to find what targeting works in line with your goals.

Maybe you’ll find that your copy isn’t landing how you imagined, or the image isn’t enticing enough. Test forms of content, captions, CTAs and landing pages for each platform until you find the sweet spot.

Use UTM tracking to measure split tests and adjust ads accordingly. In Mediatool it’s easy to create custom UTMs to see how your ads are performing.

5. Test, measure, repeat

Getting paid social right can take some trial and error. Try out different strategies, measure and tweak your approach until you find what works.

It’s important to find what works best for your team too. Whether you’re a one man band or a team of twenty, the goal is to make paid social worthwhile without adding too much to your workload.

That’s where Mediatool comes in. Not only can it help you plan content, create UTMs and manage budgets, it also provides vital data to visualise results from organic and paid social campaigns so you can act faster and work smarter.

A combined approach

The best solution is a combination of the two. Organic social should be central to your social media strategy as your website is to your overall marketing strategy. Paid social should work in partnership with organic to generate faster results.

Interested in learning how our media management platform can help you to implement your social strategy? Mediatool is an all-in-one platform that helps you plan, execute and track your marketing and advertising campaigns. Request a free demo below to find out more.

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