Organic versus paid social media – what you need to know for your marketing budgets

It’s a debate that’s continued since we first connected as friends with Tom at MySpace… how much should you be spending when it comes to social media?

The truth is there’s never a one-size-fits-all answer. For some marketers, they like to plough the majority of their social budget into paid-for, scheduled activity to ensure they’re targeting a specific audience, whereas other workforces prefer to post organic, of-the-moment content with some spend involved if they’re able to.

And yes, while we have said that it isn’t a case of a blanket answer for all, what we would recommend is more of a hybrid approach when it comes to interacting with your online audience. Working in tandem is the key here, so what do you need to know about the two terms? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered…

What is the difference between organic and paid social?

Firstly, let’s break down what it means to produce organic and paid content in this very paragraph. The former is all about activity without marketing spend in a bid to promote comms and is likely being done via free social media tools. Meanwhile, the latter is influenced by advertising and sponsored messages – and has a spending budget to suit.

So, while both have their part to play in the success or failure throughout many brands’ social media channels, it’s important to establish this, what is the desired end goal for the stuff you’re putting out there?

While promoted content can target specific audiences – and is likely to get into their newsfeed by breaking through algorithms – it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll hit ‘like’ or ‘share’, nor comment on the content.

We’d recommend utilising this type of spend when you’ve got something to promote, such as a competition or incentivised scheme. Several ecommerce and B2C brands utilise the power of sponsored posts but B2B companies can do the same too. For example, if you’ve got an impactful guide or white paper to push, could you put some budget behind it to drive downloads?

Meanwhile, with organic posting, what you think might land well could struggle to get the traction you desire. However, the obvious benefit is that it’s free to use and can be a great way to strengthen consumer relationships because you’re responding directly to posts as you manage the content.

Here, we’d recommend investing time more than anything. Understand what your audience is saying at that moment and react accordingly. Campaign activity can still work well without a budget too, especially user-generated content that responds to trends and public feeling. The main factor here is to produce comms that resonate with your recipients and encourage engagement.

Ultimately for us it’s all about the quality of the posts you’re sending into cyberspace. If you’re considering tapping into your marketing spend, don’t overflow your channels with promoted content because people may tire of getting sold to all the time. In the same breath, with an organic approach, don’t let your customer replies go unanswered – show the love and make sure you’re wise to how your customer needs are evolving!

To build a team that lives and breathes your enterprise, generates leads via social media and creates a thriving workplace culture, email: or call 0845 2725990. Make sure you also connect with us via  LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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