Social Media Marketing: Paid vs Organic

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The debate continues to rage about what is the best method of marketing your business digitally; it is a never ending back and forth between PPC and SEO. As this argument continues, there is a parallel taking place in the world of social media; paid ads or organic marketing?

As far back as January 2015 pioneering agency, We Are Social reported that there are currently 2.078 billion active social media accounts in the world; this represents, amongst other things, an enormous number of people to potentially target. With this in mind, there is no wonder social media has become such an important tool for business to implement deep in their marketing strategy – the question is, what is the best way to reach people across the social universe?

Paid Social

In a similar strategy to AdWords, organisations can essentially assign a budget to a particular product or service, and then target an audience with the insights into demographics each social platform gives them. Through various ad formats across multiple social networks, you can keep your ad content fresh and original. This will help keep your ads up to date, and reduces the impression that you are spamming your target audience, whilst also maintaining a visible presence. Through implementing ads across social, you could be saving money on your budget and be targeting much more accurately than the likes of Bing or AdWords.

Obviously the success of your paid ads will also depend on implementing the right strategy.

  • Have you correctly targeted the right audience?
  • Is it on the right device?
  • Have you strategically split your budgets by campaign?

As well as the above, you also need to consider compelling, quality ads that will generate clicks in order to see any return on the budget you are spending. Even if you are successful across paid advertising, there will always be a cost in order to gain traffic, and as previously stated, that money won’t necessarily translate into paying customers.

Organic Social

Simply put, organic marketing across social networks can quite possibly be anything that isn’t paid advertising. This is predominantly content driven and is primarily used to:

  • Maintain a presence for your brand
  • Feed information to your customers
  • Build and maintain a strong bond with customers

All of the above requires a well thought-out and accurately followed strategy.

Content marketing is a feature of organic social media marketing that can help you gain visibility across social networks.  Even though the content itself may be housed somewhere on your homepage or another social platform (a Tweet of a YouTube video for example), social is your best friend in getting your content out in the fog of pictures, videos, and audio with every content marketer hoping it will ‘go viral’. A recent example of brilliant content marketing is for Netflix series, ‘House Of Cards’ and their #FU2016 campaign, if you haven’t seen it yet then have a look, it’s well worth a watch.

As valuable as organically marketing your business across social can be and may appear to be cheaper, it faces similar issues to that of SEO. To execute a successful ‘organic’ social media campaign can take a lot of strategy in the early stages, needing to utilise multiple creative minds putting their heads together to come up with ways of keeping customers engaged as well as coming up with shareable original content, while also featuring varied content collateral.

What works best?

Without being too much of a fence-sitter, both have the potential to be used at the same time to great effect. It also depends completely on your industry, what your business goals are, and what you want from customers. If you are looking to drive traffic and conversions quickly and have the money available, then paid social advertising will be a quick fix. However, if it’s for something that will focus more on your client-customer relationship, organic would be well worth investing in.

Some businesses may only be able to drive people socially through paid ads, with maybe just a blog as the only shareable content, others may find it much simpler to build relationships with their audience; your industry sector will play a big role in what method would be best. Budget-dependent you could potentially gain traction early with paid social ads while devising a strategy to later build a bond with customers and create engaging content to keep them coming back.

For more information about how you can harness the power of social advertising, please contact one of the team at Digital Clarity.

Nick Blane
Nick is a recent graduate of Music and Live Events Management from Bucks New University in High Wycombe. Though his business background centred within the music industry, his exposure and involvement in marketing and social media engagement for brands, helped him take a more holistic approach and apply his connection of digital with sociology along with his entrepreneurial skills.