To achieve full-funnel marketing success, a company must balance both paid and organic media strategies. Each approach has its own strengths and supports the other: paid social media expands reach to new audiences, while organic social nurtures a loyal following for free. Without an online presence to back up paid ads, brand trust can diminish. Integrating paid ads that align with organic content creates a cohesive consumer experience. Inconsistent messaging across channels can harm the overall marketing strategy and reduce consumer favorability.

The world of social media started in 2004 when Facebook was only available to a few select American universities. By 2006 Facebook was open to public audiences and running the first social media advertising campaigns; a partnership with a large credit card company to display ads on the platform. While other platforms have come and some have already gone, advertising on social media has stayed.

The potential of social media advertising

However, since then social media platforms have also become a place where businesses can organically grow their online presence. Each social media platform boasts about the powers of their algorithms to find and display relevant content and advertisements to their members. We see this idea fueled by curated feeds, specifically designed to show new and fitting videos or posts to members looking for something similar to what they already enjoy consuming on the platform. Whether the brand is a household name or a new, fresh face on the market, there are a growing number of unpaid opportunities for a brand to gain recognition.

While these discovery feeds are often filled with organic content, today’s social media users are also exposed to advertisements that fit seamlessly into recognized platforms formats. Taking the ever changing algorithms into consideration, many marketers ask, “should I focus more on organic content, or can I reach all my business goals by focusing on paid social media efforts?” Let’s take a look at how both sides of the coin play an important role in business success and how powerful they can be when driven by data to create one full-funnel social media strategy.

What “organic” social media means for today’s brands

Organic social media content is used by a company or brand to develop an authentic online presence. Here it is possible to define brand voice, establish expertise in the industry and create authentic relationships with existing or potential customers and stakeholders.

Consumers rely on social media to put a relatable face to a faceless product or service. Who are the people behind the scenes of their favorite fashion designer, local bakery or even health care provider? Who makes everything run smoothly from beginning to end? And it’s not just the product or service that interests users these days, most want to know their favorite brands are advocates for social good and doing their part to reduce their negative impact on the environment. With the transparency and immediacy social media offers, this is where most consumers will see those ideals come to life.

Social media is also where consumers and customers turn when they are looking for ways to immediately connect with brands. Whether it be through a quick Tweet or a direct message on Instagram, fans, followers and customers know someone at the company is attached to that account and can get their message where it needs to go ASAP. When consumers feel they can connect with a brand, it builds trust and loyalty.

When creating and publishing organic content, brands can expect to interact with some of their followers and friends of followers when a post is shared and also to be expected is people searching through any used hashtags. Thanks to the development of artificial intelligence and ever advancing algorithms, social media platforms create a meaningful experience for users through curated content based on their platform behavior. However, meaningful experiences are often categorized by the algorithm as a high number of interactions and relevancy.

Differentiators of paid, owned and earned media

source: Klickimpuls Article

However, paid ads are designed to generate a large reach, to a relevant audience calling the user to like, follow or make a purchase which leads to less visible organic content from a brand’s followers.

Why paid social media is still relevant for marketing plans

The term “paid social media” is simply put: advertising. Most social media platforms offer opportunities for brands to pay money in exchange for sharing the content to specific targeted audiences.

Using paid social media advertising can be powerful. Social platform advertising managers offer many targeting capabilities to push paid content to a specific audience. Brands have the chance to bring their potential customers to many points of action; reaching new audiences, acquiring new followers, generating leads or boosting sales. It is common to see social advertising used to promote new products, special deals and unique events.

Over time, users have become more comfortable buying products online and even directly through social media platforms. Fueled by social media algorithms, users expect to see products and brands similar to the ones they already are interested in or interact with.

Implementing paid social media activities into the marketing mix helps businesses to hit their goals faster with sales driven campaigns and quick wins. Since the launch of advertising in 2004 Advertising has come a long way; advertising campaigns are more flexible than ever, easily scalable depending on marketing budget. Each ad has a specific call to action that leads the user to a landing page, lead generation form or any other digital tool that will drive the desired results.

Why is it important to combine both organic and paid social media?

Solely focusing on paid media strategies or placing all focus on organic avenues will not provide adequate solutions for a company looking to see full-funnel marketing activity. Each avenue has its own strengths but also complements the purpose of the other. Paid social media helps to reach new broader audiences when organic reach starts to dwindle. However, organic social allows companies to promote products for free to a loyal audience of followers. On the other hand, if paid social media ads are not supported by an online presence, users are quick to distrust the brand or assume the advertised offers are not legitimate.

By implementing paid advertising that reinforces the messaging and values published on the organic social feed, the consumers experience a cohesiveness that resonates beyond the sole purpose of a single ad. Conflicting messaging from channel to channel or from organic to paid can often be detrimental to the overall marketing strategy, and reduce favorability among consumers.

Organic vs. paid social media?

source: Klickimpuls Article

When both organic and paid social media are nurtured, online presence increases as well as return on investment. Often users are shown an ad, and then browse through the organic profile to find out more about the brand, product or other related topics. While users may discover a brand through advertising, they will come back time and time again because they can relate to the brand.

How can this process be coordinated?

Like any strategy related to business goals, both organic and paid social media strategies and goals should be rooted and driven by data. When this happens combining the two happens almost on its own.

Each social media platform offers some kind of insight or analytical tool. This allows business accounts to gain valuable insights based on their social media profile and activity. Insights such as the demographic profile of followers, what time of day the audience is most active on the platform, are there hashtags or other formats that seem to generate higher engagement from the followers. All these aspects could be directly applied to a paid advertising campaign.

Paid advertising can also be used to find out what appeals to the target audience by running experiments. Many social media platforms offer A/B testing capabilities that compare two similar ads and test images, text or call-to-action elements to see which option best resonates with the target audience. The results can be integrated into organic content.

Another way to seamlessly incorporate paid and organic strategies is use organic creative assets for a paid campaign. Boosting best performing organic content is a low-risk tactic that can help capitalize on current creative assets. If the post performs well organically, generating high engagement rate, shares and views, monetary support can help it go even further. Analyze audience behavior towards current content. Look at what motivators drive interactions, or the lack thereof in organic content and make adjustments to its paid counterpart.

Most platforms allow businesses to incorporate CRM Data into their social media business managers or implement a string of code, often called a Tag or Pixel, that tracks user behavior on their own website. Both of these methods allow social media platforms to create lookalike audiences that seek to mirror the attributes of the defined groups: website visitors, fans of business pages, newsletter subscribers, purchasers, etc. These users will be similar in their online behavior and demographic, but most likely have not interacted with the brand yet.

Having the tracking pixel in place enables the retargeting of organic audiences. A customer journey could include many touch points including profile visits, page views and abandoned shopping carts. With retargeting ads, users can be quickly reminded to come back, take another look around and more than likely, finish the sale.

How data-driven content elevates your social media marketing

Data and content are the drivers of success in what should be an ever developing social media marketing strategy. By leveraging key insights regarding the target audience, their interests and needs, businesses will have the tools needed to not only maximize a full-funnel approach but also build stronger online favorability, run cost effective campaigns and achieve a much better return on investment.

In summary, there is no need to decide between organic social media and paid media; the two create a synergy, strengthening the other as it grows. When the two are combined into one full-funnel social media strategy each side of the coin offers value to the brand and will help pave the way to achieving business goals.

Artefact is passionate about helping our clients improve their digital landscape – from launching new products or increasing brand loyalty. If you are looking for support taking your social media strategy to the next level, we’ve got the experts to assist you. Our team is well skilled in organic and paid social media strategy, content and creative management as well as dashboard integrations to deepen insights and accelerate decision making.

Ready to get started improving your digital strategy? The Artefact Social Media team is here to help.

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