Social media has become such an integral part of our lives, that it feels almost second nature to wake up and scroll through that feed. Besides checking up on your friends or that latest cat video, you’re also checking out what your favorite brands are up to as well as discovering new ones. These companies are using both organic and paid social media marketing strategies to draw in larger audiences. The successful companies are using the right mix of organic and paid strategies to actually make the user convert – make the purchase!

So what is “organic” social media? What is “paid” social media? Read on to learn the differences and why you need both for your business to succeed.

Organic social media refers to any of a business’ activities on social media that rely on attracting and engaging users organically, or in other words, without paid promotion. Your customers are the ones genuinely doing the recommending for you. It can take the form of customer service interactions, user reviews and testimonials, sharing content from your blog or website, or even just good old word-of-mouth among peers.

Paid social media, on the other hand, refers to any of your activities on social media that utilize paid advertising (that “Sponsored” text under an Instagram post, or “Sponsored” message in your LinkedIn Messaging — both perfect examples of paid social media). Paid social is most often charged on a CPC (Cost-Per-Click) basis.

Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between these two types of social media advertising. Some paid social posts really do appear like organic posts because of its branding; whether it’s the creative visual asset or the voice of the copy (the text). This type of paid post may have been strategized to target users who are less likely to click on advertisements. More obvious-looking paid posts are just as effective as well, so long as they are being targeted correctly.

So which type of social media is best for your brand? In short, BOTH.

Organic Social vs. Paid Social. What's the Difference?

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Social media has become such an integral part of our lives, that it feels almost second nature to wake up and scroll through that feed. Besides checking up on your friends or that latest cat video, you’re also checking out what your favorite brands are up to as well as discovering new ones. These companies are using both organic and paid social media marketing strategies to draw in larger audiences. The successful companies are using the right mix of organic and paid strategies to actually make the user convert – make the purchase!

So what is “organic” social media? What is “paid” social media? Read on to learn the differences and why you need both for your business to succeed.

Organic social media refers to any of a business’ activities on social media that rely on attracting and engaging users organically, or in other words, without paid promotion. Your customers are the ones genuinely doing the recommending for you. It can take the form of customer service interactions, user reviews and testimonials, sharing content from your blog or website, or even just good old word-of-mouth among peers.

Paid social media, on the other hand, refers to any of your activities on social media that utilize paid advertising (that “Sponsored” text under an Instagram post, or “Sponsored” message in your LinkedIn Messaging — both perfect examples of paid social media). Paid social is most often charged on a CPC (Cost-Per-Click) basis.

Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between these two types of social media advertising. Some paid social posts really do appear like organic posts because of its branding; whether it’s the creative visual asset or the voice of the copy (the text). This type of paid post may have been strategized to target users who are less likely to click on advertisements. More obvious-looking paid posts are just as effective as well, so long as they are being targeted correctly.

So which type of social media is best for your brand? In short, BOTH.

Organic Social vs. Paid Social. What's the Difference?

Organic Social Media

IT’S FREE. One of the best perks of organic social media is that it does not cost you anything to post on most social media platforms. Those last-minute holiday closing hours you need to let everybody know about? Not a problem, organic social media is perfect for your company’s updates. Now, before we start celebrating, let’s remember that time is money, and it still takes a lot of time to devise an organic social media strategy, create a visual asset, and come up with a catchy copy (the text section part of the post).

Other benefits of organic social media are creating and increasing brand awareness, such as when potential users come across your post and or content when searching their favorite hashtags. If your post is appealing enough, this may make the user visit your profile to learn more, and if they like what they see, they hit that “subscribe”, “follow”, or “like” button so that they can digest your content as soon as you publish it. From there, the snowball effect can take place: you publish a post about your hot new product, the follower “likes” it, comments about how much they love your new product (maybe they even re-post the original post, driving more traffic to your social media profile, and thus increasing your potential social media audience), and then they tell their friends about your new product!

And let’s be honest, we never left high school. The more popular you are on social media (how many followers, re-tweets, etc), the more popular your brand is worldwide. More popularity equals more potential leads, conversions, or whatever your ultimate brand goal is. Once you are ready to start investing in paid social media, it is important to have a strong organic following to build off of.

Some cons of organic social media is that it is time-consuming, delivers results much slower, and oftentimes does not have very clear analytics of user-behavior.

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Paid Social Media

While organic social media’s goal is typically to spark Brand Awareness, paid social media can target a few more types of goals because of its increased range in audience size and targeting. When posting organically, you are essentially throwing a bunch of your eggs into one (or a few) tiny baskets that may or may not cushion your delicate eggs; your published content gets seen on your Follower’s news feeds (assuming the social media platform in question’s algorithm supports this) or in a trending hashtag search. Paid social media posts are part of a more detailed campaign that targets specific audiences based on gender, age, location, job title, and much much more so that your advertisement is being seen by the user most likely to make the purchase (or whatever conversion goal you have set). In this scenario, your ads are being placed into perfectly sculpted baskets that help nurture and protect your precious eggs. Another way to look at it, is that paid social media is your new and improved way of cold calling (except, much much warmer!).

CONVERSIONS: If your brand is service-based such as accounting, law, or an online eCommerce store, paid social media can be used to target consumers in your direct market area and promote a special discount or sale. These campaigns typically reach a more targeted audience through CPC (Cost-Per-Click) advertising than an organic campaign would. Platforms, such as Facebook, even allow you to create a custom audience based on the current visitors of your website who have visited pages or used specific links on your site. All of these factors help increase your conversions.

TARGETING: When reaching out to your target audience, paid social media can be used to target specific groups based on interests that are getting talked about the most right now. These topics can fluctuate depending on what’s trending, which is why paid social media is so powerful.

EARNED media: Because organic social media is free, it doesn’t earn you quite as many mentions or shares on social media outlets. However, when paid social media campaigns are executed with great content and an engaging campaign strategy, those paid social media ads can earn far more likes and retweets than your organic posts. This “Earned media” can be a great way to reach a larger audience with a specific message and create greater brand awareness for your organization.

CPC: One of the best things about paid social media is that it does not cost you much to acquire potential customers through your social media posts. CPC (Cost-Per-Click) advertising is a simple means of targeting specific groups based on gender, age, location, and interests similar to paid social media’s customization options. These ads allow you to set a budget for how much you want to pay per click. Since more traffic would mean more potential customers who buy, the CPC becomes less expensive as the campaign optimizes itself and will ultimately serve to increase your ROI. organic social media, on the other hand, is far tricker to track specific CPC leads.

QUICK RESULTS: One of the most valuable benefits of paid social media is that you can have a quick turnaround and see your results relatively quickly. With organic social media, while you may get some engagement in the form of new followers or likes, it takes time to build those numbers, however, with paid social media, the results are immediate. You can create a campaign and start seeing your results within hours. The only problem is that many people get excited about the quick results they’re seeing and they don’t track their long-term ROI. If you don’t track these long-term ROI’s (Return On Investment), your ads could end up costing too much money or not provide enough profit for it to be worth it in the end. This is why it is so important to PLAN PLAN PLAN!

Some cons of paid social media are: the costs (both immediate and in the long-run), and maintenance (it is important to keep measuring and testing your results to improve your targeting).

To conclude, there are both pros and cons of organic and paid social media. It is important to have both, as they often feed off of one another. While organic content is free to publish, paid content garners more measurable results. organic social media increases your Brand’s aesthetic and awareness, while paid social media amplifies it alongside possible leads and conversions. Organic social media helps you keep your current stakeholders informed and in constant communication, but paid social media helps you reach out to further audiences that you never knew you could possibly have!

Need help creating your organic and/or paid social media strategy? Contact Hudson Digital Group for a free social media audit to get started!

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Phone: 201.949.7662

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