These days, having a social media presence for your business is just as important as having a website.With demand for content forever increasing, there is now an expectation for brands to be consistently active on social media.

As the space continues to grow, becoming part of our everyday lives more and more, you need to consider how it fits within your overall digital marketing mix. Social media is one of the only digital platforms that allows you to engage directly with your market, enabling you to forge connections with existing and potential customers.

Each social network offers different ways to serve content to different types of audiences, and you need to identify which channels are most suitable for your business.For B2B offerings, LinkedIn is a clear path to pursue, while visually driven products and experiences will likely find their place on Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube. Once you have established the social media platforms that will be most effective for your brand, you need to decide whether you will take a paid or organic approach, or perhaps a combination of both

During this decision-making process, you’ll need to refer back to your business objectives and determine what you’re looking to achieve in order to establish the role social media will play in your digital marketing strategy. Think of it like completing a Sudoku square; you can’t start the game without having the first three numbers, as this will set your direction and guide your approach.

By putting your business goals down on paper, you will be able to identify which social media tactics will be best to apply moving forward.

To help you take the next step, let’s look at the key differences between paid and organic social and how to take advantage of these opportunities.

The breakdown on paid social

As the name tends to suggest, paid social is a form of digital advertising that allows you to deliver key messages to users that fulfil set criteria. No matter which social media channel you choose, you will be provided with options to help narrow down your audience, enabling you to target users by age, location, interests and many other factors.

The aim is to ensure your ad is only reaching relevant users who will be likely to take action based on the information you have provided. Using copy, imagery, video and animations, you can craft a compelling message that will resonate with your target audience. By including a clear call to action, you can communicate what you would like them to do next.

It could be to click through to your website, perform a transaction or confirm their attendance to an event. When building your paid media campaign, you will need to set an advertising budget that will in turn impact how many users within your target audience will see your ad (reach) and how often they see it (impressions).

When to take the paid path

By using paid social, you can take a highly strategic and direct approach toward achieving a key objective, with the ability to continually tweak your ads and optimise your campaigns based on performance.

If you are pursuing a specific metric or numerical goal, paid social can be a very effective strategy. For instance, if you need to capture a certain number of leads to generate sufficient sales to reach your revenue targets, then you will need the level of control that paid social can provide.

As social media platforms are constantly looking for ways to make their offering more profitable, your organic reach – or the number of users who will see your content for free – will always be limited. With paid social, you are quite literally paying the networks to increase your reach, ensuring your message can be seen by as users as possible.

At the same time, it’s important to note that a bigger budget will not automatically equate to better results. Much like Google, the social media platforms are driven by the desire to provide their users with the best possible experience, meaning the quality and relevancy of your content will also affect how well your campaign performs.

For your paid media campaigns to be truly successful, your efforts will need to be supported by a strong organic social presence.

How does organic social stack up?

Your organic social media is comprised of all the content that you post to your profile, including your bio, photos, videos, blogs, stories and more. While you can certainly ‘boost’ or ‘sponsor’ your posts to help increase reach, the aim of organic social is to create content that will naturally gain traction over time.

By gradually building momentum, you will raise awareness for your brand and your offering, while drawing interest from your audience. Like dangling a carrot in front of a horse, each post should entice users to your profile where they can choose to follow your brand and engage with your posts.

As you will not be able to directly control who sees your content, it’s vital to take a consistent approach to continually provide information to the network algorithm and reach relevant users. The key is to create content that either provides entertainment or valuable information that will lead users to engage with your post, as the more likes, reactions and comments you receive, the more your content will be seen.

As organic social is all about brand building and content distribution, it can be used to;

  • Raise brand awareness
  • Communicate brand personality
  • Reach new audiences
  • Nurture potential customers
  • Foster the loyalty of existing customers

Paid vs. organic

Where paid social directly advertises your products and services to potential customers, organic social is more of a gentle wave or a subtle nod that encourages users to go and explore further if they wish.

If you were to compare the two to an in-store shopping experience, organic social represents the impression the customer receives when walking past the shop front. The way it looks and feels will impact whether they decide to set foot in the store.

Paid social, on the other hand, is the salesman or woman who tries to influence the customer and close the deal. One helps to set up the shot, the other makes the slam dunk – you get the idea. Keeping with the sporting theme, consider this; no team ever made it to victory without a strong midfield, but it’s often the goal scorer who gets all the glory and the credit for the win.

The dynamic between organic and paid social is very similar, with the former often overlooked for its value, however, a team effort is required if you want to make the most of your social media presence.

Why don’t we have both?

Picture this scenario; a potential customer sees you advertising on social media for the first time. They aren’t familiar with your brand, but they’re interested in your offer and they want to know more. It’s likely they’ll click through to your website and read through a few pages to gauge whether they’re prepared to engage with your business.

It’s also just as likely that they’ll click through to your social media profiles and scroll through your content to determine whether your business is;

  • Trustworthy
  • Professional
  • Knowledgeable
  • Experienced
  • Reliable
  • Capable

As the quality and consistency of your organic social content will leave an impression on them, it’s important to showcase your business in the best possible light and build confidence in your capabilities. At the same time, you need to express the personality of your brand to connect with potential customers on an emotional level.

While logic and reason play a part in purchasing decisions, our hearts usually rule our heads, with emotions taking the wheel more than we would probably care to admit. If the user relates to your content, appreciates the themes and concepts that you communicate, admires your aesthetic style and finds inspiration in what you post, then they will start to build a meaningful relationship with your brand.

Your organic social content is also an opportunity to provide existing and potential customers with an ‘inside look’ into who you are, what you do and how you do it, adding a human touch to your brand that will further strengthen the perception of your business. By backing up your paid campaigns with strategic organic content, you will be able to take full advantage of the power of social media.

Let’s get social

If you’re still wondering whether you should be using organic social, paid social or an integrated approach, have a chat with our digital experts.

We can work closely with your team to devise an effective strategy that’s tailored to your unique business objectives. To get your social media on the right track, contact Distl today.

Get in touch!

Simon Du

Digital Account Manager

Alistair Hinchliffe

SEO Specialist