Social Growth – Organic vs Paid

Social Growth – Organic vs Paid

When looking into ways to expand your social media reach, there are two main options open to you - Organic and Paid. In simple terms, organic reach refers to the number of people who see your posts, tweets and content without you paying for them to be boosted. Paid reach includes anyone who has seen you because you paid for promotions or advertising. Each has its own merits within a content strategy and each has its own strengths and weaknesses, but it can be difficult to know which direction to follow. Organic reach is achieved through content marketing which can include scheduled posts on your social media, writing blogs and sharing posts from others. A strong organic reach is achieved over time after slowly building up your followers, often through consistent engagement. By contrast, paid reach will have a greater chance of growing in far less time as a paid-for advert will be paraded in front of a captive audience on social media. Paid reach also gives you the opportunity to target the audience based on factors including profile and demographics. So, which one is best for your business? After all, if we can gain a strong base following through organic growth, albeit over time, what's the need to use paid social growth within your content strategy?

The pros of organic reach

  • Strong and far-reaching organic reach is vital to build lasting relationships with your audience. It is created over time, during which you can establish lucrative contacts, building a community of brand-loyal followers.
  • Organic reach allows you to interact with your customers over a prolonged period of time, which will build your brand in the long term, giving it longevity and staying power.
  • The follow on to building lasting relationships with your audience is that you can develop a strong customer support network around your brand followers. An effective customer support system will give you further insight and feedback, both vital to ongoing and sustained growth.
  • Organic reach will absolutely maintain your online presence – consistently new and relevant content will keep you visible and interesting. If you regularly visit a site or profile that never changes, you will soon lose interest!

The cons of organic reach

  • For many, the main disadvantage of organic reach is the lack of immediacy in its effectiveness – it takes time, sometimes a long time, to become truly effective. With algorithm changes on some platforms making it harder for posts to be seen, you may feel obliged to pay for your adverts in order to reach your audience.
  • Contrary to popular belief, organic reach does come with a price tag! Unless your skillset encompasses all aspects of good, diverse content (blog writing, video skills, photography…), you will need to budget for this. Fortunately, organic content can bring in new followers long after it has been paid for.
  • After a while, organic reach can start to plateau as your core audience becomes part of your following, decreasing the available pool of potential new followers and interactions.

The pros of paid reach

  • The most obvious pro here is that when you pay for advertising, you will reach a larger audience. With platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, this means that your quality content will be seen by a lot more people. This gives you a greater chance of interaction via comments, a greater chance of your content being shared, and the chance to develop a strong brand awareness.
  • Paid reach will give measurable results, fast. A paid advert can yield results almost as soon as it hits its audience, making it easy to analyse the effectiveness of your advert. In turn, this allows you to be reactive, giving you the chance to change keywords, images and even your target, tailoring your content for your specific business goals.
  • Paid reach can be direct or indirect. Direct paid reach is controlled by you, for example a Facebook advert. Indirect reach is achieved via a third party. An example of this is paying a social media influencer with, say, a massive Instagram following, to feature your product or mention your service as a shout out. Both types of direct reach yield easy to calculate results.

The cons of paid reach

  • The main disadvantage of paid reach is the potential cost involved. Although there are cost effective adverts available, it is essential to allocate a budget, no matter how small.
  • There is always an element of risk when money is involved with social reach. There are no guarantees that an increase in reach will lead to an increase in sales; if that is the objective of your campaign, be aware.
  • The effectiveness of paid reach can be temporary, so consistent monitoring is key in order to analyse the results before they disappear. This will take time that you may not have to spare.
  • Ironically, the potential scale of paid reach – often the objective - can be overwhelming, with the sheer volume of results being hard to respond to quickly.
  • On some social media platforms, a paid-for advert, targeted at specific groups, is labelled as ‘sponsored’ in the newsfeed. If these adverts hold no appeal, the obvious thing to do is scroll on by. However, many people view them as intrusive and annoying for interrupting them, which will have the effect of turning them off to you.

In summary, the most successful social media strategies will encompass both organic and paid reach, in a campaign that takes advantage of the individual merits of each. Organic reach is vital at the outset of your business, in order to build a solid and long-lasting client base, and it will form the cornerstone of your growth on social media. It will help you to maintain a consistent following, sustaining interest in the content you produce. Once your core following has been established, paid social growth can come into its own, by expanding your presence beyond your base audience. For example, a promoted tweet may appear on a timeline you wouldn’t normally reach and introduce you to an audience that may have an interest in your content/product but who haven’t found you through your organic growth to date.

At TJS we are often called upon to help clients to create a social media strategy, so if you want to create a presence on social media, or need to improve your existing presence, give us a call on 01507 525500.