Social media changes so quickly that it can be difficult to keep up with terminology and best practices. Often business owners and marketers are confused about the distinction and strategic balance between organic and paid social media. Understanding this is essential to creating a successful social media marketing strategy.  Organic and paid have distinct advantages but work best when implemented together. Every popular media outlet has paid and organic elements, but since Facebook is the largest social network (both in terms of users and advertisers) we will focus on that platform in this article.

Organic

Organic social media is anything that happens on social media without paid promotion. When you post as your page but don’t put any money behind this post to “boost” it, you are creating an organic post. If you comment on a business’s post in your news feed, and the “Sponsored” tag does not appear on the post, that action qualifies as organic. In other words, organic actions occur on non-ads.

Paid

Paid social media is anything influenced by advertising dollars spent. Any post in your news feed that has the “Sponsored” tag is paid. If you then “like” that post, that is considered a paid reaction. Paid social media includes boosted posts, ads optimized for clicks, lead generation forms, and video ads. Most importantly, it can be targeted by a variety of demographic and behavioral factors.

Why Do You Need Both?

Many page owners think that organic reach (the number of unique individuals who see your post pop up in their news feeds) is enough to make an impact. While this was true in the first few years of Facebook, it is no longer the case. Facebook, and many other social media networks, is truly a pay-to-play network because Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all on algorithmic feeds. This means posts are shown to the user based on past behavior and preferences instead of in chronological order. Organic posts from your Facebook page only reach about 2% of your followers, and that number is dropping.

Organic and paid social media—you shouldn’t have one without the other. A solid organic strategy improves your online presence and reputation, and a paid strategy increases your brand’s reach and awareness to targeted audiences. Managing both aspects of social media takes time and planning, but the results of a well-executed campaign are worth the effort. No time to handle it on your own? We’ve got you covered.