How to Best Navigate the Question of Organic vs Paid Social Media
Analytics & Reporting

How to Best Navigate the Question of Organic vs Paid Social Media

Dorien Morin-van Dam
Dorien Morin-van Dam
Table of Contents

If you had to choose one, organic social media vs paid social media, what would be your first choice? If you think this is a trick question, you are right!

Lucky for us, none of us have to choose to pick one over the other!
The answer is rather simple. It’s not organic vs. paid social media, but rather organic plus paid social media.

Everything you need to know about organic vs paid social media

  1. The ongoing debate between organic social media vs paid social media
  2. Organic social media: powerful content and authentic engagement
  3. Paid social media: rapid reach and precision targeting
  4. A dual approach: one type of media doesn't replace the other
  5. Paid vs. organic social media: how to excel with an integrated approach
  6. Tips for merging organic and paid strategies
  7. Monitoring the combined impact on your brand
  8. Challenges to consider: potential pitfalls and how to avoid them

1. The ongoing debate between organic social media vs paid social media

In this article, we will take a closer look at organic vs. paid social media. You will learn how organic social media and paid social media differ and how they can work together beautifully to power up your overall content strategy effectiveness.

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“A strong marketing strategy will incorporate both organic and paid media.”

Sidenote: Digital marketers most likely will choose paid media over organic, while content marketers likely will pick the opposite and go all in on organic social media if they had to pick one over the other.

2. Organic social media: powerful content and authentic engagement

There is incredible power in organic social media. In case you are wondering or heard some rumors, organic social media isn’t dead! Not by a long shot!

Organic social is more than posting content and hoping for the best. There is strategy involved in making it work.

An organic social media strategy starts with goals and objectives and then moves on to buyer personas, before diving into a content strategy.

Organic social media is about responding to and engaging with an audience. It is about sharing valuable content and fostering relationships that are genuine and rooted in authenticity.

It's a slow burn, sure, but the benefits? Immense.

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“An organic social media strategy helps in establishing long-term trust.”

As any seasoned marketer knows, trust is the cornerstone of any lasting relationship between a brand and its audience.

There is something truly magical about organic social media and its ability to build a community.

A community where conversations flow, where feedback is immediate, and where loyalty isn't just a buzzword but a reality.

People who engage with a brand organically want to be part of a community because the voice, values, and message resonate with them. A community of fans are not just passive followers. They, over time, will become brand advocates.

In digital marketing, where instant results often take center stage, it's essential to remember that some of the most valuable connections take time to cultivate. And that's the beauty of organic social media. It's a testament to the idea that genuine effort, consistency, and authenticity can lead to a thriving and loyal digital community.

3. Paid social media: rapid reach and precision targeting

While organic social media plays the long game, paid social media is a fast-paced beast.  Picture dollar signs and ad budgets; now you're on the right track.

That’s not all, though.

Paid social media, much like organic social media, is not for the faint of heart. It takes skill, precision, an analytical mind, and lots of skill to be successful.

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“Anyone can run ads. Not everyone can get amazing results”

Therefore it’s safe to say paid media is so much more than throwing money at ads.

Paid media is about strategy, precision, and getting a huge bang for your buck.

Paid advertising gives brands superpowers. It allows brands to grab a spotlight in front of the person who's most likely to love what they are offering.

With the right investment (aka budget), brands no longer have to shout into the void, hoping someone will hear them. Instead, brands can specifically target those who matter most to their brand and bottom line.

One of the main benefits of going the paid route - vs. organic - is the undeniable instant visibility boost. Content no longer has the potential to get lost in the act of endless scrolling.

And the best part?

Paid media works well with other types of content. Paid campaigns can work harmoniously with organic efforts, amplifying the impact. Ready to learn how and why? That’s up next!

4. A dual approach: one type of media doesn't replace the other

Marketers are often told to ‘niche down’ and do it quickly to make it in this industry. While some choose organic, others are more attracted to the fast-paced paid media work environment.

Have you felt the need to choose? Guess what, we don’t if we don’t want to!

All marketing professionals should have a general understanding how organic and paid media work and how they can work together!

Think of organic content as the garden that grows and produces over a long period of time and paid campaigns as the place to get veggies when you need them, stat. Together, a garden and a grocery store form an unbeatable duo for those who like…veggies..

Organic content sets the stage, giving the audience a glimpse into what the brand stands for and what is to be expected. It is the very heart and soul of a brand, providing authenticity and fostering genuine connections.

Paid efforts which take everything up a notch, ensure the brand’s voice reaches far and wide. Most importantly, it provides a clear and direct path for brand message to reach those who truly matter: the exact target audience.

It's a common misconception, even among marketers, to view these paid vs organic as rivals vying for the top spot. In reality, they are essential to each other’s survival, amplifying the other's strengths.

Paid media makes organic content strategy stronger, and an organic social media strategy gives paid media campaigns the credibility it deserves!

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“It is not about choosing one over the other. It's about recognizing the unique strengths each brings to the table and leveraging them in tandem.”

When both strategies are used competently, the outcome is always going to be better in comparison to using only one of these.

5. Paid vs. organic social media: how to excel with an integrated approach

When considering the integration of paid and organic strategies, it's essential first to understand all overarching marketing goals. Those should be an extension of the overall business goals.

Instead of setting goals in a silo as a marketing team, it is vital to reach out to the C-suite to align all goals.

Marketing goals could include brand awareness, lead generation, or conversions. Objectives will dictate the balance between organic and paid efforts.

Part of your integrated strategy is the ability for content amplification.

If a particular organic post performs exceptionally well, promote it with a paid boost to maximize its reach. Conversely, user engagement and feedback from paid campaigns can offer valuable insights for shaping your future organic content strategy.

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“If the organic team and paid team work closely together, organic media and paid media can be a beautiful symbiotic relationship!”

How does it work? That’s up next!

6. Tips for merging organic and paid strategies

Both the organic and paid teams need to be in sync, understanding each other's moves, and responding accordingly.

Here's how a brand can effectively blend paid and organic for optimal results:

  • Clear communication: Teams handling organic and paid strategies need to communicate regularly. Weekly or bi-weekly meetings ensure that both are aligned in terms of content calendars, promotions, and messaging.

  • Shared goals: Both strategies should have a common endgame. Whether it's boosting brand awareness, driving sales, or gathering leads, having shared objectives ensures everyone is pulling in the same direction.

  • Data sharing: One of the biggest advantages of merging these strategies is the wealth of data at your disposal. Organic campaigns can benefit from insights gained from paid analytics, and vice versa. Sharing these insights can lead to better audience targeting and improved content resonance.

  • Buy-in from the C-suite: In order for organic and paid to work together, senior leadership must recognize the value of an integrated approach. Their support can provide the resources and tools necessary for teams to collaborate effectively.

  • Cross-skilled team members: Teams who employ team members skilled in both organic and paid strategies have a clear advantage. Their unique perspective can bridge gaps and offer insights that a segmented team might overlook. If not, consider investing in training. The ability to understand both domains can be an invaluable asset.

  • Audience segmentation and content type: While organic content often aims to engage existing followers and build brand loyalty, paid content targets specific audience segments. By identifying which content resonates with which audience maximum engagement can be reached.

  • Review campaign goals regularly: It is essential to revisit and refine all goals. This iterative process ensures the brand is in tune with its audience's needs and the ever-changing social media landscape.

By fostering a culture of collaboration between the organic and paid media teams, brands can harness the full power of both, delivering a cohesive and impactful digital presence.

7. Monitoring the combined impact on your brand

Monitoring the impact of combined organic and paid strategies for a brand is as easy as 1-2-3 with Socialinsider.

Here you can see how to get started with Socialinsider's reporting process.

We recommend automating reporting for your content and ads.

Here you can see how you can schedule a report in Socialinsider's dashboard.

Autoreporting is easy to set up. Monitor your posts, profile, brand and yes, your ads!

This is an example of the social media autoreports you can get with Socialinsider

Next, choose the frequency of the reports sent to you.

Here is a screen from Socialinsider's dashboard showing how to schedule a social media report.

Include both the organic and the paid team in the automated emails for transparency.

Team meetings will be much more efficient once everyone is on the same page with regard to data!


8. Challenges to consider: potential pitfalls and how to avoid them

While the rewards are considerable, there are potential pitfalls that businesses must be aware of when deploying both organic and paid strategies.

  • Inconsistent messaging: Avoid a disjointed voice or messaging between organic and paid content. This can confuse any audience and dilute the brand's essence.
    Solution: Regularly review and align content calendars and campaigns. Ensure that both teams are on the same page regarding the brand's voice and key messaging.

  • Over-reliance on one strategy: It's easy to lean heavily into one approach, especially if it's yielding immediate results. However, this can result in neglecting the other, causing missed opportunities.
    Solution: Regularly evaluate the balance between organic and paid efforts. Remember, both have unique strengths and should complement each other.

  • Budget misallocation: Without clear communication and shared objectives, funds might drain ineffective paid campaigns while organic efforts starve. Solution: Establish clear budget guidelines and ensure that both teams are transparent about their spending and results.

  • Ignoring data insights: Data from both organic and paid strategies can offer invaluable insights. Overlooking this information can lead to missed optimization opportunities. Solution: Create a system for sharing and analyzing data across teams. Use these insights to refine strategies and improve results continually.

Stay vigilant and proactive to successfully navigate a merged strategic approach and reap maximum rewards.

Final thoughts

Whether you are in the ‘organic all the way’ or ‘paid is the way to go’ camp, we hope this article has given you some food for thought.

Our intention is to widen your horizon, by providing a new way to think and strategize about social media. We encourage you to use everything in your wheelhouse, and then some, to give the brand you represent the best possible outcome, consistently.

Blending an organic and paid strategy and working closely with the ‘other’ team allows for new growth, new possibilities, new goals, and incredible results.

Dorien Morin-van Dam

Dorien Morin-van Dam

Vermont, USA

Dorien Morin-van Dam is an expert organic and content marketer. As a Certified Social Media Manager and Agile Marketer, she is well-versed in driving results through organic social media.

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