organic vs paid social media: a hybrid strategy

The significance of social media for businesses is undeniable. What once started as a platform for personal entertainment and online socialisation has rapidly evolved into one of the most prevalent and powerful marketing tools accessible to businesses today.

Crafting a well-rounded social media strategy involves companies harnessing the potential of both paid and organic social media marketing tactics. In this article, we discuss the benefits of both methods and why it’s important to integrate the two.

What is organic social media?

Organic social media refers to any content that is shared to a social media channel without spending any money to increase reach or conversions. The visibility of organic content depends on how many of your followers engage with it, and it can spread further if they share, like, or comment on your posts. As a brand, when you post organically to your account, you can expect that the people who will see it are:

  • A percentage of your followers (a.k.a. your ‘organic reach’)
  • Your followers’ followers (if people choose to share your post)
  • People following any hashtags you use

However, due to the implementation of ranking algorithms on all major platforms, only a fraction of your followers will be exposed to your organic posts. Take, for example, the average organic reach of a Facebook post, which hovers around 5.5% of your total follower count. For bigger brands with a larger following, this percentage is often even smaller.

Over the past few years, declining organic reach has become an undeniable reality as the world’s major social media platforms approach saturation, attention spans shrink, and platform CEOs prioritise “meaningful” or “responsible” user experiences. It has become exceedingly challenging to get your brand’s content seen by your existing audience, let alone attract new eyes.

Enter the hero of the hour: paid social media.

What is paid social media?

Paid social media, also known as social media advertising, involves brands investing money in platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and others to share their content with carefully targeted audiences who are likely to be interested. This can be achieved by “boosting” their organic content or creating bespoke advertisements tailored to their marketing objectives.

By running social ads, you break free from the constraints of algorithms and unlock the power to reach your precise target audience. Instead of getting lost among competing content, ads position your brand front and centre in people’s feeds, ensuring maximum visibility and engagement.

What are the benefits of organic social?

It’s cost-effective

If you have a limited marketing budget, organic content can help you reach audiences without a large advertising spend. However, it does require time and resources to build your brand and engage your audience constantly.

Support and retain existing customers

Social media acts as an immediate connection to your consumers and followers, enabling personal interactions with them. Embracing organic social media actions, such as addressing queries, responding to feedback, and sharing valuable insights, becomes a potent way to communicate with your audience, resolve issues, and foster trust. Through genuine engagement, you build a strong bond with your customers, strengthening your brand’s credibility and loyalty.

Gain trust

By showcasing industry expertise through thought-provoking articles, success stories, and insightful content, businesses can position themselves as authoritative voices and trusted advisors within their field. Integrating such valuable pieces into their social media strategy empowers brands to provide an honest glimpse into their organization, fostering authentic connections with their audiences. These non-paid updates create a sense of camaraderie, making customers feel genuinely linked to the brand and building a foundation of trust.

What are the benefits of paid social?

Reach a larger number of people

With paid social media marketing, you can extend your reach to target customers beyond the scope of organic methods. It’s like casting a wider net into the digital ocean, capturing potential customers who might have otherwise been out of reach. This broader visibility becomes a powerful tool for attracting new consumers and steadily growing your social media following.

It can be customised to retarget consumers

Numerous platforms, like Facebook, offer the fantastic capability to tailor your ads according to consumer behaviour. For instance, if a user visits a specific webpage or shows interest in a particular product, you can precisely target them with relevant ads based on their previous experience. This ingenious approach allows you to retarget potential customers effectively, guiding them into your purchasing funnel with personalized content and increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Increased brand awareness

With paid social media campaigns, you can boost your brand awareness among both new and existing customers. Each time someone encounters your ad, your brand takes centre stage in their minds. By delivering valuable content through your paid social media advertisements, you not only increase consumer trust but also enhance overall brand awareness, leaving a lasting impression on your audience.


In the world of social media marketing, it’s no longer a matter of choosing between paid social and organic social. Instead, successful approaches blend the power of both strategies. As organic reach steadily declines across various platforms, investing in paid social opportunities becomes essential to broaden your audience’s reach. Relying solely on organic reach is unfortunately now more of a dream than a reality in the evolution of social media.

However, to avoid depleting your entire budget on paid social, organic social remains a crucial component for sustained success. Despite the decline in organic reach, the benefits of organic social remain significant. It offers an incredible chance to promote your company and products for free, reaching a devoted audience while expanding your network through social sharing. By focusing on adding value rather than bombarding audiences with constant sales pitches, you can retain your fans’ loyalty and keep them engaged with your brand.

Maximise your marketing budget by utilising organic social and other marketing efforts to gauge the popularity of your content with your audience before turning it into a promotion. Rather than spending time experimenting with your paid social campaigns, use organic social, email campaigns, and other cost-effective methods to test content ideas, and then employ the successful ones for your paid social ads and promotions. Remember to track and analyse analytics for both paid and organic social posts to determine the most effective posting days and times.

By combining the strengths of organic and paid social media strategies, you can craft a well-rounded and efficient approach that not only enhances your reach but also resonates with your target audience, maximising the impact of your marketing efforts.

If your business needs help integrating organic and paid social media as part of your marketing strategy, get in touch.

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