Weighing up whether to use paid social ads or organic posts in your strategy is a bit like comparing apples to oranges. The reality of the situation is you need to adopt a hybrid approach for maximum effect, harnessing the power of both elements to achieve differing goals.
Balancing awareness with conversion
Two significant things happened in 2021 that had a particular impact on social media strategies. The first was, of course, the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in a global increase in the use of social media as people stayed at home. The second was a series of updates from the likes of Apple, leading to targeting limitations on some social sites.
This has left many marketing managers in need of reviewing their strategies. Despite a seemingly big shift towards paid social ads, there’s a strong case for not diverting all of your resources into this area but continuing with a certain amount of organic posts.
The benefits of organic content
Posting organic content is all about nurturing a connection with your audience and attracting awareness to your brand. Not only will a proportion of your followers see it, but this can be extended to their followers if they choose to share or like it. Following best practices for using hashtags will also allow you to reach a wider audience.
When posting organically to social media, it’s important to keep your reasons for doing so at the forefront of your mind. This will ensure they all work together cohesively to achieve your goals, which may include:
- Establishing your brand’s personality
- Building a relationship with your audience
- Engaging customers at each stage of the buying journey
- Offering quality customer service
The benefits of paid social ads
Paying for advertising on the likes of Facebook and Twitter allows brands to access new audiences in a targeted way. The social media platforms’ algorithms work to understand which users could potentially be interested in content and make sure it’s in front of them.
With more people than ever shopping online through ecommerce or social media stores, paid ads perform a particularly vital role for brands. Carefully designed posts are no longer being viewed as a disruption to the experience but an integral part of it. They can be used to:
- Increase brand awareness and attract new followers
- Promote new deals, events or quality content
- Generate leads
- Drive sales
Using paid and organic strategies to work together
While organic posts and paid ads perform different roles, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can reuse organic posts as paid ads by boosting them, as long as the quality of the content warrants it. This can be a good strategy if you’ve had a strong response from a particular item that was originally part of your organic strategy.
Getting the balance right with a good mix of paid and organic posts will help you reach new customers and retain those you’ve already attracted. Make your marketing dollars go further by testing content organically before putting budget behind it in a campaign.
Key principles to remember for a successful hybrid approach
When designing a hybrid strategy, there are some key learnings you should keep in mind:
Only pay for ads when necessary
All paid social ads should be used to achieve your business goals and while they can help you with your KPIs, sometimes an organic post can also do the job. Creating content that existing followers want to share can build a buzz on a topic without spending the budget on promotion.
Don’t skip split testing
Carry out A/B testing on all elements of your ad before rolling it out to a large audience. Trial the CTA, the copywriting, the visuals, and the placement, format, and the audience targeting of the ad to optimize your post and get the best ROI. Not only does putting in this prep make it cheaper for you, but it will also result in a better experience for your potential customers.
Use your organic audience to inform your targeting
The data you’ve collected on the organic audience you’ve already grown can help inform the type of follower you’d like to attract through paid advertising. Identify demographics and the pain points your brand can help with to build ads that will perform well and be worth the spend.
Connect to your organic audience with retargeting ads
Retargeting your organic followers can be highly effective, as these are individuals who are already aware of your business. They may have viewed your profile, posts or website before and may have abandoned a shopping cart, so reminding them of your products and services could prompt them into buying from you.
Pay attention to your analytics
Never ignore the analytics on either organic or paid posts, as this data will help you to determine what’s working and refine your methods. The social media landscape is always changing and you need to be dynamic to ensure you’re leaning into the trends and adjusting your approaches accordingly.