Organic vs. Paid Social Media: 5 of the Biggest Marketing Myths
With more than 2.1 billion users, social media is one of the largest markets the world has ever seen. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small e-commerce business selling handmade fashion accessories, a large corporation operating in multiple locations or a freelancer looking for gigs. Social media offers up plenty of real estate for you to use.
But, here’s the problem: social media moves at lightning speed. Facebook tweaks its algorithm constantly; Twitter updates its character limit; organic reach is shrinking (or is it?); Instagram turns into Snapchat, and the list can go on forever.
With so many changes happening almost overnight, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot of businesses have a difficult time understanding how they should use it. Perhaps the most important concept that needs clarification is the balance between organic and paid media.
With that in mind, let’s look at five of the most common myths about organic versus paid social media.
1. Organic Social Media Is More Effective Than Paid Media
We’ve heard a lot of small business owners say: “We will use social media for free exposure.” While that’s technically true, organically growing your social media presence is not as easy as most people would imagine. The fact is, organic reach is declining. If you’ve been managing a Facebook Page for awhile now, you may have noticed that your posts aren’t reaching as many people as before. Because the News Feed is becoming increasingly competitive, Facebook is trying show users the content that is the most relevant to them as opposed to content from pages that post frequently.
Right now, the organic reach for Facebook posts is as low as 2 percent, and the social media giant plans to reduce that percentage even more in the future. That means that for a Page with 100,000 likes, only 2,000 people will see your posts (based on the 2 percent figure.) That’s rough.
Paid media, on the other hand, has proven to be extremely effective for companies that are trying to grow and expand their reach through social media. In fact, about 60 percent of marketers believe paid social is more effective than organic, and 45 percent of them already plan to increase their social media budgets.
We’re not saying that you should ignore organic reach altogether. Instead, you should use a mix of both to maximize your chances. Keep in mind that growing a social media audience takes a lot of time, hard work, and hours of seemingly talking to no one.
2. Companies Use Either Organic or Paid Social Media
Wrong again! Of course, some small businesses or start-ups may not have the budget to afford paid social. Or maybe their data inventory is not big enough for paid campaigns to be successful. Other than that, approximately 86 percent of marketers use both organic and paid tactics as part of their social media marketing strategy. Both options play a major role in ensuring that you will reach the widest audience possible.
Organic social media is vital for building and nurturing relationships with both your current and potential customers. Everything from answering questions to responding to comments can help you build your reputation and establish yourself as a brand that cares about its customer’s needs. Paid social media, on the other hand, is essential for creating brand awareness and getting as many conversions as possible in the shortest amount of time.
However, you need to remember that even the biggest budget or perfectly segmented audience can’t work without organic content. Just put yourself in your audience’s shoes for a moment and imagine that you’ve come across a paid social media campaign that catches your eye. You click on the sponsored post and end up on the company’s profile. You scroll through their posts and notice that they barely have any content. You’re not able to learn anything about the company, so you just leave without taking any action.
The main takeaway: Use a mix of both organic and paid social for the best results.
3. Paid Media Is Earned Social Media
We have to disagree with people that claim paid social media is earned social media. Here’s why:
You pay to display your adverts or messages to social media users according to a user profile you choose beforehand. And paying for it does not mean you’ve earned it. Nobody denies its effectiveness — paid social media offers possibilities that can exceed your wildest dreams. But, when we’re talking about organic social media, we’re talking about building a community and fostering relationships with its members.
Through organic reach, you can learn about what your customers think and say about you. However, this will require hard work and perseverance on your part, since results can take a long time to show.
4. Paid Social Media Is Not Authentic
Another misconception people have about paid social media is that because it lacks authenticity it is not as effective as organic social media.
The truth of the matter is that sponsored posts target a specific audience and provides them with a clear solution to their problems. That eliminates the need for extensive research. So, yes, paid media is less genuine than organic social media, but that doesn’t necessarily put it at a disadvantage. The former is effective and straight to the point (you have a problem, here’s the solution,) while the latter focuses more on nurturing and building long-term relationships.
5. Only Paid Social Media Will Generate Quality Leads
With organic social media being associated more with brand awareness, it’s understandable why some people would think that paid media is more effective at capturing quality leads.
However, they ignore an essential trait of organic social media: the fact that it enables you to listen to your audience. Sure, it’s more time-consuming, but monitoring brand mentions can help you understand what people like or dislike about your products/services. With this valuable information at hand, you can tweak and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly.
Social media can feel a bit intimidating, especially if you’re just now embarking on this journey. There are so many platforms, and things change so fast that if you blink once you may find yourself left behind. Be vigilant, keep an open eye for new trends, and stay away from these myths.