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What's Better - Organic or Paid Ads?

A person looking at statistical data for organic and paid ads

Success, whether in life or on social media, demands a well-thought-out game plan. Having a solid strategy is key.

There are essentially two ways to go about your social media strategies: paid or organic. Now, you might be wondering, well, which one should I adopt?

To cut it short, it's not about choosing between organic or paid; it's about embracing both.

Yes, that’s right. For the best results without burning a hole in your pocket, a mix of paid and organic social media is the way to go!

While some may argue that "organic social is dead" because you often need to pay to get noticed. But that's not entirely true. Even though organic social media isn't as powerful as before, it's still very much alive.

In this article, we'll dive into what's good about both organic and paid approaches and how combining them gives you the most value for your money.

What Is Organic Content?

A person navigating their laptop with mouse, most likely posting an organic ad

Organic content refers to posting content without paying for it. It works best for growing your social media accounts and nurturing leads.

When you post organic content, the audience that sees it typically includes:

  1. Your followers, otherwise known as your 'organic reach.'

  2. Followers of your followers, if they decide to share your post.

  3. Individuals who are interested in what you offer as a brand (On explore feeds, FYPs, etc)

While it may seem simple, the importance of organic social media today is its power to build a real connection with your audience.

For instance, brands leverage organic content to:

  1. Establish a distinctive personality and voice.

  2. Cultivate relationships by sharing informative, entertaining, or inspiring content.

  3. Engage customers at various stages of their purchasing journey.

  4. Provide customer support and assistance.

Pros of Organic Content

Authenticity: Organic content allows for a more genuine and authentic connection with your audience. It's often seen as more trustworthy because it's not directly tied to advertising.

Cost-Effective: Creating and sharing organic content is generally less expensive than paid advertising. It can be a budget-friendly way to establish an online presence.

Long-Term Value: Well-crafted organic content has the potential for long-term visibility. It can continue to attract attention and engagement over time, contributing to sustained brand awareness.

Community Building: Organic content is an effective tool for building a community around your brand. It fosters engagement, conversation, and a sense of belonging among your audience.

SEO Benefits: Search engines often favour high-quality, relevant organic content. Regularly updating your website or social media with valuable content can positively impact your search engine rankings.

Cons of Organic Content

Time-Consuming: Developing and maintaining a strong organic presence requires consistent effort and time. It might take a while before you see significant results.

Limited Reach: Organic content's reach is dependent on your existing audience and how shareable your content is. It may not reach as many people as quickly as paid promotions can.

Algorithm Changes: Social media algorithms frequently change, affecting the visibility of organic content. What worked well in the past might not be as effective in the future.

Competition: With the vast amount of content available online, standing out organically can be challenging. It requires creativity and a deep understanding of your target audience.

Difficult Measurement: Measuring the success of organic content can be more challenging than tracking paid campaigns. It's often harder to attribute specific outcomes directly to organic efforts.

What Is Paid Content?

A pink piggybank with some coins around it

Paid social media is basically just advertising, where brands invest money in platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and others to share their content with specific, targeted audiences likely to be interested. This can involve boosting organic content or coming up with ads solely for paid marketing strategies.

Using a paid strategy, you can surpass algorithm limitations and ensure your content reaches your desired audience. Instead of getting lost among other posts, ads place your content right at the forefront of people's feeds.

Internet users now spend more time on social media than ever before, totaling 151 minutes per day. Users not only spend more time on social media but have also become increasingly comfortable with online shopping through ecommerce or social media stores.

Plus, now with TikTok and Insta Shop, users can make purchases without even leaving the app or site, eliminating an extra step.This shift makes ads blend in better with the social media experience, especially if they're well-designed.

Paid posts, more than organic content, prove to be the most effective method for brands to reach fresh audiences on social media and turn them into customers. Businesses and organizations leverage paid promotion on social media to:

  1. Boost brand awareness and gain new followers.

  2. Highlight their latest promotions, content, events, and more.

  3. Generate leads.

  4. Encourage conversions, including e-commerce sales.

Pros of Paid Content

Targeted Reach: Paid content allows for precise audience targeting, ensuring that your message reaches the right people based on demographics, interests, and behaviors.

Quick Visibility: Unlike organic content that may take time to gain traction, paid content provides immediate visibility. It can be especially useful for time-sensitive promotions or events.

Enhanced Analytics: Paid platforms often offer detailed analytics, providing insights into the performance of your content. This data can be valuable for refining your strategy and understanding audience behavior.

Customization Options: With paid advertising, you have the flexibility to customize your content and messaging to align with specific campaign goals, whether it's brand awareness, lead generation, or conversions.

Competitive Edge: In a crowded digital space, paid content can give you a competitive edge, ensuring that your brand stands out amidst the sea of information.

Cons of Paid Content

Cost: One of the primary drawbacks is the cost associated with paid content. Advertising budgets can add up, and there's no guarantee of a direct return on investment.

Ad Fatigue: Overexposure to the same paid content can lead to ad fatigue among your audience, diminishing its effectiveness over time. Creativity and variety are essential to combat this.

Limited Long-Term Impact: While paid content provides quick results, its long-term impact may be limited compared to the lasting effects of organic strategies that build a genuine audience over time.

Dependence on Platforms: Paid content is subject to changes in algorithms and policies of the platforms where it is promoted. Shifts in these algorithms can affect the reach and performance of your paid campaigns.

Trust Concerns: Some users may be wary of paid content, perceiving it as less authentic compared to organic posts. Gaining trust can be tough in paid strategies.

How to Formulate a Strategy That Blends Both Organic and Paid Advertising?

A man working in a cafe with a cup of orange juice beside him

Now that you understand how paid and regular social media operate individually, let's explore how they can work together.

Here are six ways to merge your paid and regular strategies for better results.

Not All Posts Needs To Be Paid Ads

Let's make it simple: you don't always have to spend money on promoting your posts. Save your advertising dollars for when it makes sense for your goals. Ads aren't the only solution on social media—don't underestimate the impact of a well-crafted post that people willingly share.

Take, for example, when you're announcing something new, like a partnership or a product/service upgrade, an organic post can create a buzz by itself. Just make sure it’s eye-catching and engaging!

Use your social media data to figure out which posts could work as ads, but not all top-performing posts need to be promoted. Focus on posts that match your marketing and business goals when deciding where to spend extra money. If you're aiming to get more sign-ups for an event, it makes sense to promote a big agenda reveal or a last call for tickets.

On the other hand, if you're trying to get your brand out there or show off a new product, stick to your regular social media tools. It's all about finding the right mix of paid ads and organic content to reach your goals.

Give Your Top Performing Organic Content a Boost

If you've got a piece of content that's performing exceptionally well or going viral, it could be prime material for an ad. You can easily turn a Facebook post into a promotion with just a few clicks.

This move is often seen as a beginner's move because it's low-risk—you don't need a full-blown ad, just a post that's already a hit. Many social media experts will tell you that when they see a post doing well, it's time to consider giving it a little boost with some spending.

Checking your social analytics is the starting point for any successful paid ad. Set aside a small budget for your top post of the week or month when you check your analytics.

PRO TIP: Look beyond just likes; pay attention to conversions, profile views, and more.

Use A/B Testing

A/B testing on social media can give you valuable insights into what resonates with your audience.

Before you go all-in with your entire social media budget on an ad, try out different versions on a smaller audience to gauge its effectiveness. Test things like your call-to-action, the wording, visuals, where the ad appears, its format, and even who sees it based on demographics like age and location.

Just keep in mind: to get meaningful results, you need a decent-sized audience.

Think about it: Trying out creative content organically with a small audience won't give you the data you need for statistically significant results. Paid options, on the other hand, can give your post the reach it needs to confirm or challenge a hypothesis.

You can also use these findings to shape your organic strategy moving forward.

Craft Ads for Your Lookalike Audience

If you've spent some time building up your social media presence without paid ads, you probably learned a lot about your ideal customers. Where do they reside? What's their age group? What captures their interest? What challenges do they face? And how do you assist them?

Use all this info when you're boosting your ads. This is where all the time you've spent connecting with your audience pays off.

For instance, on most social media platforms, you can make a "lookalike audience" based on your best customers. These might be the people who subscribed to your newsletter, interacted with your posts, or bought something from you recently. A lookalike audience is made up of people who are a lot like your usual customers but haven't heard of your brand yet.

Leverage Retargeting Ads

Did you know that reaching retargeted users costs 8 times less per click? Retargeting campaigns can pack a punch without breaking the bank since you're reconnecting with people already familiar with your business.

These are often individuals who found you through social media or your website.They might have checked out your profile, visited your website, or left items in their shopping cart.

The goal is simple: give them a nudge to return and make a purchase, and the right ad can do the trick.

Regularly Monitor Your Data

When a campaign isn't hitting the mark, be it an organic post or a paid ad, it's not a great experience. However, your social media tools can give you insights into what's happening and where you can make improvements.

By looking at all your social media activities together, you can quickly tweak things in your ongoing campaigns based on the data. This helps you make the most of your budget.

For instance, if an ad is performing really well on Facebook, you can put more money into it. On the other hand, if a campaign isn't doing well, you can pause it and allocate the budget somewhere else.

Final Words

Rather than pitting "organic versus paid social media" against each other, explore ways in which these strategies can work together.

By combining both strategies, you can uncover the best formula for achieving successful results for your brand. Integrating both approaches allows you to leverage their individual strengths and enhance your brand's overall success.


Well, aren’t we glad you asked! We at DigiCom are obsessive data-driven marketers pulling from multi-disciplinary strategies to unlock scale. We buy media across all platforms and placements and provide creative solutions alongside content creation, and conversion rate optimizations. We pride ourselves on your successes and will stop at nothing to help you grow.


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