Social Marketing

The Difference Between Organic and Paid Social

Habanero Garden by Garrett Heath via Flickr CC

It’s important to understand the distinctions between organic and paid components when it comes to social marketing. This might be a basic topic for Digital Marketers, but I’ve often found myself having to explain the differences to other people in the marketing org.

Organic social marketing posts are the status updates that are publicly accessible on the different social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. What’s beautiful is that these posts don’t cost anything to get your message out to the market. Most people are familiar with this flavor of social marketing because they tweet or post to Facebook themselves.

However, the unfortunate side of things is that (1) social platforms are saturated and your message is very unlikely to be seen (particularly on Facebook and Twitter—LinkedIn has a longer social “shelf life”) and (2) the social platform algorithms don’t show everything to everyone and tend to reward more-likely-to-be-read content (read: fluffy content that generates clicks). So when our B2B tech post about the “Best Practices for AWS” is competing against stories like the “7 Top Cutest Cats Playing Oregon Trail on an Apple IIe,” you can probably guess what stories are shown to end-users.

Money - Savings by 401(K) Savings via Flickr CC
Gotta use that money, money to get your message out on social media. Photo by 401(K) Savings via Flickr CC.

This is why paid social marketing is so important. It allows our content to be seen on social media platforms. And while it often carries the “Sponsored” or “Promoted” tag, our targeting should allow that the stories are placed in front of the right audience. This ensures that the people who may care about those best practices for AWS see the article.

Brands trying to play the “organic only” strategy on social are probably pursuing a fools errand. Unless you are a news outlet with the latest scoop on Taylor Swift, very few of your social media posts are going to gain traction. Social has evolved into a pay-to-play game, and it’s key to have a paid strategy in your social marketing mix.

Follow Garrett on Twitter at @pinojo and sign up to the Marketing Bytes newsletter here! Image by Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr CC.

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