Understanding the difference between organic and paid social media isn’t too hard of a concept as the names of each explain themselves - Organic is free social media content curated to reach your followers, while paid is also shared with your followers but can potentially reach further, but is promoted at a cost. But what is important to distinguish between the two are the strengths and weaknesses of each. We’re going to go over some of the pros and cons that come with both organic and paid social media.
Pros of Organic Social Media
Direct Engagement with Your Customers
Social media has become a great platform for businesses to utilize and take advantage of. You can interact with customers directly, which can help narrow in on any customer service questions or requests. If done correctly, a well-maintained and active social media account for a business can be an effective platform to reach potential customers, post updates and respond to questions or concerns.
Social media accounts allow businesses to project personality to their brand. It provides another layer to your marketing efforts by allowing you to express the tone of your brand, and you can choose how you want your customers to perceive you. Responding to comments can show customers you care about their opinions, or adding some humor to your content can really add more personality to your brand.
Cons of Organic Social Media
Social media platforms can be fun and entertaining for personal use, but when it comes to using them for business purposes, there’s more to it than just posting witty jokes. You want to utilize it as a tool to help reach customers and get responses, and results aren’t going to happen over night (more on this below). Consistently creating content for your social media platforms can take time and be a massive time-drain if you don’t have a dedicated team to maintain your social media efforts.
Less Flexibility for Immediate Reach
The immediate reach of your organic social media efforts extends as far as your followers take it, meaning you can only expect your organic content to reach your immediate audience and the people they share it with. You can't zero in on and distribute your content to specific demographics or types of users like you can with paid social media.
Pros of Paid Social Media
Targeting to Expand Reach
Paid advertising on social media allows you to pinpoint and reach the specific demographics that will be the most receptive to whatever product or service you provide. You can sort users categorically, such as location, age, gender, or interests and place targeted advertisements on their social media feeds. It gives you reach beyond your followers and the ability to touch base with specific audiences that will be receptive to your messaging.
More Immediate Results
As mentioned earlier, organic social media efforts require more effort and strategy, and results aren’t always certain. Paid social media works with the algorithms that are designed to sort posts by relevancy and immediately places your content on potential customers’ feeds. Many platforms will allow you to establish a budget as well, so you’re not paying for more than you can afford. It’s also possible for certain target audiences to cost less to reach than others, getting you more immediate results.
Cons of Paid Social Media
Social Media Marketing is a Competitive Landscape
There is already so much competition on social media in terms of marketing, and depending on what industry you’re in, finding a place in the crowd might mean dealing with higher pay-per-click (PPC) rates to reach your target audience.
Requires Time and Attention
Paid social media efforts need to be monitored, analyzed and adjusted if you actually want to see results. Most platforms offer analytics that explain how your content or ads perform, but with that comes the need for change and adjustment. Both paid and organic social media can occupy time, and it’s often only as effective as the effort you put into it.
It's impossible to say whether organic or paid social media is better than the other, and it's up to you as a business owner to decide whether to utilize either. Ideally you could incorporate both if you're looking to create a social media strategy. Paid social media can help you get the ball rolling with some more immediate results, while leveraging organic content to promote a more active presence and interact with your followers.