Organic vs. Paid Social Media Strategies

Discover the differences between organic and paid social media strategies and how both can benefit businesses, as well as how to successfully implement them.

Blog Post

6 minute read

Dec 06, 2023

Deciding whether to cook dinner at home or pick up take out is a lot like choosing organic versus paid social media strategies for your company. An organic social media strategy uses in-house resources to promote your brand for free, while paid social media costs money but can be more effective.

Implementing organic or paid social media strategies can be extremely beneficial for a business, but choosing which one (or both!) may be best for your company can depend on what you’re looking to achieve. In this blog, we’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as how to incorporate them into your business.

If paid media seems to be a good fit, learn how to create a plan that will perform well by watching Impact’s webinar, Creating a Paid Media Strategy That Works.

What Is an Organic Social Media Strategy?

Having a social media presence as a brand has become more important as the popularity of social media has grown. 

Percentage of organizations with a social media presence.

Organic social media is the free content, including posts, photos, and videos, that users share with followers via their accounts. This type of social media is the best way to connect with customers on a personal level. It can reach a percentage of followers, also called organic reach, their followers’ followers, and users looking at hashtags your company employs.  

Companies use this form of social media to:

  • Establish a voice and personality: Some brands take on more of a casual tone to make followers feel as though they are talking to a person instead of a corporation.  
  • Build a connection with consumers: This can be done by sharing informative, amusing, and inspirational content.
  • Engage with customers throughout each stage of the buying journey: Social media allows brands to be involved with consumers during the awareness, consideration, and decision stages.
  • Enhance customer service: By providing an additional outlet for customers to contact companies, social media allows businesses to better assist their clients.

While organic social media is free, it takes time, experimentation, and experience to do it effectively. And only a small percentage of followers will see organic posts, as the algorithms of social media behemoths have made it so that paid media is the best way to reach a large number of consumers. 

Engagement rate of organic Facebook posts.

What Is a Paid Social Media Strategy?

When brands pay money to social media companies, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, to share their content with new targeted audiences, this is called a paid social media strategy.  

Social media users have increased their time spent on social media—which has maximized their exposure to online shopping via ecommerce and social media stores—causing a rebound in paid social media strategy since 2020, according to eMarketer.

Paid media strategies can be used to boost organic content or promote curated advertisements. This social media strategy is the best way for companies to reach new target audiences on social media and turn them into customers.

Companies use this form of social media to:

  • Increase brand awareness and attract new followers: By putting the company’s content in front of consumers—specifically, those who follow similar accounts and have proven to be interested in the company’s market—who don’t already engage with the brand, paid media boosts brand awareness.  
  • Promote new information: Brands may use paid media to advertise a new deal, content, or event.
  • Generate leads: Targeting potential customers who may be interested in the company can produce new leads for the business in the hopes of increasing future sales.
  • Drive conversions: Getting content out to a wider, targeted audience can increase conversions, such as ecommerce sales.

Similarities and Differences Between the Strategies

Both organic and paid social media strategies can be beneficial to a company’s success. They can help businesses gain new customers and followers, advertise and promote content, and provide an in-depth insight into a brand’s target audience.  

Venn diagram of the benefits of organic social vs. paid social.

Benefits of paid media strategies (not covered by organic):

  • Larger audience reach: Paid media allows companies to reach users outside of their following and those seeking them out.  
  • Target potential customers: Social platforms place the content in front of specific audiences who are more likely to be interested in the company than the average consumer.
  • Reach business goals quickly: By driving leads and conversations and exposing the brand to more consumers, paid media helps companies attain their goals faster.  

But with paid media, you must consider:  

  • Costs money: Paid media can cost anywhere from $15 to $200 per day, depending on the social media platform, your company’s industry, and whether or not you work with a social advertising agency.  
  • Must monitor ads: Your brand must keep track of the effectiveness of the paid media campaigns to see how they are benefitting your company and if they are worth the financial cost.
  • Lack of control: With paid media, companies relinquish control over where their ads are placed and what content they’re positioned next to—and, therefore, might be associated with.  

Benefits of organic media strategies (not covered by paid):

  • Increased brand presence: Having organic media allows a company to take control of their brand personality with free range of content to post. When people research a company, organic media gives them more of an understanding of the brand than just looking at a website or reviews.
  • Customer service: With the options to directly message a company and comment on their posts, customers can get a faster and more personalized response from the organization.  
  • Relationship building: Organic media gives customers more of a feel for a company, especially as some brands attempt to be casual and relatable.

But with organic media, you must consider:  

  • Slower to reach business goals: Since organic media mainly reaches current followers, reaching business goals can be more difficult than when using paid media strategies.  
  • Time consuming: Having a successful organic social media strategy can take a lot of time, as well as experience, in order to get it right.

Integrating Organic and Paid Social Media Strategies

The most effective way to use organic and paid social media strategies is to implement both, as they each serve different purposes. Companies can use organic social media strategies to engage with existing customers and followers, while paid strategies focus on attracting new consumers.  

A company can most successfully incorporate social media strategies by:

  • Using paid media to boost organic content: Advance high-performing organic content by using paid media to get your most successful posts in front of new audiences. To determine what organic content to promote, look at likes, conversions, and profile views.
  • Enhancing posts by using A/B testing: Test versions of certain posts with a smaller audience before paying. You can try out different CTAs, copywriting techniques, and visuals to see what resonates best with your target audience.
  • Gearing paid ads to users similar to your organic audience: As your social media presence grows organically, you will have more information about your ideal customer and audience. Apply this information when considering who to target with paid media.
  • Keeping business goals in mind: Only consider paying for ads when you believe they can help you reach your business’ goals. For example, the return on investment for a holiday message may not be worth the price but a promotional deal could be.
  • Taking data into consideration: Use social analytics tools to measure your results so you can determine what works and what doesn’t for your specific audience.  

Logging Off on Social Media Strategies

Social media strategies can be beneficial to certain businesses by helping companies reach new customers, providing an additional outlet to promote content, and supplying more information about the target audience.  

Organic and paid social media strategies can be daunting to integrate into your business if you’re not sure how to use them, as running social media accounts for a company can be time-consuming and requires experience to determine what types of content to post.  

MSPs, like Impact, can help by providing professionals to assist in your digital marketing strategy.  

But if you’re interested in pursuing social media strategies on your own, check out Impact’s webinar, Creating a Paid Media Strategy That Works, to learn how to develop a successful paid media plan.  


MarketingBusiness GrowthSocial MediaBusiness GrowthBrandingPaid Media


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