The first thing most people encounter when jumping into the world of online marketing is all of the terminology. Marketing professionals throw around a lot of words that are a bit more complicated than necessary, but they all serve a purpose. If you’ve done any online marketing you’ve likely encountered the terms “organic content” and “paid content.” These two are on opposite ends of the spectrum. They represent one of the biggest choices you have to make when creating content for a brand. Today we will discuss what organic vs. paid content is, and the differences between them.
What Do They Mean?
But, it hardly helps to discuss which is better before we actually define organic vs paid. Organic content on social media is any kind of content you or others create that doesn’t involve paid promotion in any way. The easy example is anything time you’ve ever posted on social media in your personal life, that was organic content. If you don’t see a “sponsored” tag anywhere on a piece of content, that content is organic.
Now, that obviously means that any content that has money behind it is considered paid. If you see any content with a “sponsored” tag, that is paid content. Paid content gives advertisers access to much more information than organic content. Organic content gives you information involving likes, shares, and comments. Paid gives you all that plus demographics and characteristics about people who viewed and clicked the content (based on your ad targeting).
What Are The Benefits Of Both?
Within the world of marketing, there are those in both camps that will tell you that the other is a waste of time. Those who trumpet organic content will tell you that you shouldn’t be wasting money on paid. If the content is good enough you shouldn’t need to put ad spend behind it. On the other side, fans of paid content will claim that organic is unreliable. You should focus efforts on as good of paid content as possible, because this will increase your reach and give you data for retargeting.
Relying On Organic Content
While there is a certain merit to both arguments, both are heavily flawed. Pure organic content is nowhere as effective as it used to be as social media. In the early days of Facebook you could get millions of views quite easily. These days, Facebook limits your reach unless you’re a massive creator with an established audience, or you put some ad spend behind it. This is the case for just about every social media platform as well. The business has overwhelmingly become a pay to play market.
Relying On Paid Content
With this in mind, you may wonder why you shouldn’t just always rely on paid content. Organic reach might not be terribly high, but if you stop posting altogether you will encounter a very serious problem. The first of which has to do with how viewers interact with our page. When you post a piece of paid content, there will still be the link back to your company or brand page. If interested customers visit it and see you haven’t posted there in months, if not years, they won’t take your business seriously and you will have lost a customer. It’s wise to keep a consistent posting schedule so that people see you are active. This is also a good way of letting both new and old customers know what you are working on at any given time.
Combination Is Key
Creating a community such as this helps to retain customers as well. This is where using a combination of paid and organic posting is best. Paid is obviously the most direct way to gain new customers. But along with sales, it will grow your company or brand’s notoriety. You can also use organic posts to peak the interest of your current followers and remind them to check back on your site, or to click on paid ads once you launch a campaign. This also can work in reverse by using paid to put forth eye-catching information or headlines to draw them to your page where you can solidify their following. It’s all about how you want to interact with your audience.
Other Social Channels
So far we’ve primarily been speaking about Facebook (and Instagram), but other platforms work a bit differently when considering organic vs. paid content. Take Twitter for instance. In the past, Twitter used to function entirely on a timeline basis. You saw whatever was the most recent tweet in the order it was tweeted. While this is still slightly the case, newer features will show you tweets with higher engagement first, which means it’s extremely beneficial to create engaging content so that your tweet will be more likely to show up at the top of someone’s feed.
When it comes to paid, you can directly promote tweets with a variety of options to get it in front of specific audiences. These options are quite varied and allow for a good amount of customizability. For example, say you wanted to gain views on a specific video campaign. You could launch a paid campaign that would promote the video to a targeted audience and pay per video view. This strategy works for any number of campaigns and it all comes down to how you want to approach your following.
Even LinkedIn has a need for paid and organic content. If you are sticking only to the most popular social media platforms, you are likely missing out on lead generation from some of the more direct people on the Internet. Because LinkedIn is focused so heavily on business, you can consistently post on your business page about what your company is up to while simultaneously creating paid ads to garner more attention that will likely lead to further business.
The question of organic vs. paid content is one that professionals will likely never stop arguing over. If you always remember that both are extremely important in different ways, you will find your success. Paid is a great way to find new leads, while organic is best applied to keeping, and even strengthening, the audience you already have while providing content for new followers to engage with.
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