Organic vs. Paid Social Media

Organic and Paid Social Media

In common with publishing mediums (e.g., marketplaces, search), content can be published for free on Social Media platforms, or users can pay to increase engagement. This could be to promote posts or to drive traffic to an external website. Content posted for free is referred to as Organic Social Media, whereas content businesses pay to advertise is Paid Social Media.

Organic Social Media

This is the content (e.g., photos, posts or videos) that users share on their profiles for free. When you post organically, the users who will see it are:

  • A proportion of your followers (know are your ‘organic reach’)
  • Your followers’ followers (if your follows share your post)
  • People following hashtags you include.

However, because all the major platforms use ranking algorithms to organise the increasing amount of content, only a tiny proportion of your followers will see your organic posts. The average organic reach for Facebook posts is just 5.5% of your follower count (Source: Hootsuite), and this figure has been declining for several years.

In summary, if you rely on organic reach, it can be challenging to get your content in front of even a fraction of your existing followers, let alone any new followers.

Paid Social

Paid Social is when businesses pay Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc., to share their content with new audiences.  This is either through ‘boosting’ their organic content or designing unique advertisements. Businesses use paid social to:

  • Raise brand awareness and attract new followers.
  • Promote their latest deal, content, event, etc.
  • Generate leads.
  • Drive conversions (including e-commerce sales)



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