Social media is an important tool for marketing your business. While everyone knows this, we often hear the question ‘where should we be focusing our time, organic social media or paid social media?‘ This is where it can be hard to work out your priorities in your social media marketing strategy, and too often it’s a decision determined by budgets.
In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about these two different approaches to social media marketing and how a blended approach can help deliver the results you need for your business.
What is social media marketing?
‘Doing social media’ is nothing new for most businesses. But if there isn’t an underlying strategy behind it, posting on X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn and Facebook can be an unfocused way to spend time and money to achieve very little.
This is particularly the case for businesses selling professional services, which might not feel like a natural fit for social media marketing in the same way as B2C brands with products to sell to the public.
But whether your customers are busy executives at work looking for professional services or the same busy executives at home looking for their next holiday, they’re spending their time online either way.
Knowing how to reach your audience through social media is the first step toward a successful social media strategy, but there are two ways to achieve this. So let’s dig into those two options.
What is organic social media?
When people talk about organic social media they mean the free content that people and brands can post on their feeds. When you post a photo of the meal you had at a restaurant last night, or you share a funny cat video you’ve seen, that’s organic social media.
For businesses, organic social media is the bread and butter of a social media marketing strategy. It’s free, so you can do as much of it as you feel is necessary or suitable for your brand.
You can easily set a calendar for your organic social media posts, making them an appealing mixture of text, photos, videos, sharing blog content, promoting key services. You can also share ad hoc posts reacting to news, developments in your marketplace and much more.
What you can’t necessarily do with organic social media is decide exactly who will see your posts. With careful use of whatever platform/platforms you’re on, you can build up an impressive list of followers, but the whims of the algorithms mean that each post’s organic reach isn’t necessarily going to be that full list of followers.
Posting like this can be a good way to establish your brand’s voice online, build relationships with your followers, engaging them at various stages of your funnel and assist with customer service queries, but there are limitations to organic social media.
After all, social media companies are offering professional services too and they don’t want to give them away completely free. They need you to want to pay for some social media usage, so organic social media reach has been steadily declining for years and is currently around 4 percent on Facebook.
So when you post for free on your brand’s Facebook page, you can expect only around 4% of your followers to actually see it. So, how can you reach a higher audience and, hopefully, get a better return on your investment?
What is paid social media?
Paid social media is, put simply, just another kind of advertising. It’s where you pay Facebook, LinkedIn, X, TikTok and other platforms to get your content in front of the right people. This content can boost specially designed sales or marketing posts or can simply boost your organic content when you want more than a small percentage of your followers to see it.
It can be used for boosting your reach amongst people who already follow you, but also is a great way of targeting new audiences and raising your brand awareness. This is only really possible through organic posts if you use the right hashtags to appeal to non-followers, whereas paid social media allows you to target the right audiences via demographics, geography and their interests.
That helps make it a much more focused way of getting messages out, making it ideal for promoting a new offer, new services or an event that you’re hosting or attending. It’s a way to generate new leads and drive conversions, though only if you’re doing it effectively of course – paying for something is no guarantee of success.
Given that it comes with all of these benefits, does this mean that paid social media is the way forward? After all, if you are pushed for time and don’t have the resource to put into the slow-burn approach of organic social media, surely you could just use these platforms as an advertising tool?
You could, but a blended approach offers the best of both worlds as part of your social media marketing strategy. And here’s why…
Why you need a blended approach to your social media
A blended approach to social media marketing means understanding the pros and cons of organic and paid and using your time and resources effectively and efficiently to work to their combined strengths.
To do this you need to first understand what you’re trying to achieve through social media as this can help determine where your priorities should be focused. Brand awareness can be built through both organic and paid and, best of all, by using them together. Paid ads can draw in new followers and you can use a drip feed of organic posts to engage them into being customers.
The data you get back from both organic and paid social media can also help you with your strategic marketing, especially if you work with social media experts like our team at Ingenuity Digital to create a tailored approach based on analysis of your data.
Another benefit to a blended approach is that it helps you take a full-funnel approach to your social media marketing. Paid social media can be great for the top-of-funnel awareness stage, because it allows you to target potential customers based on their interests and activity, whether they follow you or not.
It can also work at the other end of the funnel, with well-targeted and well-crafted paid ads able to deliver conversions quickly and efficiently. Meanwhile, organic social media is perfect for the middle of the funnel, where audiences are aware of your services but need careful engagement to move them towards getting in touch and starting to work with you.
Lean on our expertise
This nurturing approach is a key part of any sales or marketing strategy but the time it can take can be frustrating. This is where a blended approach works for your business, allowing you to prioritise more budget on paid social media to bring in customers more quickly, with the aim of reducing this spend over time as organic starts to have more impact.
Getting this balance and blend right isn’t easy first time, it takes trial and error and careful planning and measuring of results. It can also require the guidance of a social media marketing agency with the experience and track record of delivering these results, so why not get in touch with Ingenuity Digital today to find out more about how we can help you leverage social media to grow your professional services business? Contact our team today