Do you remember the original promise to social media marketers that if you organically find your audience and build a following, they’ll purchase what you’re selling?
Well, that’s changed.
There have always been differences in organic vs. paid social media strategy, but the reality of today’s social media marketing landscape is this:
The only way to get results is to let go of old strategies that don’t work anymore and get on board with new ones that work wonders when done right.
Why Paid Social Media Marketing and Organic Strategies Have Evolved
Organic vs. paid social media strategies used to have everything to do with social media platform-specific algorithms and audience behavior, but things are different now.
Forbes recently reported that “fewer than half of companies describe their social media strategies as “very effective.” That’s the case when measuring its ability to raise awareness, strengthen brand image, grow its customer base, or increase sales. Further, companies are not all that confident in their current social media strategies.
Part of the reason for this lack of effectiveness is the often-wide gap that sits between what companies expect to get out of social media marketing and what consumers want in their social media feed.
Here’s what’s new due to audience expectations:
- The rise of image and video content are the only types of posts to get significant reach. Text-only posts struggle to be seen at all.
US social network video ad spending will grow this year to $24.35 billion, growing by 20.1% year-over-year. This means video now makes up over one-third of total US social network ad spending. Next year it’s expected to go up another $8 billion or so.
- Engagement is a key element of visibility, so posts without engagement are hidden in the newsfeed, which ensures their demise.
In 2021, TikTok had the highest average per post engagement rate on social media at 5.96%. The next closest competitor was Instagram at 0.83%. The difference between the two is astounding!
- Privacy concerns and negative news has caused audience pushback against the sentiment of “you are the product.”
Fifty-two percent of social media users say the protection of their privacy and data greatly impacts their decision to interact with sponsored content or not. This is even more important to users than being shown disinformation, fake news, scams, or clickbait!
- An ever-increasing number and personalization of ads on social media are crowding the space and capturing audience attention more than organic results can ever hope to get.
On LinkedIn, there are 200+ characteristics you can zero in on for reaching a very precise audience. These characteristics include skills, degrees in particular subjects, company growth, and many others.
- Platforms are penalizing brands that overtly sell and giving preferential ranking to brands that join conversations according to audience cues.
Consumers don’t want to be “sold” to, but that’s what many companies do. Consumers want to be engaged online and feel an immediate impact. They want control of when and where they are interacted with, not bombarded by commercials they didn’t ask for. They want long-term relationships with their favorite brands, not a buy-it-and-forget-it chance encounter.
When a customer reaches out to a brand on social media regarding a question or concern, they expect an answer within 24 hours.
4 New Tactics for Paid and Organic Social Media
Don’t worry. Marketers can still make paid and organic work for them. But there are some specific tactics to employ. Some of these aren’t new necessarily, but perhaps they now need to be used in new ways to make an impact.
1. Choose Your Platforms Wisely
Don’t go everywhere people are, not every platform is perfect for your brand and audience.
For instance, if your audience is stacked with Gen Zers, then find them on Snapchat. That’s what reaches 71% of Gen Zers who aren’t reached by tv.
Make these considerations before deciding where to focus your activity:
- Are you B2C or B2B? Some platforms are more beneficial depending on your clientele. At 63%, the most important social media platform for B2C is Facebook versus 24% for Instagram.
- Is your brand local, national, or international? Different platforms are preferred depending on geography. For example, more than 15% of Facebook’s users speak Spanish and there are more active Facebook users in Dhaka, Bangladesh, than anywhere else.
- What are your audience demographics, firmographics, and interests? For example, 48.7% of gamers prefer YouTube as their social media preference.
2. Use Hashtags Carefully
Hashtags unify all posts into a searchable thread. They also:
- Build a community by providing a place for individuals and businesses to connect
- Allow followers to ask questions and get answers from the group
- Help your business be part of the ongoing conversation
- Encourage collaboration among companies and their audience
Perform current hashtag research for each platform you use. Just don’t stuff a social media post with too many (or unrelated) hashtags. You’ll your message and make it unreadable.
3. Attach a Video to Every Post
Short-form videos, especially, should be invested in as part of a company’s social media marketing strategy. If you think about how purposeful videos can create meaningful connections, you’ll understand why.
High-quality video production can be expensive. Fortunately, videos don’t need to be highly produced to be engaging. Showing real people doing real things is enough of a sales pitch to get a personal response from your audience.
A Word About Copyright
Sure, use other people’s images and videos but always credit them. If you want to be extra safe from reputational and legal woes, get your media from open-source websites or create your own.
4. Experiment with Your Posts
There are so many different ways to engage with your audience via social media. Really, the options are almost endless. To get your creative vibes flowing, here are some out-of-the-box ideas:
- Ask for advice.
- Put forth a This or That or Would You Rather.
- Do a Fill In The Blank.
- Recommend a favorite app or website.
- Give time- or money-saving tips.
- Quote an expert.
- Solve a problem.
- Create an infographic.
- Speak of challenges.
- Say Thank You.
- Offer a Behind-the-Scenes view.
- Show-and-Tell something.
- Repeat a mantra.
- Provide a Before-and-After.
- Grant a sneak peek.
- Show a product in use.
- Make a live video announcement.
- Start a contest.
- Showcase a case study.
- Mention a relevant, trending topic.
- Call out a favorite fan.
- Partner with an influencer.
There are also posts you shouldn’t experiment with, and they include:
- Negative or offensive content. Social media isn’t the place to air your grievances. If a customer complains about you or your company, respond respectfully and offer to continue the conversation offline.
- Political or religious content. This suggestion can be debatable depending on the circumstance. Generally speaking though, you won’t connect with your audience as a whole if you choose to speak out on either of these topics—and that’s the best-case scenario. You don’t even want to think about the worst.
- Irrelevant or dumbed-down content. There’s no use trying to copy a viral meme just for the sake of it. Your audience has already seen it and a dozen other better iterations than what you can produce. You’ll just be met with eye rolls and scrolls.
- Off-brand content. Your social media profiles and posts should always reflect your brand’s values and personas. Otherwise, you risk confusing and alienating your audience.
- Duplicate content across platforms. You can recycle similar content but keep each of your organic vs. sponsored posts unique. Follow each platform’s personality and requirements.
Case Study: Social Media Marketing
We had a global eCommerce chocolatier come to Big Leap for help with their social channel concerns—they didn’t know what kind of content would lead to higher sales.
We came up with three tactics:
- Before we could suggest certain social media marketing strategies, we needed to test them to ensure the time and money spent on them would pay off. We did this by using the Boost feature on Facebook, paying to elevate our client’s online reviews, product images, and animated graphics. After three months, we determined which products led to the most purchases.
- We prioritized those products by moving away from boosted social posts to conversion campaigns. This was done by creating graphics that feature specific value points. For example, we targeted “Gift baskets under $100” and “Buy the good stuff in bulk.”
- When we found a successful campaign, we injected a little more money and extended it by a few more days.
- We also experimented with animated graphics and found they performed significantly better than our static images. Therefore, we stopped using static images (mostly) and increased the animated graphics budget to about 90% of our client’s Pinterest content.
Did Our Social Media Strategy Work?
It sure did! With Big Leap’s help, our client reached a 2500% return-on-ad-spend in just a couple of months. They also achieved an increase of 171,988 Facebook impressions and their Pinterest audience grew by 72%.
Read the case study in its entirety.
The Best Macro Strategy = Organic + Paid Social Media
Marketers are feeling the sting of algorithmic changes on every platform. For one, there’s the rising cost of ads.* This has everyone thinking twice about paying for them, yet it’s become much harder for your audience to organically find your business. It feels like a lose-lose situation.
But there’s an answer that makes everyone happy—create a social media strategy that uses paid and organic social media marketing strategies together. Can you see the potential that can come from combining these two methods to optimize your marketing efforts?
Suggestions for an Integrated Organic and Paid Social Media Marketing Strategy
If you don’t know how to integrate your social media strategies, no worries if you feel a bit perplexed. As usual, we’ve got suggestions.
We like to give real-world actionable tips at Big Leap, not just generic overviews of non-specific information. As such, here’s what we think you should do to up your social media marketing efforts using both organic and paid methods.
- Only pay for ads when you need to hit certain KPIs that point back to a pre-determined business goal.
- Identify previous organic content that really resonates with your followers (determined by likes, profile views, and conversions), then pay to boost it.
- Perform A/B testing on your copy, visuals, CTA, and ad placement for organic content and also on paid ads before allocating too much of your digital marketing budget to one option.
- Research the audience your organic marketing captures and target your paid ads to them using “lookalike” and “best customer” practices.
- View paid vs. organic social media analytics side by side to get full visibility for guiding strategic tweaks.
Get Expert Social Media Strategies
If you need some extra guidance to build and execute a solid social media marketing strategy, you can trust Big Leap.
We want to help you create valuable connections with your audience—connections that lead to conversions. We’ll do this by:
- Performing a social media audit and Instagram SEO audit
- Finding your social media marketing issues
- Combining organic and paid strategies
All this will get you highly profitable results.
Take InvoSpa, for example. This client came to our experts because they were having a hard time competing in the $1.5 trillion health and wellness industry.
Big leap used the following social media marketing strategies to give them a boost:
- Social media giveaway campaign. We wanted to win the type of engagement InvoSpa was seeking so we established rules according to our parameters.
- Influencer marketing. To ensure engagement with the giveaway, we chose to collaborate with influencers.
- Hashtag research. We wanted to find influencers in the health and wellness space so we researched relevant industry hashtags and made contact.
- Customization. We created a different theme for each giveaway campaign to align with an influencer’s area of expertise. We provided the influencers with relevant captions and visuals for a cohesive audience experience.
- Outreach. All influencers as well as Big Leap shared and commented on the giveaway across social media platforms.
What did InvoSpa get as a result of our efforts? A 326% increase in Instagram engagement, a 350% increase in Facebook likes, and a 500% increase in Facebook followers.
Want similar results? Talk to us today!
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