Social Media Marketing: Is Paid or Organic Best for your Business?

By Sam Butterworth

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The debate about the best method of marketing your business digitally has been raging for many years, and the truth is there is no definitive answer. There are a wide range of factors that determine whether PPC or SEO is the most appropriate form of marketing for you. That includes the size of the business, the sector, its budget and the amount of time you have to start generating results. We even spoke to a PPC specialist who gave us much the same response, explaining that PPC is often a good starting point until the SEO efforts start to kick in.

The world of social media marketing also presents its own paid vs. organic dilemma. A survey by We Are Social in 2015 found that there are 2.078 billion active social media accounts. With such a huge number of people to target, are paid social media ads or organic social media campaigns the best way to go?

Paid social ads

Just as Adwords allows businesses to essentially buy their way to the top of the search engine results pages, organisations can use social ads in a similar way. Businesses can assign a budget to each of their products and services and target their audience accordingly, choosing the right platform to appeal to their particular demographic.

Just as in a pay-per-click campaign, creating quality ads is essential. Your content should be relevant and original and appealing to your target market. This will help to maintain your presence and reduce the impression that you are spamming your audience. 

The benefits of paid social ads


  • It’s cost effective – In terms of the visibility you receive for your spend, paid social media ads tend to be more cost effective than organic social marketing;
  • It’s incredibly targeted – You can get your brand in front of the people that matter by targeting them through a range of factors like age, gender, location and job title.
  • It’s flexible – You can stop and start your campaigns as and when you like. If they’re not getting the results you want, put your campaign on pause and move the budget elsewhere.
  • The results are immediate – Building a social media presence organically will take time. With paid ads, your brand will appear on the newsfeeds of your target market as soon as you turn them on.
  • You can fine tune your campaign – Insights from the social platforms will show you what is and isn’t working so you can get more value from your campaign.


Organic social media marketing

Of course, any social media marketing campaign you run is paid-for, because you need to put the resources in place to manage your presence. However, get it right and organic social media marketing can certainly be well worth the investment.

Organic social media is all about building a following and gaining visibility across social networks by sharing informative, helpful or entertaining content with your target market. Done well, it can build trust, improve brand recognition and help you develop a bond with customers. Here’s an example of incredibly effective organic social media marketing in practice.    

The benefits of organic social media marketing

  • Increase brand awareness – With millions of users on social media platforms, the potential reach of your campaign is unlimited.
  • Improve brand loyalty – Interacting with your target market on a regular basis can help to build brand loyalty and increase repeat business.
  • Humanising your brand – Organic social media can help to humanise a business in a way paid ads can’t. Developing a consistent brand voice across your profiles is key.
  • Create an open line of communication – Social media provides a two-way form of communication that can improve relationships with customers and allow you to react quickly to queries. However, fail to respond and you risk losing them forever.

Which is best?

If you want to drive conversions quickly and you have some budget available then paid social ads can provide a quick fix. However, if you’re more focused on building your client-customer relationship then organic is likely to be the better investment.

The truth is that both options may not work for every business, with industry sector playing a big part in the right choice for you. As with the PPC vs. SEO debate, it could be that gaining initial traction with paid social ads, followed by organic social media marketing to build a relationship with those customers, could be the best way to keep your customers coming back for more. 


About the author: Sam Butterworth is a freelance writer, editor and content creator. His work covers everything from marketing and social media to business ethics, environment and entertainment. You can find some of his latest work at JTC Consultants.

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What the Social Hire gang loves is making a difference for our clients, and we don't want to waste your, or our resources on campaigns that aren't right for your organisation, if it doesn't get your organisation the difference you need - we prefer a better approach. When your business utilises social media management, Social Hire get your brand the exposure it needs and offer your business the lift it needs to improve.

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