Mastering the Art of Social Media Marketing: Balancing Organic & Paid Strategies

Social media is as commonplace today as a Packers game in the fall. Incorporating it into your marketing strategy is a no-brainer! But simply creating an account, posting once or twice a week, and calling it good won’t put any points on the scoreboard. 

Any football coach worth his salt knows winning games takes more than just sending 11 players onto the field and having them run around blindly. Social media is no different. True, you don’t have to wear shoulder pads and a helmet when posting to Facebook, but you still need a game plan for success. 

Grab your clipboard and start drawing Xs and Os. We’re going to come up with a social media marketing strategy that’ll give you a competitive edge! 

Social Media is a Two-Way Street

Most website visitors will be downright shocked if your company doesn’t have a social media presence. Potential customers often use social media as a research tool to learn more about your business. Positive reviews lend credibility to your brand and can be beneficial to your online reputation. Even current clients get a kick out of seeing your team in action. Behind-the-scenes posts of your employees having fun help humanize your brand and add a personal touch. 

There are two main types of social media marketing: organic and paid. Each has its pros and cons. 

Organic social media marketing refers to the use of free, non-paid tools and strategies to boost engagement with your audience. This includes building the social media page, populating it with information about your business, posting high-quality content, and responding to comments and questions from your followers. Social media is a two-way street; the more you interact with your audience, the more likely they are to follow you; comment, like, or share your posts; and leave reviews — activities that will help you build trust and expand your reach. 

You’ve gotta admit that’s pretty cool, and you can’t beat the price. But keep in mind that organic posts only reach the people who already follow your page, with a few exceptions (e.g., friends of followers). 

Also, organic social media marketing doesn’t contribute directly to your SEO efforts. Google doesn’t care about Facebook and The Platform Formerly Known as Twitter posts. How rude, right? However, if a post should go viral, traffic to your site will increase. Google does like this, and will rank your page higher as a result. 

The biggest advantages of organic social media marketing involve reputation building, brand storytelling, building a customer community, and gaining an awareness of your customer’s needs and pain points through comments and reviews. 

Organic Social Media Marketing Pros

  • Build your reputation
  • Research tool for potential customers
  • Brand storytelling
  • Customer community
  • Awareness of your customer’s needs and pain points through comments and reviews

Organic Social Media Marketing Cons

  • Doesn’t extend beyond your own previously established customer base
  • Doesn’t directly influence SEO

Paid Social Media Marketing Comes With a Cost (Duh!)

Paid social media marketing, by contrast, involves the use of paid advertising on social media platforms to promote your business or brand to a wider and more targeted audience. If organic social media is like throwing a dart blindfolded from 50 feet away, paid social media gives you a clearer line of sight and cuts the distance to the dartboard in half. 

In a nutshell, paid social media marketing attempts to solve the biggest issue of organic social media marketing: showing your posts to people beyond your previously established follower base. But this comes at a cost — literally. Organic social media might not do much for you in the long run, but it is free. Free is good. You’ll have to dig out your wallet for paid social media marketing. It’s right there in the name. Paid! 

If you’re thinking that paid social media marketing sounds suspiciously like advertising, you get a gold star, because that’s exactly what it is…just on a social media platform instead of in print or on the airwaves. 

There’s nothing wrong with paid social media marketing, but it’s important to keep in mind that not all platforms are created equal. Choose wisely depending on your business model. If you’re a SaaS (Software as a Service) business, for instance, you’re likely to see better results on LinkedIn. If you’re a fashion or art business, on the other hand, TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest are probably your best bet. Know who and where your audience is and the best ways to get in front of them before shelling out the bucks. 

Like organic social media marketing, there is no direct SEO benefit to using paid social media marketing either. The main benefits are reaching potential customers you wouldn’t be able to organically, and targeting specific audiences. People tend to share a lot about themselves on social media (sometimes way too much!); this provides more accurate targeting for your advertising efforts. 

Paid Social Media Marketing Pros

  • Reach people beyond your previously established customer base
  • Target specific audiences

Paid Social Media Marketing Cons

  • Comes with a literal cost
  • Doesn’t directly influence SEO

A Hybrid You Don’t Have to Plug In

As you can see, organic and paid social media marketing balance each other’s weak points. While paid social media marketing extends your reach beyond your sphere of influence, organic social media marketing provides a reputable profile for new visitors to find, and fosters a community among your customers that paid simply can’t. Proof that some strategies are better than others!

The worst strategy you can have (other than no strategy at all) is putting all your eggs in one basket. Don’t, for example, limit your company’s entire online presence to Facebook. Many small businesses forgo even a website in favor of a Facebook page where they only post organically. This is like aiming at that dartboard while blindfolded from 100 yards away! You’ll miss the board so often, you’ll be patching holes in the wall forever. 

On the other hand, if you only post ads without any organic engagement, your prospects have nothing to connect with. In an era of prevalent scam ads and bot posts, this can make you appear untrustworthy.

The best strategy involves a healthy mix of both organic and paid social media marketing. It’s entirely up to you how that looks. For some companies — let’s say a coffee shop, for instance — it might make more sense to engage organically more than through paid ads or sponsored posts. For others — maybe an office supply store — the opposite might be true: focusing on ads and boosted posts instead of relying on brand storytelling could be the smart business move.

Consider your brand, target audience, goals, and budget to decide which strategy is best for you. Do this right, and you’ll be on track to win the social media marketing game!