Does Organic or Paid Social Media Work Better for Small Businesses?

Does Organic or Paid Social Media Work Better for Small Businesses?
By Kirsten Herhold

Over 70% small businesses use social media, meaning most recognize the value of social media as a channel for customer engagement.

The question that small businesses face, though, is whether to invest in paid social media marketing:  Can you pay your way to social media success? Or does relying on authentic and organic engagement have the most impact?

The answer likely is a combination of the two – A blend of organic and paid social media allows your company to experience the benefits of each without breaking the bank or relying solely on organic growth.

How your small business combine paid and organic efforts on social media depends on your budget, audience, and goals for growth.

Use this article to consider the benefits of paid and organic social media marketing and how to combine them to earn engagement and growth through social media.

Organic Social Works for Brand Building and Maintenance

A robust social media presence is essential to your brand’s credibility.

A meager following gives onlookers a reason to doubt your credibility. People look to the actions of others to inform their own decisions – a phenomenon known as “social proof”. If your social engagement is low, it may cause suspicion from potential customers.

On the other hand, the larger your following, you boost your perception as a source of authority and industry knowledge.

Each new follower, then, enhances the perceived trustworthiness of your brand, which makes your company and content more authoritative.

Use your organic social to share interesting ideas and spark a dialogue with your audience.

Organic engagement is best done authentically and often, so aim to attract your target audience with trending and evergreen topics that are both highly relevant to them and reflect your brand’s values.

Social Media Supports Your Online Reputation

Your organic social strategy should also serve to enhance your online reputation.

Use social listening tools such as Hootsuite to track and respond to the conversation about your business on social media.

The visibility these tools provide allows you to:

  • Collect feedback to inform and improve operations
  • Respond to feedback in a timely fashion
  • Mitigate damage from any negative comments

Organic social also enables you to provide excellent customer service.

People use their social media as avenues to share their experiences with a company. According to Sprout Social, approximately one-third of people prefer social media to traditional customer service channels such as phone and email.

Pay close attention to your organic engagement to capitalize on positive feedback and address any shortcomings.

Paid Social Expands Your Reach and Aids Conversions

People increasingly use social media to inform their purchasing decisions.

As reported by Smart Insights, the survey company Crowdtap found that 64% of people use social media for shopping inspiration.

This suggests that paid social media operates as a valuable touchpoint in the conversion process, meaning people use social to research and survey items before they purchase a product.

Social media makes it easy to release information about your company, but organic reach has declined significantly, especially on Facebook.

Use paid social advertising to ensure that people encounter your company during their researching and consideration stages.

Social platforms offer granular targeting capabilities that help you reach the exact customers who are most likely to be interested and convert on your products.

Your small business should experiment with targeting and retargeting to see which channels and types of posts help drive interest to your company.

Use Both Organic and Paid Social To Assist Content Strategy

While organic reach and engagement is lower, your company still benefits from consistently sharing announcements, blogs, and videos through social media.

To compensate for the low organic engagement, though, you should complement your efforts by promoting your best content with paid social. Paid campaigns can amplify your top-performing content to drive web traffic and meaningful engagement.

Paid social can also extend the reach of your content when you desperately need it.

For example, if you are facing a PR crisis, consider sponsoring a post across your social channels to generate engagement and make sure your crisis management content and efforts reach the most people possible.

Whether your audience is large or small, a blend of paid and organic reach can boost engagement with your content.

Organic and Paid Social Media for Your Small Business

The most effective way to approach social media is to combine paid and organic efforts.

Regular and rewarding engagement helps grow and manage your audience.

Organic social media helps your small business acquire and extend social proof and establish authentic relationships with followers.

If you need fast or guaranteed results, paid social is an effective way to acquire and engage followers.

Kristen Herhold is a senior writer for The Manifest, a B2B news and how-to site that helps business decision-makers determine the best business services for their needs. She researches digital marketing companies and advertising.