It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was 2011 and social media as we know it today was a much different playing field. In those early days of adoption among brands, these emerging channels were a means of reaching massive amounts of eyeballs at a low cost and minimal competition. Every year since has presented its own challenges to that reach with some of the most recent studies in 2017 reporting a 20% decrease in engagement for content posted by brand and publisher Pages.
And that drastic drop in engagement is not entirely surprising when considering that between 2012 and 2014, the likelihood of someone organically seeing branded content in their newsfeeds went from 16% on average to 6.5%. While the impact is most certainly apparent on Facebook, it’s made waves on other platforms as well in their efforts to both organize the massive amounts of daily content produced and monetize upon users. The testing grounds have transformed into feeding frenzy tanks, replacing strategies that revolve around frequency and quantity with ones that advocate for quality and thoughtful targeting.
All of the shocking numbers and ominous language aside, the value in noting these changes doesn’t come from determining whether play on social media is more effective than another. It comes from understanding what organic and paid strategies actually represent in today’s social media ecosystem.
Organic, as it relates to this, encompasses all actions on behalf of a brand through social that do not require a monetary boost. This includes community management, social listening, and profile optimization. From the paid perspective, this involves everything touched by advertising dollars such as boosted posts, lead generation forms, and influencer marketing.
In understanding organic from this perspective, the benefits behind what it represents become much more tangible. After all, measuring social media success is no longer about reach and reach alone. It’s about how people interact with your brand once they are reached. And that’s why developing a plan where organic and paid work in tandem with each other, rather than against, is crucial.
Building a Community
When it comes to establishing community around a brand on social, consider the analogy of a car. You have the body shaping what the car looks like and giving first impressions to passersby with window glimpses of the person behind the wheel. This is your organic strategy. This is the polish you give to a company profile with consistent messaging and expressions of what sets you apart from the competition.
These are the responses your brand gives when faced with a customer’s questions and concerns that give them a glimpse at your company values. This is the time you spend following trends and keywords as they relate to your audience that shapes the look and feel of content you produce on their behalf.
At the most basic level, within that same car are the engine and wheels. These parts are essential in helping a car both run and move from point A to B. This is your paid strategy. With amplification behind content created, your brand is able to move itself in front of audiences it’s most likely to resonate with. And with the right types of ads established through various funnels, your campaigns run smoothly from awareness to lead to conversion.
Establishing a Brand Image
There’s no denying that online experiences influence offline purchases. Individuals will often turn to the Internet for a better idea of not just whether quality of product exists but whether there’s a quality of brand as well. This research inevitably leads to social media channels, which can in turn lead to quick judgements.
If your brand hasn’t put in the work to shape who it is and provide meaningful interaction with content through these channels, paid methods may still drive success but it’s unlikely to be long-term in nature. On top of this, optimizing for the quickest way to hook people through clicks—the ‘silver bullet’ as some might call it—is inefficient and ineffective in the grand scheme of things. Without research, listening, and an understanding of who your brand is in relation to its audience, the money spent will go nowhere.
Enhancing the Customer Journey
The digital funnels for both customer satisfaction and sale on social media are rooted in quality content and timing. You want to encourage your audience down a preferred path based upfront on relationship rather than hard sell.
Knowing that potential customers are bombarded with a plethora of ads and product choices every single second of every single day through these outlets, their awareness of being sold to is that much higher. And your job in marketing to them becomes more about what’s under the surface than at face value.
Instead of telling audiences your brand is worth investing in, show them. Build out a chain of ads that tell the complete story of your customer and provide them with actions to take that’ll inevitably lead them closer to purchase. This could be represented through various ad goals and success measurements, but the moral of the story is to optimize for engagement first. Once people are interested in what you have to say and are willing to interact, you can better understand what will move the needle in taking them from social feed to shopping cart.
Social media as it exists today may indeed be more complicated to crack from a conversion standpoint, but that’s what makes the interactions had between brand and customer so much richer in substance. Working together, organic and paid methods produce better results for both brand and audience alike. They feed off each other and help you to better align short-term actions with long-term results.
Looking for help in connecting your organic and paid social media strategies? The experts at Mabbly are just a call away!