Although nearly 60% of social media marketers say their paid social media efforts are most effective for their business, more than half use a mostly organic approach, according to new research by Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm. The trend is similar for both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, with 54% of B2Cs and 47% of B2Bs using organic social media more often than paid options.
Paid and organic social media typically complement each other, and each approach accomplishes different goals. While organic social media helps a company develop a relatable brand voice and engage with its audience, paid social media efforts are intended to convert potential customers quickly and increase revenue.
“Your efforts on paid social media are enhanced by your efforts on organic and vice versa, so you’re missing out if you’re not doing both to some extent,” said Steve Pearson, CEO of Friendemic, a social media marketing agency.
The different objectives that organic and paid social media achieve may explain why 59% of social media marketers say a paid approach is most effective. Paid social media tends to produce tangible, easily measurable benefits – in the form of conversions, click through rates, and sales – while organic social media focuses on relationship-building over the long term.
Paid social media is also particularly effective at targeting specific audiences, and with recent social networks’ algorithm changes, paid and sponsored posts are prioritized – a tangible value-add for marketers.
Despite paid social media’s effectiveness, 13% of respondents say their company does not devote resources to paid social media, and 36% say they don’t plan to start in the future. Thought leaders in social media marketing agree that failing to prioritize paid social media is not a good business decision.
“Every company is suited for a paid social media strategy. If you aren’t using paid tactics, then your social media presence will most likely be ineffective,” said Sean Standberry, CEO of LYFE Marketing, a social media marketing agency. “Organic reach is decreasing every day as social media platforms are being monetized.”
Clutch’s Social Media Marketing Survey 2016 included 304 social media marketers from medium and large organizations in the US with 100+ employees. 62% of companies have more than 500 employees, with 71% working at B2C companies and 29% at B2B.