Can Social Media Be An Effective Marketing Channel Separate from Paid Ads?

By Fraser Gillies Published: 3 December, 2020 Last updated: February 17th, 2022 at 1:23 pm

phone in grass

Surveys show that 58% of consumers in 2020 will visit a company’s social media before visiting its website. 

Your social channels, therefore, play a pivotal role in the first interactions with your brand. Depending on who your target audience is, up to 90% of their age demographic are active on social media on a weekly basis. That’s a lot of potential first impressions. 

However, there’s still some scepticism around whether organic posting on social media is worthwhile. Not only is organic social media more time consuming, but it can be quite rigid and hard to reach a target audience instantly. 

Paid social media, by contrast, is time efficient and allows for precise audience targeting. So, we should just down our organic tools and suit up with its paid counterparts, right?

Not quite. Let’s explore why organic social media on its own is still a central digital marketing channel for businesses big and small.

Organic is ideal for brand awareness

Organic social media is the perfect forum for developing relationships with a target platform user. 

As I said above, social media is many people’s initial encounter with a brand, making it a crucial channel for top-of-the-funnel marketing activity. If your business is active on social media, nurturing new relationships with real-time responses to questions or concerns positively impacts your brand’s reputation.

The same can’t be said about paid social posts. If you’re advertising on social media platforms, the window for building trust and engagement from a target audience is short. Social media ads, like any other form of paid media, are calls to action that are designed to convert people. As such, users spend less time engaging with your content and developing affinity with your brand.

Through humour and original thought, your organic social media posts can truly showcase your  brand personality and foster advocacy.

When done right, organic media fosters thought leadership

Thought leadership is often misconstrued as being confined to industry influencers guesting on a podcast or revered intellectuals writing market-disrupting guest articles.

If that’s what you were thinking, think again. 

Being a thought leader can be as simple as writing a powerful and evocative post LinkedIn that shifts the industry narrative. And organic social posting is built to do just that. Organic social media is purpose built to consolidate messages into a few hundred characters. This causes these messages to have a stronger impact, given their concise and more direct nature. 

Paid media, on the other hand, skips out thought leadership altogether and goes straight to conversion. If your company is smaller, and needs to establish itself as a serious industry player, then organic posts that accentuate what your business is all about helps you do exactly that. 

While every company worth its salt has some form of ads budget, very few correctly gauge what a healthy amount looks like. 

When done wrong, paid media on social media platforms runs at a loss. In fact, 62% of small business owners say that their Facebook ads are a failure. 

Why? Because businesses neglect their organic social communications. Not only are organic posts free, they build meaningful connections users that makes them warmer leads and more likely to become customers.

Final Thought: Isn’t the answer a healthy balance of both paid and organic?

In a nutshell, yes.

Social media marketing needs both paid and organic content to drive traffic to websites, develop industry credibility and convert prospects. There’s no doubt of the channel’s importance in a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Of course, paid media has the luxury of being able to target specific audiences and being time efficient while doing so. While it’s quicker to bring results towards the middle and bottom of your marketing funnel, organic social media does the heavy lifting towards the top, warming up prospects so that when they do convert, they are sales or marketing qualified.


Fraser Gillies

Fraser has been working in the digital communications space for four years. Currently the Head of Revenue at Publicize, he is leading a team of talented content creators to build powerful tech narratives that engage, educate and entertain audiences.