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Paid vs. Organic Social Media: Which to Use When and Why [INFOGRAPHIC]

Determining when to use paid or organic social media and why to use it is a critical step when crafting your social media strategy.

8 mins read time
Sidney Deboever
Sidney Deboever

Jan 19, 2023

Organic social media is social media activity that doesn't include a paid promotion. It uses free social media to engage with the audience. Paid social media means just what you would assume it means: It's something you pay for. Most social strategies are a hybrid of organic and paid media. Let's better understand paid vs. organic social so you can create a strategy that works best for your brand.

Why Organic Social Media

Organic social media is content that's shown only to your followers. It helps you engage directly with your consumer and establish a genuine connection because you are engaging with those who already have found value in your brand. When utilizing organic content, you can expect your followers to see the content, your followers' followers to see the content, and anyone following hashtags you use to see the content.


Some of the benefits of organic social media include:

  • It's budget-friendly because it's free.
  • It helps build your brand.
  • It establishes a reputation with your audience.


Did Someone Say Free?

When a brand just starts out, free marketing sounds like music to a marketer's ears. They may not have the budget just yet for paid media, so organic social is the next best thing. It's free to post on all social media platforms, so you can get the word out about your brand and share your content with your followers. The average organic reach rate for Facebook is 8.6%, while Instagram's is 13.51%.

Reach rate is the amount of viewers who see your content. Organic reach rate is the amount of viewers who see your content when you make a post — no boosting, no promoting, just you making your everyday post. As your reach increases, it naturally leads to more brand awareness. More brand awareness can then lead to more engagement and have a trickle-down effect of more website visits, more leads, and more customers.


When to Use Organic Social Media

You Want to Build Your Brand

Whether it's organic or paid social, building your brand using social media is an essential part of any marketing strategy. Organic social allows you to truly listen to your audience and use their observations to make improvements. It also helps you build a community of like-minded individuals who share your brand's values. This allows you to establish trust and transparency while you share your brand's story.

Building your brand first through organic social media will help ensure you are reaching the right people with the right information as you one day invest in paid social media.


You Want to Manage Your Brand's Reputation

Many don't realize how important reputation management is. With the rising influence of Google Reviews, Yelp, Facebook reviews, and others, it is easier than ever for customers to create an image of your brand in their head based on your reviews.

Whether the reviews are good or bad, someone from your brand should be responding to boost confidence in your brand. The great thing about organic social is that it allows you to reply directly to your customers. Don't just take our word for it, here are some important stats about online reputation management:

  • Negative reviews have a direct impact on customers — 60% of consumers say it made them not want to use a business.
  • On average, consumers read seven reviews before putting trust in a brand.
  • Online reviews of a brand are trusted as much as personal recommendations.
  • Nearly 100% of consumers research local businesses online.
  • A company is trusted more if it has positive reviews.


Why Paid Social Media

In 2022, social media ad spend topped $154 billion. Here's why: Paid social media allows your content to break through algorithms on social media platforms to ensure your content is seen. Due to these algorithms, organic reach is often limited.

How does it work, though? You determine an ad spend budget, and it gets used up as more people view and click on your ad. Not only do you need to determine a budget, but you also have to determine which type of ad to use and on which platforms. For example, you can boost a post on Facebook, pay for an ad on Instagram, or pay for an ad on Pinterest, just to name a few.



Benefits of paid social media include:

  • Because it's paid, it's guaranteed reach.
  • You can learn who your audience really is.
  • You can reinforce your brand's values and messaging.



Top Platforms for Paid Social Media

Paid social media should be used when you have a content offering that is continuously converting and to boost brand awareness. It's a way to reach those you simply could never reach through organic social media. The five most popular social media platforms to use for paid media are:


When to Use Paid Social Media

You Want Guaranteed Reach

Paid social media guarantees that your brand will be seen while still working within your budget. Social media platforms have perfectly curated algorithms that paid advertising can break through, allowing more people to see your content. Here are paid social media statistics that will encourage you to jump aboard the paid advertising train:

  • In 2022, video ad spending grew to $24.35 billion, up from $20.28 billion in 2021.
  • Social media accounted for 33% of all digital ad spend in 2022.
  • The potential reach of Instagram ads is 1.8 billion people.
  • Over 562 million people have the potential to be targeted by Facebook ads.
  • Ad revenue on Twitter exceeded $1.4 billion in 2022.
  • TikTok ads have the potential to reach 885 million people.


You Want to Learn Who Your Audience Really Is

The amount of data you can collect from paid social media is astounding. It is critical data that can help drive sales, messaging, and your future ads. After you run an ad, you can see analytics such as which gender interacted the most with the content, the average age of your audience, where your audience lives, which ad got the best results, and more. This is all great insight to help you plan for your future advertising.


You Want to Reinforce Brand Values and Messaging

Since you can directly target your customers through paid advertising, you can craft your content to what you think is most important for them to see. In many cases, it's a great way to share your brand values and messaging. Giving insight into what makes you you is a great way to build a loyal following. Having a loyal following means you can be sure that your other promoted content is resonating with the correct audience and those who truly care about your brand.


Your social media strategy doesn't have to be organic vs. paid social, they can work cohesively together and be an organic and paid social media strategy. In fact, to receive the most benefits from each, it's encouraged to have a hybrid social media strategy that includes a mix of paid and organic social. We are confident that by implementing paid and/or organic social, you will reap the benefits of social media marketing.

Expert Social Media Services  Build an inbound marketing plan that includes engaging social media. We can  help with both your brand's social strategy and social media management.  Learn More

Sidney Deboever

Sidney is a growth marketing expert with over 8 years of experience in paid media. She has worked in a variety of channels, from Meta to TikTok to Google. Sidney lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband. In her free time. she enjoys skiing, hiking, exploring local breweries, and baking lots and lots of bread.

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