Why brands need to keep their paid and organic social talking

17th June 2024

It’s common amongst brands and agencies to separate their paid and organic social activity, to the extent that they have entirely separate teams working on each, with little interaction or shared experience.

Typically, the organic team focuses on top-of-funnel brand-building and the paid team focuses on bottom-of-funnel conversion. And never the twain shall meet.

So, if this has become the norm, why is it wrong?

The popularity of the organic vs paid structure belies just how at odds it is with the audience’s experience. There’s not one feed for paid content and one feed for organic – to a user, they both exist within the same environment.

If a team has spent a long time crafting a personality and content on social that actually engages people organically, it’s counter-intuitive to not put some targeted paid behind that content to surface it to your target audience. Leaving such ‘gold dust’ content purely to the consumption of a small percentage of people who like a brand enough to click the ‘follow’ button, or to the vagaries of the algorithm, is a missed opportunity. And of course, targeting your desired audience with paid might also convert them into a ‘follower’, in true quid-pro-quo style.

The content that is developed by ‘organic’ teams is typically the content that is designed to create favourability, drive engagement and build brands. It’s not directly attributable to a last-click-sale but there’s been countless studies into the positive impact of awareness and engagement on over-arching brand metrics. You may as well get value for money and surface the stuff you’ve spent time and money creating to the right people.

Putting paid media behind content is also the best way of testing its efficacy, because you’re removing (as much as you can) uncontrollable factors like time of day and competition in the feed. With paid, you can start all content off on a level playing field with a baseline audience and test all manner of factors from topics to CTAs to see what produces the best results against your objective.

Top-of-funnel, traditionally ‘organic’ content, can also be used to create warm audiences for conversion-focused paid. If you take a full funnel paid approach, then you can re-target audiences that interact with your top-of-funnel content as a key element of your paid strategy. This is more cost effective, as you’re not purely going cold with conversion: you’re utilising your ready-made warm audience. This is particularly important when it’s not an FMCG, or low-barrier-to-purchase product that you’re promoting.

Having a more integrated approach to social across the entire funnel, that maximises value, isn’t a question of more budget, it’s a question of distribution of budget. And, remembering that time/salaries spent on top-of-funnel ‘organic’ content is still budget.

Of course, more spend should go on conversion but don’t let your top-of-funnel work live an entirely separate existence. To use a phrase coined by Mark Ritson, ‘bothism’ is key and can create a match made in heaven.

By Ruth Lee, Senior Director at Citypress

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