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To Optimize or To Advertise? The Pros and Cons of Organic vs. Paid Social Media


They say “the best things in life are free.” Sure… sunsets, laughing, and perfect weather are pretty awesome, but so are things that cost money— concerts, plane tickets, luxury vehicles etc.

So is free stuff better, or things that come at a cost? Both have their perks and downsides. The same can be said for organic vs. paid social media.

The pros of organic social media

It’s technically free.
You can directly engage with and assist your customers. A well-maintained, active profile gives customers an accessible location to post concerns, complaints, and compliments.
It allows you to establish a brand identity, personality, and a sense of humor— making you much more relatable. Not sure what I mean? Google ‘Wendy’s twitter roasts.’

The cons of organic social media

It can be incredibly time-consuming.
Social media algorithms can be difficult to grasp and master, but understanding them is crucial or your content could get lost.
Your content will only go as far as your followers take it. Meaning, if your followers don’t share your stuff it won’t be exposed to new people, and forget targeting a specific demographic.

The pros of paid social media

Paid advertising allows you to pinpoint specific groups and expand your reach. You can target people by gender, location, age, interests and then some.
Its payment model can work for any budget. Establishing a spending cap will ensure that your budget is never exceeded, and in many instances, you only have to pay for users who interact directly with your content.
The results are more immediate.

The cons of paid social media

Your investment may not yield meaningful results. Just because you’re paying money doesn’t mean your advertising campaign will be successful.
The landscape can be very competitive. Some target demographics will have much higher rates than others.
You must constantly monitor paid social campaigns to get the most out of them. This involves consistently analyzing data and adjusting everything accordingly.

So… to optimize or to advertise?

It’s impossible to say which is better without having a particular business in mind. Ideally, you’d incorporate both methods. Leverage paid social media to immediately draw a new audience to your profiles, and then convert them to customers with thoughtful organic content.