When it comes to social media, there are two parts at play: the organic and the paid. They can work together and they can work separately. But one of the questions I’m often asked is, “How do I know when to use one or the other, and what are the differences?”
Defining the Terms
When you post something without inputting any credit card information, you can consider that an organic post. This could be a regular post on Facebook or Instagram, a video post, a photo, some text on Twitter, etc. We refer to it as organic because we’re waiting to see the organic actions that people take with it. We’re not paying to put it in front of more people, and we’re waiting to see what happens.
Paid, on the other hand, is anything from boosted posts to ads manager (as Meta calls it). Anytime you are putting your credit card in their system and asking them to find new people, that would be a paid post.
When to Organically Post
So when would we use one or the other? And when should we use both? One of our rules is that no clients can pay for ads unless they’re already posting organically. Why? Because an empty feed will make customers question the legitimacy of a brand or company. We don’t want anyone asking, “Is this company real or is it a scam?”
Another reason why we love using organic is that it’s going to serve your current audience and foster community. The main people who will see your organic content are your existing audience, your community, and those following you. If anyone in those circles shares your content, then other people who follow them might see it, too. As you can see, it’s limited to the circles of who knows who, and your post probably won’t appear on some random person’s feed.
Paid Posts: Boosted vs Ads Manager
Paid posts are a way to reach new people. There are two parts: boosted posts and Ads Manager. If you post on a Facebook page, there’s usually a little blue button on your organic post that allows you to “boost” the post. This means you’re putting a little bit of money out there to an organic post that you’ve already made. This is where the two worlds collide: you’ve made an organic post, and you want more people to see it beyond your followers. You might boost that post and hope that it leads to more followers. It could also improve engagement by getting more people to like or comment on it.
Your Ads Manager is a whole different portal within your social media platform. You set up an ads account through Meta, you enter your credit card info, and then you can set up campaigns, each with different objectives. Ads manager gives you access to wider audiences and more customization for your campaign. If you want more likes and followers, you can do that through Ads Manager. If you want people to fill out a form, buy a product, or enter their information for a freebie, you can do that, too!
Organic + Ads = Growth!
Ads Manager is your money maker. Your organic posts are your way to serve people and nurture them. Then, you serve an ad to make that sale or get them to take an action. The ad is the call to action, whether it’s collecting their email, getting them to click, or actually getting them to buy—ads are the money maker.
The next question that you might be thinking is, “Oh, this is great. I’m glad I understand this. Where do I start?” That is a great question. Unfortunately, there’s no easy, one-size-fits-all solution because everyone has different objectives, products/services, and situations. But what I CAN recommend is to start small. Start figuring out what campaign objectives you want. Do you want views, clicks, sales, or leads? Do your graphics and captions match that call to action?
And then, how much do you want to spend per day? We usually start at $5 a day. That helps you start seeing if you are getting the results you want. Just remember—some people do this as their job, and if you want to get good results, it might be worth talking to an expert that can support your needs. At Stratos, we offer lead-generating ads, but we don’t manage ads for e-commerce businesses. Make sure you talk to someone because it might be worth your money and time to invest in an expert to run ads for you.
So now that we’ve talked through organic and paid, the next question is, how do you know when you’re ready? Great news: You can be ready anytime. If you’re not already posting consistently or scheduling your organic content, focus on that first and then figure out what objectives you want to work toward.
About the Author
Julia began Stratos to create a work environment that helped both clients and employees design lives that they enjoy. On the client side, she helps business owners make sure each of their marketing strategies work together to produce the results and revenue they want. On the employee side, she leads the team as we navigate the challenges and joys of working remotely.