Organic vs Paid Social: What works best?

As a digital marketing agency, we often encounter biased opinions about either paid or organic social media marketing. So, what’s best between the two? Well, here’s the thing – you should not be choosing between the two options, you should be investing in both to run a successful social marketing campaign!

Let’s rewind. It’s 2011 and you’re marketing your brand with an organic strategy only, and perhaps even boosting posts here or there (with no great targeting really), and all is going great! Yup, we miss those days too… or wait, do we?

Currently we know MUCH MORE about social media marketing than before, and we can take advantage of this to elevate brands to a digital level that we couldn’t have imagined ten years ago! Let’s look at it this way: According to Hootsuite, global ad spend is projected to exceed 173 billion dollars in 2022! And it proves that social media ad spending is here to stay… And, with a honed organic strategy, you could be working with a winning recipe!

What is paid and organic social media?

Organic social is any social media activity without a paid promotion (think of an Instagram post or Reel, a Facebook video, a Tweet or a Pin).

Paid social refers to anything on social media that’s influenced by advertising budget – and this usually stems from your organic content – in other words, advertisements or sponsored posts that brands pay a social network to display to audiences beyond their followers.

Organic Content

Now that we have that covered, let’s start with organic content on social media (as you should be doing!). Often, the only way that you’re going to maintain your target audience is through organically building brand awareness and earning trust.

It’s your chance to develop an authentic relationship with potential customers. You also need to come across as a fully formed brand that can show off its exclusive ‘personality’. That’ll help your business to get people to engage with your brand on deeper levels. Remember, people that grew up with digital can see right through digital inauthenticity.

Let’s explain it this way: Imagine you’re running a Facebook ad, and people notice your brand a few times. One day they visit your brand on social media – and then they see your last post is from 2019… or perhaps none of your organic content even looks or speaks like your paid content. Now that’s awkward! This is a prospective customer or client, and you just lost them as you’re not keeping your social pages updated (like a mini version of your website) with great and relevant organic content.

Here are some of our favourite benefits of organic content:

  • Organic social is free (in a sense – it does take time to create and post)
  • Create your brand narrative, brand awareness, and increase product knowledge
  • Use it to maintain and grow a relationship with your followers or audience
  • Ask your audience questions to understand their wants and needs
  • Build a community of like-minded individuals who share your company values
  • Establish trust and demonstrate transparency
  • Encourage user-generated content (UGC)
  • Use organic as a means of testing quality of content

Creating valuable organic content can be very time consuming, with our Social Media Template Package, you’ll receive a social media strategy as well as feed templates, Story templates and highlight covers, and Reels covers – professionally designed and built in Canva (you only need a free account). As part of this package, you also receive training on how to use your templates to create your own organic content.

Paid Campaigns

Paid social media is a way to build on your organic content and take your brand into the next level of advertising. Since 2011, paid social media has come a long way, and with an ongoing strategy you can do incredible things in terms of audience targeting, testing, and reinforcing your strategy month-to-month with instant, measurable results!

Here are some of the top benefits when it comes to paid social:

  • Reach NEW people within your target audience beyond the boundaries of organic
  • Use paid campaigns to reinforce the values and messaging that you release through organic social
  • Increase content engagement
  • Leverage audience targeting to tap into the precise shoppers/audience that you want to reach
  • Test different ad campaigns to see what works best for your brand
  • Get insights (measure leads or sales) and analytics to see your ROI (return on investment)

Campaigns you should consider:

  1. Brand awareness campaign (making potential clients aware of your brand)
  2. Web traffic ads (driving brand awareness traffic to your website)
  3. Lead generation ads (targeting a specific audience for leads va Facebook/Instagram)
  4. Conversion campaigns (promoting specific products and promoting sales)
  5. Video ads (to get a certain audience to watch your videos, plus building audiences)
  6. Value add campaigns – such as offering a bundle/percentage discount (retargeting a warm/hot audience)

We offer various Social Media Advertising Packages; click here to learn more.


Complete marketing approaches to social media are less about paid social vs. organic social; instead, you should combine the power of the two to work together harmoniously. As organic reach continues to diminish across social platforms, it’s increasingly important to invest in paid social opportunities to reach a broader audience.

However, as it’s been proven over and over, organic social is necessary for ongoing success – especially with an audience that’s increasingly becoming smarter regarding all things digital. If you focus on adding value rather than bombarding existing or new audiences with paid, hard-sale ads only, your combined (or hybrid) strategy will elevate your brand.

In the end, paid social vs. organic social is an unrealistic choice to make. The modern digital marketing approach that genuinely pays off combines these two approaches in a way that makes each one stronger than if they were to be implemented independently.

Here’s a PRO TIP: For both paid and organic social, make sure that you keep track of analytics to determine your results and how to approach your strategy in future.

Do you need assistance with either your organic or paid ad campaigns? Get in touch with us today for a quotation: +27 79 896 1593 or

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