Paid social Vs. Organic social media

Understanding and leveraging both for maximum impact on social media

Published: 28 May 2024

Last updated: 07 Jun 2024

Read time: minutes


We all know that social media stands as a powerful tool for businesses to connect with their audience, build brand awareness, and drive sales. However, the key differences and strategic advantages of both paid and organic social media efforts should be understood and attacked by businesses. This blog explores the differences of paid social vs. organic social, and defines how leveraging both can maximise your business's impact on social media.

What is organic social media?

Organic social media refers to the free content that businesses share on their social media profiles, including posts, stories, videos, and updates. This content is visible to your followers and, depending on engagement levels, can reach a broader audience through shares, likes, and comments.

Advantages of organic social

  • Cost-effective:
    Organic social media requires minimal financial investment, making it accessible for businesses of all sizes. This makes it an ideal starting point for businesses with limited marketing budgets.

  • Builds authentic relationships:
    Engaging directly with your audience through comments, likes, and shares fosters a sense of community and trust. Authentic interactions can lead to long-term customer loyalty.

  • Long-term value:
    Consistent posting of valuable content can enhance your brand's presence and authority over time. As your follower base grows, your organic reach can expand exponentially.

Disadvantages of organic social

  • Limited reach:
    Without paying for promotion, your content is primarily seen by your existing followers and their immediate networks. Organic reach on platforms like Facebook has declined over the years.

  • Slow growth:
    Building an audience organically takes time and effort. It may take months or even years to achieve significant reach and engagement.

  • Algorithm dependence:
    Organic content visibility is heavily influenced by platform algorithms, which prioritise posts based on engagement, relevance, and recency. This can be unpredictable and may require constant adaptation.

Actionable tips for organic social

  • Post regularly:
    Maintain a consistent posting schedule to keep your audience engaged and informed. 

  • Engage with followers:
    Respond to comments and messages to build relationships and encourage more interaction. Host live sessions, Q&As, and polls to engage directly with your audience.

  • Share valuable content:
    Focus on creating content that provides value, whether through education, entertainment, or inspiration. User-generated content and testimonials can also enhance authenticity and engagement.

What is paid social media?

Paid social media involves advertising on social platforms, where businesses pay to display their content to targeted audiences. This includes formats like sponsored posts, display ads, and video ads.

Advantages of paid social

  • Immediate reach:
    Social media ads can quickly extend your reach beyond your existing followers, targeting specific demographics, interests, and behaviours. This is especially beneficial for new businesses looking to gain visibility fast.

  • Targeted advertising:
    Advanced targeting options allow you to deliver your message to the most relevant audience, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversions. You can target users based on age, gender, location, interests, behaviours, and even life events.

  • Measurable results:
    Paid campaigns offer robust analytics to track performance, optimise strategies, and measure ROI. This data-driven approach allows for precise adjustments to improve campaign effectiveness.

Disadvantages of paid social

  • Cost:
    Running paid social media campaigns requires a financial investment, which can be significant depending on your goals and audience size. Businesses must budget for ongoing expenses to maintain visibility.

  • Ad fatigue:
    Users can become overwhelmed by ads, leading to ad fatigue where they start ignoring or negatively reacting to ads. This necessitates frequent updates and creative refreshes.

  • Short-term focus:
    Paid campaigns deliver immediate results but require continuous investment. Once you stop paying, your visibility diminishes, unlike organic content that can continue to attract engagement over time.

Actionable tips for paid social

  • Define clear goals:
    Establish what you want to achieve with your paid campaigns, whether it's brand awareness, lead generation, or sales. Clear objectives guide campaign design and measurement.

  • Target strategically:
    Use the targeting options available to hone in on your ideal audience, considering factors like age, location, interests, and behaviours. Create custom audiences based on website visitors, email subscribers, or lookalike audiences.

  • Monitor and adjust:
    Regularly review campaign performance and adjust your strategies based on data insights to optimise results. Use A/B testing to experiment with different ad creatives, copy, and targeting options.

Organic vs. paid - key differences


  • Organic reach:
    Limited primarily to your followers and their networks. Organic reach depends heavily on engagement metrics and the platform's algorithm.

  • Paid reach:
    Can be extended to a broader, targeted audience beyond your followers. Paid reach ensures your content is seen by specific groups that fit your ideal customer profile.


  • Organic social:
    Free, but requires significant time and effort to create and manage content. The primary investment is in content creation and community management.

  • Paid social:
    Involves financial investment but provides faster, scalable results. Costs vary based on bidding strategies, ad formats, and competition.


  • Organic social:
    Fosters deeper, more authentic engagement. Users interacting with organic content are typically more genuinely interested in the brand.

  • Paid social:
    Can drive immediate action but may feel less personal. Paid ads often have a more transactional nature and require compelling creatives to engage users effectively.

Content Lifespan

  • Organic social:
    Content can continue to attract engagement over time, especially if it’s evergreen or highly shareable. The longevity of content depends on its relevance and value to the audience.

  • Paid social:
    Content visibility is limited to the duration of the campaign. Once the budget is exhausted or the campaign ends, the ad stops being shown.

Leveraging both for maximum impact

Integrated social media strategy

Combine both paid and organic efforts to create a comprehensive social media strategy. Use organic posts to build relationships and trust, and leverage paid ads to amplify your reach and drive specific actions.

A restaurant for example, could use organic posts to share daily specials, behind-the-scenes videos, and customer testimonials, while running paid ads to promote seasonal promotions or special events to a broader audience.

Use organic insights for paid campaigns

Analyse which organic posts perform best and use these insights to inform your paid social strategy. High-performing organic content can be turned into paid ads to reach a wider audience.

If an organic post about a new product launch receives high engagement, consider boosting that post with paid promotion to reach a larger audience.


Use paid social to retarget users who have engaged with your organic content. This keeps your brand top-of-mind and encourages further interaction or conversion.

For example, a fitness studio could retarget users who have liked or commented on their organic posts with ads offering a free trial class or a discounted membership.

Content variety

Diversify your content strategy to include a mix of organic posts (such as behind-the-scenes, user-generated content, and community engagement) and paid ads (such as promotions, special offers, and targeted campaigns).

Measure and optimise

Regularly analyse the performance of both your organic and paid social efforts. Use this data to refine your strategies, ensuring that you are maximising your impact and achieving your goals.

Use tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and LinkedIn Analytics to track engagement, click-through rates, and conversion metrics. Adjust your content and ad strategies based on what the data reveals about your audience’s preferences and behaviours.


Understanding the distinct roles and benefits of paid and organic social media is essential for crafting a successful digital marketing strategy. By leveraging the strengths of both approaches, you can build a robust online presence, engage with your audience authentically, and drive meaningful results for your business. Start integrating your paid and organic social strategies today, and watch your social media impact soar.

By mastering the balance between paid and organic social efforts, you can create a dynamic, multi-faceted approach that not only reaches but also resonates with your audience.

Ready to take your social media game to new levels? Let's harness the power of paid and organic to take your business to new heights! Get in touch today to see how BuiltForYou can help. 

View All Share

Ready to get started >

Get a fast and free quote or book a no obligation chat with our team to see how we can tailor a package to put your business on the road to success.