Symbiosis of organic and paid social media posts

At a time when social media dominates, organic reach is dwindling and creating compelling content is becoming more challenging. How can companies ensure their content is seen and appreciated with a symbiosis of organic and paid posts?

We look back to 2010: Facebook is giving companies in our regions the freedom to create their own company pages. This step triggered unprecedented euphoria among companies of all sizes. In numerous company rooms, one could hear exclamations such as, "Now we also need a Facebook page," or "Company XY is already represented on Facebook, we absolutely have to follow suit!" It seemed as if everyone wanted to take advantage of this social network opportunity, and so everyone from local bakeries and butchers to craft businesses now have a Facebook page. Pages that were initially filled with a flood of content.

But reality set in: Far from being a no-brainer, effectively maintaining social media presences requires a lot of effort. And it's anything but free, because the need to create authentic and relevant content is an investment in both time and money. Especially as expectations of posts have changed dramatically. In 2011, the focus was still on a simple text post with a link, but now short video clips are expected - a format whose creation effort should not be underestimated. And so the initial enthusiasm for managing the Facebook page quickly evaporated.

This trend can also be seen with the launch of other social media platforms, such as Instagram in 2012 or TikTok in 2019. And let's not be fooled: This pattern will repeat itself in future social media platform launches. That's why Thomas Besmer, Head of Consulting & Growth at Hutter Consult AG, to the Webstage Masters on November 9, 2023, will talk in his keynote about how good content can be used in the future to tap into new target groups and thus improve results.

WebStage Masters is the largest social media marketing conference in Switzerland, which will take place for the sixth time on November 8 and 9. For the first time, the conference will be held in the breathtaking mountain setting of Engelberg - the village can be reached from all major cities in less than two hours! Do you also want to be there? Then secure your ticket now at

Even more than a decade after Facebook's debut, numerous companies are still navigating the vastness of the social media landscape quite disoriented. They cling to metrics like engagement rates or subscriber numbers and try to define and increase them as a goal. But the bitter truth is that these metrics have little to no impact on a company's business objectives. Who in a company can say exactly how much revenue a single subscriber generates per year? The answer is obvious: virtually no one.

There is also the challenge of organic reach. In 2011, a company post still reached around 80% of its subscribers. Today, this value has been reduced to just 5 to 15%. Which means that out of 1,000 subscribers, barely more than 100 get to see the post. If a company wants to reach a broader target group, it would have to advertise the post. But under these conditions, wouldn't it make more sense to publish a paid post right from the start that is directly geared towards business goals such as traffic generation, leads, conversions or sales?

Before we turn to how organic posts can support paid advertising efforts, we need to understand why both formats are important.

Organic posts are the backbone of an authentic social media presence and offer companies the opportunity to build an honest, authentic and sustainable relationship with their target audience. They allow for flexible and responsive communication and can thus create a closer bond with the target group.

Paid advertising campaigns, on the other hand, are powerful catalysts that offer measurable results and reach. They enable brands to target specific audiences and ensure that messages are seen. At the same time, they are excellent for achieving specific business objectives such as lead generation, revenue growth or brand awareness quickly and in a targeted manner.

When combined, these two formats create a balanced and dynamic ecosystem that maximizes reach through paid advertising while maintaining brand integrity and increasing engagement through organic posts.

Now the essential question arises: How can these two formats be optimally linked to create a holistic social media ecosystem? To answer this question, it is first crucial to answer three fundamental questions about organic posts

Three questions that each organic contribution must answer

Before publishing an organic post, there are three essential questions to address:

  • Who do I want to address?
    The target group analysis is indispensable. How is the target audience defined? What are their specific needs, likes and dislikes? A blanket answer such as "Our subscribers" is not enough, because even within this circle, diverse and differentiated interests exist.
  • What do I want to communicate?
    Every post must have a clear goal or unambiguous message. Whether it's explaining an innovative product, sharing expertise, or reinforcing brand identity, clarity and consistency are key.
  • What action do I expect the recipients to take?
    Whether you want to encourage the recipient of the post to click on a link, purchase a product, or interact by sharing or commenting, a well thought-out call-to-action (CTA) is key.

Once these three questions have been answered, nothing stands in the way of publishing the organic contribution. A post that is addressed according to the specifications from the answers formed from them will undoubtedly be classified as relevant for the target group. And relevance is the key to successful delivery by the algorithm. By the way: Of course, these considerations apply equally to paid posts to ensure maximum effectiveness and reach.

Cross-pollinate paid posts with organic posts

So how can organic posts fully unleash the potential of paid posts? The answer varies by platform, with Instagram and Facebook leading the way. Meta's advertising solutions for these platforms set standards and often find imitators in other social networks. One key to success here is the so-called "Interaction Custom Audiences," which are based on user behavior. These audiences group together users who have performed certain actions on the platform, such as video views or interactions with posts. Since these activities take place directly on the platforms, they are unaffected by tracking restrictions such as Cookie Consent or Apple Tracking Transparency. As a result, nearly 100% of the interactions can be used for targeting.

Let's take some real-world examples to illustrate this:

  • A tourism organization meticulously maintains its Instagram account and posts stunning images from the region on a daily basis. By creating a custom audience of people who have interacted with the posts in the last 365 days, it can target ads for regional offerings without cluttering its Instagram account with promotional content.
  • A financial institution offers weekly financial tips for young adults in the form of videos or reels. By using Interaction Custom Audiences, it can identify people who show great interest in these tips and attract them for a consultation by means of advertising.
  • An online store offers a kind of shopping advice via Instagram messages. All people who have interacted via this medium in the last few days can be included in a Custom Audience and targeted, i.e. addressed again.

These examples illustrate very well how organic content and activities on the platforms can be used specifically for advertising measures. If companies use their organic content strategically, for example to entertain, inspire, or increase brand awareness, they can not only complement this effect, but increase it exponentially through targeted audience building and advertising measures.

So here's a final tip: Those who define clear goals for their posts or their social media channels create the basis for targeted Custom Audiences and thus for effective paid advertising measures. This not only enables the achievement of soft metrics such as engagement and subscriber numbers, but also paves the way for the realization of concrete business objectives such as new customer acquisition, increased sales and lead generation. The possibilities and thus the resulting potential are manifold.

*The article was written in collaboration with the WebStage Masters created. 

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