By now, you’re well aware of the decline in organic reach on social, and may already be working with clients to help them adjust their social media strategy to compensate for these changing dynamics.

The decline of organic reach has been well-documented, with most estimates focusing on the shifting algorithms of social media giant, Facebook. A widely-referenced study by social@Ogilvy notes that Facebook’s organic reach is destined to hit zero, showing that reach dropped 49 percent between 2012 and 2014. The report put organic reach at 6 percent for pages with less than 500,000 Likes, and two percent for pages with a higher number of Likes. Today’s reports show that organic reach continues to drop.

At the same time, US social media advertising revenue is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.9 percent through 2020, notes BI Intelligence in its US Digital Media Ad Spend Report.

As the social landscape continues to morph, businesses have been forced to find new ways to cut through the digital noise to reach their customers and prospects.

International research firm Gartner states that sustained success in social marketing now requires paid advertising, reporting that 80 percent of social media marketers state they already have or will implement social media advertising programs.

If you’ve not started already, it’s time to help your clients get their social houses in order, and find the right balance between organic activity and paid social advertising.

Organic, Sponsored/Boosted Content, Social Ads: Better Together

Just because organic reach has declined, doesn’t mean clients should do away with their organic activities. Today’s savvy marketing leaders understand that, in order to get the most from their social media presence, they’ll need to combine the long-term benefits of organic growth and engagement tactics with short-term conversion lifts of paid social.

It is rare for social media marketers at larger organizations to do one without the other, notes research firm Clutch, in its Social Media Marketing Survey 2016. The report goes on to state that 86 percent of survey respondents use a combination of both forms of social marketing.

Organic Social: The Foundation

Organic activity still serves as the foundation for a brands social presence. Although organic content is no longer effective as a content distribution strategy, genuine community engagement remains a great way for brands to build long-term relationships with their customers and prospects.

Nevertheless, this is still far from a universally held belief. Social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk feels differently. In this article, he dismisses the notion that social media only works when you spend money, arguing instead that although the game is changing, great content still reigns supreme.

If you are not crushing it and focusing on the content that you put out on the most important social platforms, you’re going to become mute and obsolete in the modern day of doing business, he writes.

Another huge benefit of organic social that many marketers might not realize is that its the perfect testing ground for paid advertising. Before letting go of those advertising dollars, clients should conduct testing around different versions of organic posts and use the results to determine which content to add to the paid mix.

For all that brands can gain from organic social, however, constantly changing algorithms from various social platforms have made it difficult for businesses to reach their targeted audience. This is where paid social, including sponsored and other paid content, comes in. Paid ads can help brands strengthen messaging they’ve already shared organically, and better target their ideal customers.

Promoted Content: Taking It Up a Notch

Whether you’re sharing killer content or a brand new offer, if you want to maximize the chances that your post will reach your target audience, giving it a paid boost is the best way to go. Because of their ability to target a brands optimal audience, sponsored posts have effectively replaced organic posting for the purposes of content distribution and lead generation, although companies may use these posts to drive engagement and awareness, as well. Depending on the platform, sponsored posts may also be referred to as boosted or promoted posts.

When brands boost a post on Facebook or promote one on Twitter, for example, they pay to have their content show up higher on Facebook News Feeds, or on the Twitter timelines of those who are not followers. LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest also offer the option to promote posts.

Brands that are most successful with this kind of advertising choose their best-performing organic posts to boost or promote so they can stretch their ad dollars further. After all, if people are engaging and sharing organically, depending on a brands objectives, it makes sense to build on that success rather than shelling out more budget for new creative.

One thing to keep in mind is that different platforms include different targeting abilities, so you should help your clients evaluate whether they’ll get better results boosting an existing post, or creating new social ads.

Social Advertising: Refining Targeted Reach

In addition to boosted and promoted content, employing other types of social advertising can help brands fulfill more aggressive and ROI-based marketing objectives. Offering more robust goal-setting and targeting capabilities, social advertising is typically more focused on demand generation, as well as driving conversions.

For example, with Facebook’s News Feed ads, brands can set campaign objectives around brand awareness, website clicks, lead generation, engagement, and conversion, among others. Targeting capabilities include demographics, interests, and behaviors, as well as the ability to create custom audiences. Finally, Facebook includes several ad formatting options, including single image or video, carousel with multiple images, slideshows or a combination of images and video.

Using Twitter, brands can build campaigns around followers, engagement, app promotion and web traffic. In addition to promoted Tweets, brands can promote their accounts to gain followers, and pay to be placed at the top of the Twitter trends topics list. Advertisers can target audiences based on keywords and interests, including tv shows people watch, or events they like to attend. Twitter also offers the ability to create tailored audiences based on a brands own email list or web analytics.

Other platforms offer similar targeting capabilities, making social advertising a powerful way to meet the social media marketing objectives of your clients.

The Bottom Line

The decline of organic reach certainly requires a shift in strategy, as it underscores the importance of sponsored content. But its also important to remember that social media, unlike traditional media, represents an opportunity to build a community. In this sense, the basic principles of social success remain.

 

Learn more best practices for social media marketing in our

Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing

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