This is a question I get asked a lot: what are the benefits of paid advertising on social media versus organic engagement and growth?
Truth be told, I really don’t put much faith in using organic strategies for engaging people on social media. What I mean by organic growth is posting content onto something like Twitter and then hoping it gets the attention of my followers, and in turn their friends and followers. It is at the heart of the idea of “going viral” online.
I can honestly say that I can count on two hands the number of articles, videos and other content I have posted on the internet in the last 12 years that has gone viral. And yes, I will be the first to admit that a lot of things I have posted over the years were crap, but for the most part I have always tried my best to post high-quality, relevant and informative content. I can also tell you that the content I thought for sure would go viral was never the content that actually did go viral.
But here’s the thing: even with those articles that did go viral and were seen by millions, I have always questioned what the impact of those articles was. Were they get seen by the right people, to invoke the change I was looking for? I honestly don’t know.
This is where paid targeting comes in.
On platforms like Facebook, for as little as a $1 a day, I can choose to target people based on demographics and behaviour. For instance, I could target this blog post to people interested in blogging, social media and other related interests, and also narrow it down so this post is only promoted to people living in Manhattan. Even more specifically I could target this post to people living within a 1km radius of a specific place in Manhattan. I am now ensuring that my content is getting in front of the right people in the right place.
Another huge benefit to paid promotion is that it is efficient. The amount of time and resources it takes to find your target audience online and then reach out to those people directly in the hopes they will read your content or follow you on something like Twitter is MASSIVE. On top of that, at least in my experience, most of that outreach goes completely ignored by the recipient.
I honestly wish that all that I have outlined in this post was not the case.
Back when social media first became a thing, it was much easier to build web traffic and social media followings organically. But when companies like Twitter and Facebook needed to figure out how to make money, they downgraded organic growth in their algorithms and ratcheted up promoted content. And given the empires people like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have created, this will likely never change.