Is Organic Social Media Marketing Still Worth It?
Over the course of the past 2 or 3 years, Facebook has consistently updated their newsfeed algorithm in order to decrease the organic reach of brands using the site for promotional purposes. This isn’t exactly surprising — Facebook, like all major social media sites, makes its profits through advertising. And decreasing unpaid organic reach incentivizes marketers to opt for paid promotion.
Even for those of us who saw this move coming, however, adapting to a new social media strategy can be challenging. (Especially when that new strategy could require dishing out big bucks to access a marketing channel that was once free.) And the hard reality of the times is that Facebook is not an anomaly. Most other major social networking sites — including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram — are following in Facebook’s footsteps and prioritizing paid advertising over organic content.
How do these changes affect you and your online audiences? What are the pros and cons of organic content? And how should your company adjust its social media marketing strategy for the future? Read on for the answers to these questions and more.
How Exactly Has the Newsfeed Algorithm Changed?
Online companies tend to guard the secrets of their algorithms quite carefully, which leaves marketing experts using logic, deduction, and a bit of gut instinct as they muse upon the inner workings of sites such as Facebook and Google. Even though the finer details of the newsfeed algorithm (and its counterparts) are bound to remain unknown, it is still pretty safe to make a few general assumptions. Here are a few of the most impactful ways that sites like Facebook ensure that organic content takes the backseat to paid advertising:
• Ad Prioritization. We will begin with the most obvious factor: Facebook simply displays more ads in our newsfeeds than it did in the past — and it ranks those ads higher to ensure that they appear in front of other, organic content. It is worth pointing out, however, that there are a couple of subtler algorithm changes that also contribute to the decline of organic content. These include…
• People over Brands. If you have been using social media for a while, you may remember a time when many companies created personal accounts (rather than brand pages) for their social media campaigns. In 2014, however, Facebook cracked down on this practice, forcing companies to switch over to brand pages. The motivation behind this change was simple: Facebook wanted to prioritize posts by humans over posts by companies in order to make the site more engaging while also decreasing organic traffic for brands. (Who would then be encouraged to advertise instead.)
• User input. Facebook allows users to update their own news feed preferences — and increased user customization is not the only benefit to this practice. Facebook assumes that the majority of users will choose to further prioritize people over brands, thus decreasing organic reach of social media marketing efforts even further.
More Downside of Organic Content
These algorithm changes are not the only reasons why some marketers are down on organic content. A couple other common concerns include the following:
• Organic content is not cost-free. After all, although there is no charge for posting organic content, creating it can still incur costs. Hiring writers, graphic designers, and social media assistants are good examples of this. Even if you create the content yourself, there are still opportunity cost to reckon with!
• Further algorithm changes could be coming. Social media sites are constantly updating their algorithms — and no one can be totally sure if future changes will cause further harm to existing organic strategies.
• Preaching to the Choir. Companies that are aggressively focused on customer acquisition — rather than customer relationship management — might be inclined to focus on advertising from the start. After all, organic content is primarily viewed by existing followers, whereas ads allow you to reach new audiences.
Why Organic Content Still Matters
Clearly, there are some challenges facing organic social media content marketing. This leaves many business owners and marketers wondering: is organic content still worth my time and money? Or should I focus my efforts of social media advertising?
Of course, social media strategy is different for every company — and there are no universal answers. All the same, our opinion here at Bearly Marketing is that organic content can work well for almost every company out there. For most businesses, a diversified marketing approach incorporating many channels will garner optimal results. Which is why a combination of organic and paid social media content could be ideal.
At any rate, here are a few of the most important reasons why we believe that organic content is still relevant and effective:
• Social Media Networks Will Never Let Organic Content Die. Yes, as we mentioned before, social media sites earn their money with advertising — and this is the motive behind their de-incentivizing of organic marketing. However, organic marketing still plays an important role in attracting brands to social media in the first place. (The notion of reaching a wide audience for free is an attractive one, after all!) Sites like Facebook will always ensure that organic marketing is effective enough that companies continue creating pages and connecting with audiences for free.
• Organic Content Can Be Recycled Across the Web. Your website, the company blog, your other social media pages, and even your ad campaigns — there are many ways to use and reuse your organic content. And this helps ensure that content creation remains a worthwhile investment of time and money, regardless of any social media algorithm changes.
• Audiences Trust Organic Content More. Authenticity in marketing is a must in today’s world. And this places social media advertisements at a disadvantage compared with organic content. Audiences are more likely to respond positively to a post created by a company that they follow than a random advertisement that appears in their feed.
• Organic Content Promotes Brand Validation. Many customers (especially in e-commerce) make a visit to a company’s social media platforms before deciding upon a purchase. And ensuring that your page is full of engaging content rather than empty and unused will help make your business appear more professional and intriguing.
For more information on the value of organic marketing, along with content creation tips, social media management advice, and much more, visit Bearly Marketing online today!