Paid vs. Organic

Attention on social is a reward, not a right

14 September 2017

Discussing the battle for attention between paid and organic social content on Facebook.

By Jemma Tengdahl, Social Strategist for Y&R Brisbane


The divide between paid and organic social content is a discussion topic which is worthwhile exploring as it is often met with varying opinions within the social space. Which is more important? How to strike the right balance?

Facebook is still undoubtedly the most popular social platform in terms of active users (2 billion monthly active users at last count), thereby making it the number one choice for marketers. Facebook also offers an extensive range of advertising formats, objectives and targeting options. Consequently, there is a significant place for paid social content on Facebook as it is ideal for brand awareness campaigns and reaching large scale audience demographics of varying degrees of detail.   

But, the reality is that we very much live within a “pay to play” environment within the social media realm, and combined with the ever-advancing algorithms, organic reach is gradually diminishing. 

As a result, many brands are becoming complacent and relying solely on their monetary investment to surpass the benchmarks they've set. In a highly competitive and cluttered social environment, awareness can certainly be achieved but valuable engagements and interactions on branded content are diminishing in the sponsored space.

Thus, despite organic content decreasing in popularity and social pull, it’s crucial to highlight that it should not be overlooked and moreover, should be considered as a necessary precursor to social success. The reason for this being that attention on social is a reward, not a right. We know that brands can buy impressions and eyeballs for their content. But conspicuous and creative advertising should be of relevance to the target audience, resonate with users, and most importantly, offer a unique value exchange for audience attention. Content that ticks these boxes will generate organic engagement and gather organic reach on its own merit (an accomplishment to be proud of in 2017).

Therefore, the key lesson to take away is that paid social content will continue to grow and advance, however organic should be looked at as a measure of success in relation to engagement. As an agency who prides itself on conspicuous creativity, our focus should continue to be placed on creating content which is entertaining, interesting, useful, and above all else, thumb-stopping.