If you are an active reader of my blog, you know how I feel about paid marketing. The majority of my posts discuss the importance of paid advertising and ways to improve your paid marketing efforts to scale your business. Without paid marketing, businesses won’t be able to survive the next decade and long gone are the days where businesses could rely solely on organic reach to sustain and grow their revenue.
Although I believe paid advertising should be the core of your marketing efforts, the blend of organic reach strategies is what sets successful advertisers apart. If you are not yet familiar with the term, “Social Media Organic Reach” is a term used to describe how many users your posts or business reached for free. Essentially, it’s how many users you reached without having to pay for post sponsoring.
Organic reach can come from those posts of yours that reach, not only your current audience, but those people outside of your followers or other users who tag your business in their posts and, as a result, you get traffic back to your business. Some advertisers consider influencer marketing as organic reach as although it is usually a paid service (a payment or gifted item to the influencer) because your post remains on the influencer’s profile and continues to generate reach and traffic to your business.
Yes! You might be confused, in some of my previous articles I declared the slow death of organic reach on platforms like Facebook or Instagram, but hear me out for a second. Although something is dying it doesn’t mean it’s dead yet. There are still opportunities to leverage organic reach that can make a big difference to your business.
The main problem with paid marketing is that it’s paid. You can advertise for years and spend millions, but the second your ads are stopped, your posts disappear. It’s kind of like the difference between being a landlord and a renter. You can rent the house but you will never own it. On the other hand, when you own the house, you get to keep it. If that’s the case, then organic reach sounds like a better investment as you own the property. The main problem is when Facebook and Google are the property owners, they can evict you anytime they want to or they increase your mortgage payment rates which might make it a better choice to rent again.
Identifying the current market opportunities
If your business has been online for the past 10 years, you probably noticed the shift in organic reach on Facebook. If you were advertising in the early years of this decade, you might be able to recall how easy it was to get new followers and gain massive reach for everything that you posted online. As a result of these massive organic opportunities, new industries emerged that were feeding off the free organic traffic and established their business model around it to a point of them becoming very profitable.
Then, Facebook introduced the Pay To Play Model which means that if you want to reach your followers and audience, you now need to pay. Facebook created a mechanism that can differentiate “valuable content” as organic worthy or as business-related posts. They limited organic reach for businesses to the point where, previously, they were reaching 20-30% of their followers on every post, now they are reaching 1-2%.
It’s not because Facebook wants to be evil, it’s a simple reality that they have a limited amount of ad inventory on their platform and, to expand it, they need to take more ad space from the organic space they previously offered. The main issue here is that industries that were built based on the organic reach they got on Facebook, now have to pay as a result and are battling to find a way to become profitable. It’s not easy to make such a radical change where you now have to pay for something that you used to get for free.
What I discussed up to this point is not meant to talk about what happened in the past, but to open up and highlight the importance of timing on organic reach. Just like Facebook did, Instagram also has been declining the organic reach for businesses. Businesses who have done exceptionally well organically on Instagram are seeing lower numbers than ever and it feels like Instagram is following Facebook’s footsteps.
Every time that a new feature is added to one of these platforms, they allocate generous amounts of organic reach to users to push the popularity of the new feature. If you are using Instagram stories, you will notice the vast difference in reach over Instagram posts. Being able to identify organic trends will allow you to better allocate your resources.
The good news is that you don’t need any fancy third party tools to understand where you are getting more reach and which type of your content performs best. Instagram Insights provides you with all the data and info you need, and it’s available for free in your Instagram account. Understanding what type of posts perform best will allow you to optimize your content towards the type that is likely to perform best organically.
How organic reach can help you balance your paid advertising costs down.
It’s a very simple calculation. If you are generating 90% of your traffic from paid marketing campaigns and 10% of your traffic is coming from organic sources, organic traffic will help you lower the average cost per new visitor. If paid traffic generates 90 visitors per day for 10 cents per visitor at a total cost of $9 per day and organic reach generates an extra 10 visitors for free, that will bring your total amount of visitors per day to 100 at a cost of 9 cents per visitor. The more traffic you can bring organically, the more cost-effective your paid marketing campaigns can be. Also, the higher the ratio of organic vs paid traffic, the more you can re-invest in paid marketing and scale.
Using paid ads to accelerate your organic reach and growth
Thousands of websites offer the best ways to conventionally grow your reach organically by using worn-out methods like posting on specific times of the day, using specific hashtags, using user content posts, engaging with your audience, posting regularly, etc… the usual stuff. The problem with these common strategies is that when everyone uses them, how can you expect them to make a difference? If everyone is reading the same blogs and using the same strategies, how will they differentiate themselves from others? Using paid ads to accelerate your organic reach can help in the following ways:
Using competitions as a method to elevate engagement is a traditional method used by a majority of businesses. But what happens when the engagement level is so low that it keeps you from achieving the initial goal of reaching more people organically?
One way that can boost your competition posts is to amplify your reach. Instead of just clicking on the default boost option, Facebook Ads lets you boost your posts using your custom audiences so you can reach people who already interacted with your page or profile. By targeting your existing audience, you are likely to get a much more effective response that can dramatically boost your engagement.
This will cause a domino effect where paid reach will contribute to organic reach as each user that is engaged through paid ads is likely to tag and share the post with other users. As a result, paid ads will ignite extended reach and will bring organic reach to an audience that would have never engaged before if you would have relied exclusively on organic reach.
This can be done through the following Facebook Ads objectives.
- Conversion objective.
- Video views
Yes, you need to pay to reach more people. But promoting posts can lead to increased organic growth. If you spend $100 on ads and it generates 1000 likes, 50 comments, and 50 shares, those comments can include tags to other users and those shares will be shown on the users’ profiles. That can lead to more organic reach that could later turn into more traffic and even sales.
Also, Facebook rewards highly relevant ads with some bonus organic traffic. You will notice that each page has an insight section that shows organic reach vs paid reach and you will usually find a correlation between the two.
Note that I don’t recommend boosting posts for the sake of engagement only, as you can’t cash out likes or comments. I recommend integrating these posts into a performance-driven campaign that will aim to generate conversions and along the way will collect engagement that will help organic reach and social proof.
As you can see here, in a regular conversion objective campaign that aims to focus on generating sales, notice the massive engagement levels that come as a bonus:
Extra boost for your best performing posts
It’s a good idea to include most of your posts in your campaigns. It’s an even better idea to massively push the best performing posts. The first reason is that you know that they have active engagement since they stood out from all your other posts. Second, they probably didn’t look like ads and those are the best types of ads.
If your post had some viral elements, it means that it drew special attention from users. If you can integrate those posts in your ad strategy, these posts are likely to be as good, or even better, than your current ads and you will push the organic reach of the post even further. In many cases, the most engaging posts on Instagram and Facebook turn out to be the best ads.
You use a post that’s already loaded with social proof and you amplify reach with paid ads that in return generates more organic reach.
Campaign followers on Instagram
Advertisers rarely use the page like objective on Facebook since, aside from helping a bit in social proof by showing that the page has a lot of active followers, it’s like burning money, because to reach your followers you will have to pay to boost your posts to reach them again.
On Instagram, it’s a little different. Reach on Instagram is a little better, so you can expect around 3-5% of your followers to engage and see your future posts. If you create a product-focused campaign that encourages relevant audiences to follow you on Instagram, it can pay off.
If a single follower costs you, on average, 20 cents and ends up seeing 5-10 posts in the future and one out of every 100 of these followers might purchase a product from you, I think that’s not a bad deal. Instagram doesn’t currently offer the option to run campaigns for followers, so it will have to be done under a different objective.
I recommend only incorporating it under the conversion objective. By using a conversion objective with a follower friendly creative, you will bring followers who are likely to fall within your targeted audience and they might become a customer as well one day.
Also, if you plan on doing influencer marketing in the future, you know how much the number of followers matters in the ability to collaborate with top influencers. Influencers with a lot of followers usually tend to work with brands with a lot of followers as well to maintain their status as top influencers. The more followers your Instagram account has, the easier influencer marketing will become.
Boosting Instagram stories
This is one of the best-kept secrets in 2020 and surprisingly unknown to many advertisers.
Boosting Instagram stories can help you extend your reach to not only your existing followers but to new users as well. Also, since Instagram stories are the new King of organic reach, boosting your stories can not only get you an insane level of exposure but it can also help by extending your reach because stories are ranked and rewarded based on their engagement levels. This can be especially rewarding if you are boosting your top-performing stories.
Note that this can currently be done using the Instagram app only and not through ads manager. You can promote your post through Instagram stories. Then, once it appears in Ads Manager, duplicate it into a conversion campaign.
Though paid advertising has become the better way to advertise, there is still a place for organic reach, though it’s getting harder. By thinking smarter about how you use paid advertising, you will find that your ads also have a small but effective organic reach which can help keep your advertising costs down. Running competitions, promoting your best performing posts, and boosting your Instagram stories are several ways to engage current and prospective audiences that may share and tag your posts…that’s organic growth in action.