Welcome to the Marketing in the Wild podcast. I’m Julia from Stratos Creative Marketing, where we are obsessed with finding real-life examples of the good, the bad, and sometimes wild, in marketing.

When it comes to social media, there are two parts at play. We have the organic part, and we have the paid part. They can work together simultaneously, they can work separately, but one of the questions I’m often asked is, how do I know when to use one or the other, and what are the differences? That’s what we’re gonna tackle today. 

First off, organic social media. This is just a regular post. It could be a video post, it could be a photo post, on Twitter, it might just be text. Whatever it is, if you’re posting something, unless you’re entering a credit card when you’re posting it, that is an organic post. We refer to it as organic because we’re waiting to see the organic actions that people take with it. We’re not paying to put it in front of more people, it is just their living, and we’re waiting to see what happens. Paid, on the other hand, is anything from boosted posts, and I’ll explain those, or Ads manager, at least in Meta; the Facebook and Instagram world, we have an ads manager. Those are paid, so anytime you are putting your credit card in their system asking them to find new people. 

So when would we use one or the other? And then, when are we gonna use both of them in tandem? Organic should always be happening. One of my rules is that none of our clients are allowed to pay for ads unless they’re posting organically. Why? Because one, if somebody sees an ad and they go to your feed, they’ll be like, “What the heck? Is this company real? Is it a scam?” And we don’t wanna be like that. But the other reason that I love using organic is because it’s gonna serve that current audience and create community. So who’s gonna see your organic content? It is gonna be your community, your audience, the people who are following you. Should you share that content, or should they share that content, then the people who follow them will also see it. So it’s limited to these circles of who knows who. Your post probably won’t come up on some random person’s feed, it’s going to either be your friends or friends of friends who see it. It’s a great way to create community, it’s a great way to foster engagement, it’s a great way to serve that audience with education, entertainment, whatever you wanna do. So basically, it’s this idea of you use organic to serve the people who are already connected to you.

Paid, on the other hand, is a way to find new people. And so, we have two parts of paid; we have boosted posts or Ads Manager. And that’s how I’m separating them. Boosted, if you are posting on a Facebook page, for example, there’s usually a little blue button on your organic post that you can boost the post. What this means is you’re actually putting a little bit of money out there to a post that you’ve already made organic. So this is where the two worlds collide. You’ve made an organic post, and you want more people to see it beyond your followers. And so, you might boost that post, it’s a post that’s already created, and it could lead to more followers, it could also improve engagement, so getting more people to comment on it. Basically, when it comes to the algorithm – the algorithm is the mechanism by which Meta, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, it’s the code behind their programs that dictates who sees what. The algorithm actually doesn’t let our people see everything. So we don’t see everything that we post all the time. Boosting a post helps more people see it. So you can boost it to the people who already follow you, so your community that is already made, people who follow you plus their friends, or you can select a new audience. You get more eyes. 

Here’s the thing though, when comparing boosted posts to ads, you get less customization, you also have less options for audiences, you have to use a post that you already have made. It could lead to more followers, but really, the primary focus of boosting posts is brand awareness; getting more people’s eyes on it, getting people to see your education, entertainment, whatever it might be. In other words, just serving more people. It is a great tool, but we actually tell people to not use it. Why? Because in the end, you’re really just getting more eyes on that post, which could be helpful depending on your brand. But the reason that we love using ads is because you can pick different objectives. So we usually tell people, if you’re gonna spend money on paid social media, spend it in the Ads Manager, not on boosting posts. 

Your Ads Manager, that’s a whole different portal within your social media platform. They’re integrating it into the business manager, it’s a little bit confusing right now. And so usually, I go to the Ads Manager link. And if you need that, we can get that to you. But anyway, that’s besides the point. Ads Manager, you set up an actual ads account, you have your credit card in it, and then you can set up campaigns. Each of these campaigns can have different objectives. Some of the objectives that you might choose are views, getting more people to see. Can you guys see a trend? Boosting does that too, but when you do it in the Ads Manager, you get wider audiences and more customization. Clicks, wanting people to click a link. We have a client who has a free workout pass. So we send people to that link so that they can register for that. Sales, e-commerce ads, get people to buy your things. Leads, these are our favorite kinds of ads. How can we get more emails into your system so that you can nurture them longer? One more thing, you could also do a Likes Campaign. If what you’re wanting is more likes, more followers, you can do that in the Ads Manager too. 

Here’s the thing, when I think about organic and paid, specifically Ads Manager, I think Ads Manager is your money maker. Your organic is your way to serve people, nurture them, and then you serve the ad, you show them the ad to make that sale or get them to take an action. The ad is that call to action, whether it’s an email, getting their email for leads, or whether it’s getting them to click, or whether it’s actually getting them to buy, ads are the money maker. And this is the thing, you might have a small following, but you can actually reach millions of people through ads, and then get them to be engaged with your product. Or you might have them just skip over the social media altogether and get them into your email list, which you know we love. 

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That’s a little bit of the nuance between organic and paid. Obviously, we have our favorite. We love Ads Manager more than we love boosting posts. We see better results, we want to reach new audiences rather than our current audiences, and we also want a greater degree of customization. However, boosting does have its place, or also wouldn’t exist. But then the second favorite is organic. Actually, I take that back! That’s not our second favorite. Organic and paid are tied for me because my favorite, favorite thing is to use them in tandem. So just like we’ve talked already, organic is a way to nurture, ads are a way to give people a call to action, whether it’s to get on your email list, to go to your website, to buy something, whatever it might be, when you can work them together, that is where the magic happens, in my opinion. The last estimate I read is that the algorithm only shows your organic post to 5% of your audience. So that’s not really a whole lot of people, but if you get ads, then you can make sure that you get in front of those people too. That is how I like to do social media. 

The next question that you might be thinking is, “Oh, this is great. I’m glad I understand this. Where do I start?” That is a great question. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t have a great answer for you, and that’s because organic, that’s easy to start on your own. You can go back to some of our podcast episodes, go to our blog, come to one of our workshops, and start learning about creating content pillars, how to repurpose content. That, you can do. Ads Manager is a little bit trickier. And so, all I want you to remember is if you can take away and you wanna try to DIY your ads, make sure that you remember the differences between boosting posts and Ads Manager. Boosting posts is probably a little bit easier and more accessible if you don’t have a ton of experience in Ads Manager. So that might be a good place to start. But I say that with a giant, giant caveat; don’t waste your money! Make sure the posts that you’re boosting are really good, make sure you figure out your audience, things like that. If you wanna tackle Ads Manager, that’s a little bit harder because of the whole setup thing, there’s a ton of options. I don’t even understand all of the options because they change them all the time.

But that’s where I would start small. Start figuring out, okay, what campaign objective do I want? Do I want views, clicks, sales, leads? Do my graphics and captions match that call to action? And then, how much do I wanna start per day? I would encourage you to start small. We usually start at $5 a day. That helps you start seeing, okay, am I getting the results that I want? But here’s the thing, you guys, there are experts out there who do this day in and day out. And so, just keep in mind that if you really, really want to hone in and figure out your audience and get good results, it might be worth talking to an expert. Not necessarily us. We don’t do e-commerce, we do lead gen ads, we do some of the ones that have more longevity than getting emails and stuff. But make sure you talk to somebody because it might actually be worth your money and your time to invest in an actual expert to do the ads for you. 

So now that we’ve talked through organic, we’ve talked about paid, the next question is, how do I know when I’m ready? You can be ready anytime. But remember, my rule of thumb is to always make sure you’re doing organic content. So if you’re not already posting consistently or scheduling things out, focus on that first, and then think about, what do you want? Do you wanna get new eyes? Do you want sales? Do you want emails? Because if you just want more people to see your posts, then boosting might work for you. But if you wanna get in front of new audiences that are gonna love your service or product, then ads might be the option for you. If you’re content just serving the audience that you have, then don’t do ads right now. That’s also a perfectly acceptable option. And actually, it might even be better because there might be ways that you should be spending your marketing dollars. 

Guys, this is a really high level overview of ads, so forgive me if I didn’t answer your particular question. If you do have a question that you’re wondering about in particular, make sure you come over to either our social media, Marketing in the Wild podcast, or drop us an email. My personal email is julia@stratoscreativemarketing.com. Shoot me an email if you have some questions about ads or social media. If I don’t know the answer, I will find somebody who does. Anyway, we’ll be back next week with some new content, and so I hope that you’ll be back too. 

Friends, thanks for tuning into this week’s podcast episode. I am so glad that you have. If you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have, I just ask you to subscribe so you know each time we have a new episode coming out. If you’ve loved our podcast and wanna give us a rating or a review, I promise, we will read each and every one of them. A special shout out to our friend, Carson Childers, who is producing our podcast. We really appreciate him and all the hard work that he’s done for us.

Also, thanks to the Stratos team. They have been behind the scenes doing all of the graphic design, brainstorming, et cetera, et cetera. Really, this wouldn’t be possible without them. I’m thankful for each and every one of you guys. 

Lastly, listener, we’ll be back next week, and I hope you will be too.