Social media engagement: Paid vs. Organic Traffic

7 min readDec 22, 2023


image source; Unsplash

Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate and connect with others. It has become an integral part of our daily lives, providing us with a platform to share our thoughts, experiences, and opinions. However, the rise of social media has also brought about significant changes in the nature of our conversations, particularly in the organic realm. In this article, we will explore the impact of social media on organic conversations, examining both the positive and negative aspects of this phenomenon.

Social Engagement

Social media engagement refers to the various interactions and responses that occur with your content on social media platforms. This can include likes, comments, shares, retweets, followers, click-throughs, and mentions. In essence, it measures the level of audience participation and interaction with the content you share.

The significance of social media engagement lies in its ability to gauge the effectiveness of your content in capturing and maintaining audience attention. High engagement rates indicate that your content resonates with your audience, fostering a positive relationship with both your followers and the social media algorithms. Platforms like TikTok, for example, reward high engagement by increasing the visibility of your content to a broader audience.

On the other hand, low engagement suggests that your content may not be connecting with your audience, and adjustments to your strategy may be necessary. Well, in all honesty, social media engagement can be influenced by various factors like the content shared, the subject matter and the timing, and there is no harm in shaking things up and giving your strategy a fresh spin! If you notice your content isn’t sparking the engagement tyou hoped for, it’s not the end of the world. Get creative, try new approaches, and who knows, one day you might just stumble upon that content piece that clicks with your audience. It’s all part of the ride of social media!

The Evolution of social media

According to Merriam-Webster, social media is described as “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos).”

The journey of social media spans from being a direct means of electronic information exchange to a virtual meeting place, then transforming into a retail platform, and finally emerging as an important marketing tool in the 21st century.

While the roots of digital communication trace back to the telegraph in 1844, the modern era of social media is often attributed to the 1969 creation of the ARPANET, a digital network by the U.S. Department of Defense. The launch of the NSFNET in 1987 paved the way for the internet we know today, and by 1997, the first true social media platform emerged.

The ’80s and ’90s witnessed the introduction of online communication services like CompuServe, America Online, and Prodigy, laying the groundwork for early social media networks. Platforms like Six Degrees (1997) and Friendster (2001) marked the initial forays into social networking. Blogs gained traction with LiveJournal’s launch in 1999 and Blogger’s acquisition by Google in 2003.

LinkedIn, established in 2002, catered to career professionals, growing to over 675 million users by 2020. Myspace, initially successful, was overtaken by Facebook in 2008, and Google+ met its end in 2018 after a data breach.

Today, the social media space has over 4.62 billion users worldwide. The transition from desktop to mobile, enhanced by smartphones and high-speed internet, reshaped user experiences. Social media became a mobile phenomenon, with apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok thriving in the mobile environment.

Businesses capitalized on this shift by offering simpler ways for customers to interact and purchase goods. Social media’s initial purpose was to connect users digitally, but the advent of smartphones transformed it into a mobile-centric experience. Technological advancements, especially in-camera capabilities, shifted the focus to video and images, with Instagram becoming a visual haven.

As social media companies amassed millions of users, they gained access to invaluable user data. Advertising on platforms like Facebook and Twitter began as early as 2006, and other platforms followed suit. Brands also recognized the potential of cultivating an organic social media presence, leveraging informative or entertaining content to grow audiences without direct payment.

The Importance of Social Media Engagement

Social media engagement is a mutual exchange, much like any relationship. It involves your followers interacting with your content, and in turn, you engaging with them. While responding to every comment may not always be feasible, making the effort to engage with your audience builds trust and loyalty. If time constraints are an issue, hiring a team to manage interactions can be a worthwhile investment.

Building connections extends beyond individual interactions to engaging with brands that align with your values and ideas. This collaboration can lead to mutual benefits.

The bedrock of social media engagement is quality content. Your content should be more than just information; it should be valuable, relevant, and engaging for your audience. Providing solutions, entertainment, or education adds significant value. Analyze which types of content resonate the most with your audience and focus your efforts there — whether it’s articles on LinkedIn or posts on Facebook.

Additionally, humor can be a powerful tool to enhance engagement, especially on platforms like Twitter. Integrating humor into your content can make your brand more relatable and increase audience interaction.

In a professional context, social media is not just a platform for personal expression; it’s an important component of your content marketing strategy. It allows you to showcase your expertise, connect with your audience, and establish a credible online presence. By consistently delivering quality content and actively engaging with your audience, you not only enhance your brand’s visibility but also cultivate a community that trusts and values your contributions.

Integrating Organic and Paid Traffic

Maintaining a presence on organic social media doesn’t come with a direct price tag — it’s technically free to post on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. The associated costs arise from the efforts invested in engaging with the community and creating content. This might involve dedicated team members, outsourcing to freelancers or agencies, or integrating tasks into employees’ daily routines. Organic social media doesn’t demand an immediate financial commitment, making it an attractive option, especially for businesses on a tight budget.

Deciding between organic and paid social media isn’t a straightforward choice, as each has its merits based on various business needs and situations. For small businesses concentrating on organic social media — crafting thoughtful content, refining social profiles, and actively engaging with customers — can be a strategic move. Conversely, businesses with ample marketing budgets and a pressing need for customer acquisition might prioritize paid social media efforts.

An ideal strategy often involves a blend of both methods. Paid social media can rapidly boost brand awareness and draw in an audience, while well-crafted organic content and an active presence can capture and retain interest. The approach is about using paid efforts to attract attention and then employing organic strategies to nurture and convert.

Paid social media comes with a financial investment, and its success hinges on planning and execution. Constant experimentation and setbacks in paid social media can result in wasted resources, particularly for small businesses lacking the expertise for coordination. The competitive nature of social media marketing can lead to high pay-per-click rates and a need for high-quality, attention-grabbing content.

Not every promotional post requires a financial boost. Firstly allocate a budget for ads only when they align with your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and contribute to achieving your business objectives. Ads may not always be the best solution on social media. Additionally never underestimate the impact of a well-crafted organic post that resonates with audiences and sparks organic conversation

For example, when revealing something new — be it a partnership, a strategic shift, or an updated version of your flagship product — your existing followers should be the first to know. A creatively designed, original organic campaign possesses the innate ability to generate its own buzz. Craft a compelling post, pin it to your profile, or feature it in your Stories highlights, especially for significant news.

Take, for instance, Netflix’s unveiling of the highly anticipated Princess Switch 3 through an organic post on Instagram. This increased the potential of strategic organic content in garnering attention and engagement.

Always remember it is not a competition and the key to a successful social media strategy lies in striking a balance between both approaches. By using the unique strengths of organic and paid methods, businesses can create a well-rounded and impactful social media strategy that effectively engages and retains their audience.

Final thoughts

To navigate the impact of social media on organic conversations, it is crucial to strike a balance between paid and organic efforts. Both approaches have their merits and should be used strategically to reach and maintain relationships with your target audience. By leveraging the strengths of each type of social media marketing strategy, you can provide an engaging brand experience that fosters loyalty and drives positive outcomes.

In conclusion, social media has transformed the way we engage in organic conversations. While it offers numerous benefits, it also presents challenges that must be addressed. By understanding the importance of social media engagement, integrating organic and paid efforts, and recognizing the potential drawbacks, brands can navigate the social media landscape effectively. It is essential to prioritize authentic interactions, build relationships, and use social media as a tool for positive change.




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