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Is Paid Social Content the Downfall of Brands?


A Fortune 500 social media director and I were chatting last week and she said something quite profound. We were talking about her brand’s approach to organic vs. paid social content when she nonchalantly had a mic-drop moment. She said:

“We’ve stopped doing organic posts. Everything now is paid.”

To the social media purist, a kitten died. Brands who once followed the “join the conversation” mantra are now just “buying ads on Facebook.” Doc Searls would roll over in his grave. If he were dead. (Hi Doc! I hope you live to be 150.)

The Relevancy Bullseye - Paid Social Content Nails ItBut to the digital strategist who understands that merely joining the conversation alone won’t cut it, this is an interesting next step in social marketing. You see, just because a brand decides to do away with the organic effort and simply put spend behind social content doesn’t mean they’re eschewing social media or the precious “conversation” at all. Here’s why:

  • The paid social content is still the same type of content they posted organically. They’re merely ensuring more people see it.
  • Comments, likes and shares not only still happen on paid social content, but happen with much more volume because more people are seeing it.
  • Community managers can (and do) still engage with those responding and talking about the content.
  • The messages can be made much more efficient at reaching the audience the content is ultimately relevant for, and not limited to a small percentage of the brand’s fans that might see it.
  • In fact, paid social content can be targeted to reach the exact set of prospective customers who are not your brand’s fans and wouldn’t see an organic post at all, meaning  you have a much better chance of acquiring customers, converting prospects, etc., through social.

It’s easy for a purist to jump on this shift and say, “This means brands are going back to barking messages at unwilling audiences and doing away with all the good that social media brought to consumers.” Go ahead, take the lazy way out of thinking this through if you like. The thoughtful people see a whole world of good here.

Because now, more than ever, the right messages can reach the right people at the right time and in the right location. And that’s the relevancy bullseye which makes your marketing optimal for you and your audience.

Note: The Relevancy Bullseye was a concept Jason Falls created and asked Mark Smiciklas to visualize for SocialMediaExplorer.com, his former agency and blog. It is still quite relevant.

Additional Note: This post originally appeared on Jason’s personal blog.

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