So how can you start using more organic social media content to balance out your paid efforts?

First, it’s important to be crystal clear on the differences between paid and organic social media content and what they both bring to the table.

Paid Social Content

What is Paid Social?

Paid social is exactly what it sounds like– advertising.  More specifically, paid social is the content on social media that you pay for in exchange for a guaranteed audience (either new or existing). Paid social can include sponsored/boosted posts, pay-per-click ads, targeted in-feed campaigns, and influencer-generated content.

Why Paid Social Works:

1. Provides your NGO with guaranteed reach

Paid social is an almost foolproof way to gain exposure to a specific audience. Social media platforms have become sophisticated enough to accurately target audiences based on age, hobbies, location, and even occupation. This type of smart targeting ensures that paid social is highly focused on your intended market, leading to more traffic, engagement,  and ultimately increased donations.

2. Increases campaign stability

Paid social analytics are much more detailed than organic and can provide invaluable information on your NGO’s campaign performance. When you have a clear understanding of what’s working and who is responding to your content, you can adjust and create even stronger campaigns each time.

3. Reaches your audience directly

In some cases, nonprofits must deliver their appeals swiftly and directly. In times of crisis, for example, there isn’t always time to allow social media algorithms to do their work and communicate to the right audience. Paid social gives you priority access to a targeted audience who may not see your message in time otherwise.

As you can see, the benefits of paid social media cannot be argued with. However, nonprofits are often looking for ways to make their budget stretch, and this is where a solid organic social media strategy can make all the difference.

Rectangle 8

Organic Social Content

What is Organic Social?

Organic social media refers to content published on various platforms without any payment. This is the type of content most users are posting to social media and how many businesses start out.

Why Organic Social Works:

1. Organic Social Increases Brand Validity

Posting high-quality organic content gradually develops trust with your audience in a way that advertising alone cannot. Most people are now aware of when they are being “sold” to, and if this is all they associate with your brand, it could potentially harm your credibility. Potential supporters of your cause want to see authentic engagement and feel like they are interacting with real people and personalities behind each post.

2. Organic Social Builds Community

Building a genuine relationship and connection with your followers is essential for creating a strong community. NGO’s can nurture these relationships through authentic interactions like messages, comments, questions, and seeking feedback. These interactions require a real-time investment that can’t be replaced by an ad or artificial intelligence. Social media marketing has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than paid marketing so this relationship must be nurtured and supported through your organic social strategies.

3. Organic Social is Cost-Effective

While organic social media does require time and energy, your NGO doesn’t need a large budget to execute a successful organic strategy. The key is to create innovative, clear, and attention-grabbing content that your followers enjoy and want to engage with and adjust as necessary to meet the needs of your audience. Since organic social media is free, it may be easier to try new things you wouldn’t otherwise risk.

Why Organic and Paid Social are Great Together (+ BONUS Success Story!)

Paid social may seem like a shortcut to more engagement and revenue, but by combining it with quality organic content, you can increase your NGO’s chances of success online.

This proved to be true during a recent campaign we led with International Justice Mission (IJM). Throughout the paid campaign, we made the decision to post quick, informative, and commanding organic reels to IJM's Instagram account to complement their more direct awareness and paid appeals and maximize their cost efficiency. One reel, in particular, outperformed all other campaign posts and saw a 450% increase in profile views. This exposure gave Instagram's algorithm a much wider audience to target, and by doing so, cut the cost per click on their current ad campaign in HALF.

The Verdict

There are thousands of brands and businesses competing for attention on social media, and it may be tempting to think that “paying to play” through advertising is the only way to stay relevant and effective. But the reality is even the biggest ad budget can’t replace great content, and great content is ultimately the secret to social media success. To build an effective social strategy, your NGO should be focusing its efforts on creating strong organic content and then supplementing it with a well-thought-out paid strategy.

Focus on getting in front of your ideal audience and building a great relationship with them. When they’re ready to donate, you’ll be at the top of the list.