Is Paid Social Media Worth The Investment?

Is paid social media worth the investment? Social media marketing has evolved over the years. It used to be more about engagement and shares, whereas now, it’s more about the entire journey – from that initial ‘like’, right the way through to final purchase and beyond. There’s no real formula to getting it right, but there are things you can do to get the most out of it for the time you put in.

Is paid social media worth the investment? Social media marketing has evolved over the years. It used to be more about engagement and shares, whereas now, it’s more about the entire journey – from that initial ‘like’, right the way through to final purchase and beyond. There’s no real formula to getting it right, but there are things you can do to get the most out of it for the time you put in.

Is paid social media worth the investment? Social media marketing has evolved over the years. It used to be more about engagement and shares, whereas now, it’s more about the entire journey – from that initial ‘like’, right the way through to final purchase and beyond. There’s no real formula to getting it right, but there are things you can do to get the most out of it for the time you put in.

Paid and social posts are different approaches towards the same result: a wider reach and more conversions. But what do each of these terms mean? And if organic posting is good, then why bother including paid in your marketing strategy? Well, it all depends on your goals.

In this article, we’re going to explain the pros and cons of each, then help you weigh up the options. Read on to find out more.

What is organic social media?

Organic social media is all the stuff people/brands/organisations share on their feeds holistically. When you post organically to your account, the people who will see it include –

  • Some of your followers
  • Some of your followers’ followers (if your followers share or interact with your post)
  • People who are following the topics or hashtags you’ve used

What are the benefits of organic social media marketing?

This forms the bread and butter of many marketing teams’ strategy. It’s a great (and free) way to nurture engagement, develop your brand’s voice, and share important news and updates.

Here are some examples

Paid social media organic example

An organic Instagram post from The London Review of Books

Paid social media organic example on twitter

An example of an organic Twitter post from Marvel Entertainment.

Organic social media: the downsides

Organic social media is great for sharing news and building a community, but there are limitations. Even if you do your research and post at the best times for engagement, the fact is, only a small number of your followers will see your post.

This is part planning, part chance, and part due to the fact that algorithms rank your content and organic reach has been taking a nosedive for years. This is where paid social media comes in useful.

What is paid social media?

Paid social media is essentially advertising. Brands pay platforms like Facebook and Instagram a fee to have their posts featured prominently on the feeds of new audiences (I.e. not existing followers, or followers of followers). These audiences are chosen based on who is likely to be interested in the content.

For example, if Facebook knows someone really loved the latest Avengers movie, it might choose that person as probably receptive to ads for a new Marvel film and other superhero movies.

Paid social media covers the following types of ad:

  • Pay-per-click
  • Branded content
  • Influencer content
  • Display ads

What does paid social media look like?

Every channel is a little different. Facebook has a marketplace, as well as visual content which appears on people’s feeds. Twitter offers short-form content with an image, and Instagram is purely visual (with a short caption underneath). TikTok is all about bite-sized video clips, whereas LinkedIn is written content and for marketing professionals.

Paid social media example of a sponsored post

The word ‘sponsored’ under the brand name tells you it’s a sponsored post.

What are the benefits of paid social media?

Paid social media means your content – whether that’s a specially-designed ad or a boosted post – gets in front of more eyes. Here are 7 reasons to include paid social media in your marketing mix:

1.   Raise awareness of your brand or product

It takes a lot of work to raise awareness through organic posts. Using paid social media is a short-cut to raising your brand’s profile. You might not reach people who are in the market for your services at that time to the same extent that you would with, say, organic social posts and PPC advertising – but you will reach your target audience. And while that could result in short-term wins, it’s more about engagement, subscribes, and long-term customers.

2.   Reach an engaged audience

Your ads will be targeted at people who are already likely to show an interest in your service. And most sponsored ads are nearly indistinguishable from normal posts – making them an unobtrusive format. If it’s done well, your post will fit seamlessly in with a user’s existing feed, which means they’ll be more likely to like and share because it already looks like the things they like and share.

3.   Get insights

The more you know about your audience, the better you can tailor your posts to match. Paid ads provide you with lots of information you’d not be able to access otherwise – such as reach and in-depth demographics. These valuable stats can then be used to refine both your paid and your organic social marketing.

Detailed post stats can be especially useful when it comes to A/B testing, which lets you try out your messages on different audiences. If one group responds better than the other, you can refine your messaging and focus your efforts on the group that responds best.

4.   Drive conversions and get speedy results

Paid is much faster than organic when it comes to seeing results. This is because your post is suddenly exposed to a brand new audience and featured prominently on their timelines. Depending on your budget, this audience may be far bigger than the one you already have.

5.   Develop brand voice and personality

Because you have a bigger reach, you have more engagement – and more opportunity to interact and show off your brand’s personality. When it comes to building trust, having a cohesive and likeable brand voice is hugely important, and paid social gives you a bigger opportunity to show it off.

6.   Target users by location

Location targeting can be a really effective way to focus your efforts and budget. On Facebook, you can make your marketing local and target cities and towns. This is great if you run, say, a plumbing business and want to let everyone in your area know about your services. On LinkedIn, you can choose to target a selection of large cities. This can be especially potent if you run your paid posts during an event or conference, when the city will have a high concentration of a certain type of professional.

7.   Make use of retargeting ads

Retargeting is a great way to re-engage existing customers/visitors. Simply add a tracking pixel to your website via Google Tag Manager. This allows you to then create a list of, say, people who visited your site and didn’t complete checkout – and then target them with ads with a message enticing them back.

Organic social media Vs Paid social media: which is best?

Organic social media is great for audience-building. It’s a non-intrusive way to promote your brand among those who are already interested, a great tool for nurturing relationships between existing customers, and brilliant for converting interested leads into customers or followers simply through you showing them what you do.

The downsides are, reach is low – and getting lower. And it can take a lot of time to get right: the odds of you going viral are slim, which means it’ll take a lot of regular, pitch-perfect posts to get any sort of conversation going.

For those who want to speed things up, there’s paid social media – which helps you reach a big audience, target the right kinds of customer, and supercharge engagement. But it’s not like waving a magic wand: paid social media requires a budget and someone to monitor the ads.

The bottom line: Organic builds engagement among an existing audience. Paid attracts new customers. They’re not really comparable because they do different things. Your best bet? Combining the two.

How to integrate organic and paid social media

Most social media strategies combine a mixture of paid and organic posts. Let’s take a closer look at how to use both as part of your marketing strategy.

1.   Only choose paid ads when you need a boost

Every business has targets, and if you’re hitting yours with organic posts, then do you really need paid posts? Probably not. If, however, you have business goals and you’re way off, paid ads could be the supercharge you need to race ahead.

There are other instances where an organic post is the better option. For example, if you’re launching something new, organic will probably be all you need because a) new followers won’t care that something’s new if they’ve never heard of your brand in the first place, and b) new things tend to generate a bit of a buzz anyway, so your existing followers will probably do plenty of sharing and commenting as it is. Simply craft a compelling post and make a big deal about it by sharing on every timeline and in your stories.

2.   Use paid posts to boost successful content

Did a post land well? Paying to promote your winning-formula post is a way to get more mileage out of it. After all, if it went down well with your existing followers, chances are it’ll work with new audiences.

The great thing about this option is that it’s low-risk: you have your ad already made and you know it’s good – so paying to promote it is (pretty much) a matter of opening your wallet.

You can do this on an ad-hoc basis, but as with all things advertising, doing it regularly and with consideration will mean better results. Start by putting aside some budget to promote your top-performing posts each month. And when we say ‘top performing’, we mean the ones with the highest click-throughs and conversions – not just likes and shares.

3.   Find your ‘lookalike’ audiences

Most social media platforms let you create something called a ‘lookalike audience’, which is based on the information you provide about your existing best customers. Things like where they live, their demographics, their tastes and needs all feed into this – you simply tell the platform what your best customer looks like, and the platform will offer a new audience filled with individuals who match these criteria. You can then target your paid ads towards an entirely new group of people.

4.   Use retargeting ads to stay connected to your organic audience

Did you hear the urban legend about the guy who was planning on surprising his partner with a marriage proposal, only to have the surprise ruined when she went on his laptop and was followed around by ads for engagement rings? This story shows retargeting ads in action (albeit in a slightly disastrous way).

The goal with retargeting is to give your prospective customer a little nudge to encourage them to carry on doing whatever it was they were doing – like completing their checkout, making a donation, or subscribing to a newsletter. They can be really effective for reaching people that have already engaged with your web presence or social media accounts.

“The average click-through rate online for display ads is .07 per cent and the average click-through for retargeted ads is about .7 per cent. The marketing community is discovering that [retargeted ads] can influence conversion…It’s the right ad at the right time to the right person,” says Greg Coleman, president of retargeting company Criteo.

5.   Look at your data, and measure your results

Paying for your ad to be promoted isn’t like waving a magic wand: if it’s not up to scratch or directed at the wrong people (or a bit of both), it might flop. But all is not lost: failure brings opportunity – and if you delve into your social media analytics tools, you can see what went wrong and why – then apply these findings to your next post.

Top tip: Don’t measure paid posts against organic posts, and vice versa: remember to compare like for like.

6.   Optimise your posts using A/B testing

Paid search ad testing can help you work out which combination of things are the most effective. Rather than sink all your budget in one ad, only to have it flop – consider creating two different ads and releasing them to a smaller audience. The one that gets the best results is the one you then take forward and promote on a larger scale. Here are some things you could test:

  • Your image
  • Your copywriting
  • Your Call To Action (CTA)
  • Your audience (try it out on different demographics)

7.   Automate as much as possible

Whether you’re doing organic or paid, or a mix of the two – social media advertising is a time-consuming business. Luckily, there are ways to ease the burden:

  • Use scheduling tools to line up your posts in advance
  • Put a schedule in place so you and your team are streamlined
  • Put some time aside to delve into your metrics, then use this info to refine as you go
  • Work with a specialist to do the heavy lifting for you

A quick guide to paid social media ads on The Big Four


When you’re advertising on Facebook, you’ll want to use Facebook Targeted Ads. This system lets you bid on a number of ads based on your audience. Your bid will then be put in a virtual hat where it may be picked for a chance to run. Facebook also lets you show ads to customers based on their behaviour.


With Twitter ads, you can target your ads to a demographic of your choosing. The platform shows you what you’ll get based on your budget – such as how often it’ll be seen, and ad type (Twitter runs a few different ad formats).


According to one study, 60% of people discover new products on Instagram. Facebook owns Instagram, so that means if you run ads on both platforms, they’re managed in the same place – good news when it comes to analysis, which can run side-by-side (this makes it easier to compare ROI on both platforms).

When it comes to payment, it’s really simple: set your budget, and that directly relates to how long the ad will run. As Hubspot helpfully puts it: “It’s like filling up a gas tank – You get the amount of gas you pay for, and on Instagram, your ad runs for as long as you pay for.”


With paid ads, the platform shows your content to thousands of relevant people in your industry. If you’re targeting B2B professionals, then this is the place to put your cash. With LinkedIn’s targeted ads, you simply select a keyword and choose audiences based around this. So whether you’re publicising an event or advertising a job, it’s easy to get it in front of the right eyes.

Final thoughts

Paid social is a great tool to add to your marketing mix – and one that’s becoming all the more important as organic post engagement continues to fall. Over the next few years, it’s likely this landscape will continue to change as more and more businesses opt for paid ads. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean your ads will need to really work hard to stand out. Clever use of imagery and copy, plus blending demographic and interest-based data will help you create relevant ads that wow.

Paid social is one of the services offered by us at Logica Digital. If you’d like to find out more, or chat with us about your business goals, get in touch today.

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Blog written by

Amy Ward