Mastering the Mix: Integrating Organic and Paid Social Media Strategies

Chad Garbarini and Saloni Ghia

Photo representing social media

According to recent data, U.S. companies are projected to spend $219.8 billion toward social media advertising in 2024. Organic and paid social media are likely already or will become core components of your marketing mix, whether you’re at a start-up with a lean marketing team or a blue-chip company with significant resources.

Of course, pulling the right levers – depending on your goals, audience and budget – is easier said than done. Continue reading to dive into how organic and paid social media can advance your campaigns, the value of a hybrid social strategy, as well as key considerations while building an effective paid campaign.

Organic and Paid Social Media: Exploring a Hybrid Approach

Aligning on Social Media Goals

Since our readers are a wide-ranging audience (i.e., marketers, communications professionals, healthcare professionals (HCPs), etc.), let’s align on some basics. For starters, it’s important to understand the goals with social media in the context of your overall marketing and business objectives. Organic social media is very helpful for establishing a brand or product, its identity and voice, and building relationships with followers, which could be employees, customers and other stakeholders. If you want to reach a new audience or are trying to produce a specific near-term action (e.g., driving booth traffic at an industry meeting, promoting a screening, increasing physician referrals, etc.), you’ll need to put some paid dollars behind that content. In many cases, a mix of both is the best path since paid and organic have complementary value and can most effectively help you reach your marketing goals.

It’s important to understand the goals with social media in the context of your overall marketing and business objectives.

Applying the Hybrid Approach

We used this hybrid approach for the launch of the BEAR® Implant for client Miach Orthopaedics. The BEAR Implant is the first treatment to clinically demonstrate that it restores the natural anatomy and function of a patient’s torn ACL. When the product launched, surgeons’ first BEAR Implant procedures were celebrated using organic social media. These posts were valuable in a couple of ways. We used them on LinkedIn to generate excitement with team members, including the sales team. We also reached physicians with that content, keeping the BEAR Implant top of mind and reinforcing its product positioning. Then, in key markets, we directly targeted prospective patients/families through paid search and social advertising, leading them to the website for more information. The hybrid approach allowed us to reach three different audiences, building the brand and supporting product adoption. In the first year following the launch, there was a 91% increase in social media followers, 25K unique website visitors and 89K clicks on social media ads.

The Key Components of a Successful Paid Social Strategy

Building Awareness or Driving Action

Implementing a paid aspect to your overall social strategy involves thoughtful planning and attention to multiple factors to ensure success. Even with modest budgets, paid social campaigns can produce significant results driving supplemental reach and engagement, giving the opportunity for impactful outcomes regardless of budget size.

Defining specific, measurable goals like increasing brand awareness (with ads optimized for impressions) or driving website traffic (with ads optimized for clicks) will ultimately guide your strategy and help measure success. Knowing whether you want to drive impressions or clicks, for example, also sets the stage to be efficient with your budgets and maximize ROI based on how you set up your campaigns. One example of this is the award-winning Family Heart Foundation’s “Runs in the Family is Not a Diagnosis” campaign. The number one objective of the campaign was to increase awareness and drive people to a landing page we created to learn more about two underdiagnosed genetic cholesterol disorders as potential causes of premature heart attacks and strokes. Having definitive objectives for the campaign helped guide the creative strategies. The ads we created featured real families, and we also utilized influencer videos both organically and in our paid campaigns. “TAKE OUR QUIZ” provided a clear call to action to generate clicks to the landing page. The objectives also influenced how the campaigns’ bidding strategies were set up to maximize the allocated ad budgets for clicks and impressions. The Family Heart Foundation ads reached over 2M people, and drove 35% of the over 63K pageviews to the landing page.

Implementing a paid aspect to your overall social strategy involves thoughtful planning and attention to multiple factors to ensure success.

Targeting with Precision

According to market research firm Gitnux, targeted advertising can increase click-through rates by up to 670% compared to non-targeted ads. It’s important to consider the unique targeting capabilities of each social platform. The major social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, X and TikTok, all have different strengths and potential angles to reach your target audiences. For example, Meta allows targeting to consumers based on interests, behaviors and life events, while LinkedIn specializes in targeting professionals based on job title, industry and company size. Another thing to consider with audience targeting is utilizing your research, sales and marketing data to create look-alike audiences. By identifying common traits among existing customers or engaged users, you can expand your reach to similar individuals for a campaign. Lastly, you can test audience segments with different targeting parameters (called split testing) to refine and optimize your campaigns. This will help identify which audience segments yield the highest engagement and conversion rates, allowing for continuous improvement and maximizing your ROI.

How to Ensure Compelling Creative

Just because you have clear objectives, a well-defined target audience and a dedicated budget doesn’t mean your campaigns will be successful. Even the most well-targeted ads won’t succeed if the creative isn’t compelling and engaging, and the messages personalized. According to Google, creative drives 70% of a campaign’s success. A/B testing creative elements is an effective strategy that allows for further optimization and refinement of campaigns, ensuring maximum engagement and conversion rates. Utilizing ad carousels as a creative testing method can be an effective way to compare different ad variations within the same campaign and determine which generates the most clicks and engagement from your audience. It’s also important to remember that each platform has an ad approval process. You’ll want to allocate sufficient time for this so that your timelines and results are not negatively impacted by any delays or changes required for the creative. So, don’t skimp on the creative; put the time in to come up with attention-getting ideas that support your marketing strategy.

Even the most well-targeted ads won’t succeed if the creative isn’t compelling and engaging, and the messages personalized.

Real-Time Tracking and Analytics for Real-Time Adjustments

Social media ads provide real-time analytics, allowing for rapid performance tracking and campaign optimization. These types of capabilities are crucial to ensuring campaign objectives are being met, the right audience is being targeted and the creative is working. Analytics allow you to learn more about your campaigns and adjust them accordingly. Whether by testing new messaging or implementing additional creative variations, the flexibility of paid social advertising enables you to stay agile and continuously refine your approach to achieve optimal results. Going back to the Family Heart Foundation’s “Runs in the Family is Not a Diagnosis” campaign, tracking and analytics enabled the team to directly optimize the campaigns over time and ultimately measure its effectiveness. An example of this is that less than a month into the campaign, the decision was made to divert funds from YouTube to TikTok because of low success reaching the target demographic. This shift led to significantly better results.

Bringing it Together for an Effective Campaign

By focusing on these key components, organizations can drive significant results by adding a paid social media strategy to their marketing mix, effectively reaching their goals and measuring the impact of their campaigns. It involves a lot of nuances, being able to stay on top of messaging and content that engages your audience and sharing the right creative at the right time with the right target.

If you’re looking for help to elevate your social media presence or find the task of creating a hybrid strategy for your business daunting, we can help. Contact us here and let’s get talking!