Can You Succeed on Social Media Without Paying?

Can You Succeed on Social Media Without Paying?

The world of social media apps is a lucrative business, and if you’ve spent any time at all using them, it’s probably obvious why.

It’s not just because they’re used by so many people –more than half of the world, in fact. It’s also because of advertising.

When you’re scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook feeds, it’s very likely that you’re inundated by ads.

It’s a common complaint on Instagram these days that you’re more likely to see more promoted content from brands or influencers than organic content from the people you’ve actually elected to follow, like friends or family.

But it’s not just ordinary users who are struggling with the influx of ads. The prioritisation of paid content is a major issue for marketers, too.

Social media marketing these days is ‘pay to play’

Social media corporations like Meta or Twitter make their money from paid ad spend. So it’s in their best interest to prioritise paid content and to encourage users to invest budget into their content.

While a few years ago, it was relatively easy for a new brand to build up an organic following on social media, and to generate large amounts of reach and engagement on their posts without paying for promotion, that’s not the case anymore.

Now, brands using social media will struggle to compete with paid content. According to Hootsuite, the average Facebook page sees just 0.07% engagement; meanwhile, the average reach of an organic post on Facebook is only around 5.20%, meaning around one in 19 followers will see the content.

And the numbers on other platforms, like Instagram, aren’t much better.

Can you still succeed on social media without paying?

You can, but it’ll be a lot harder – and you can’t expect to see the same results as brands that do invest in paid ads.

It’s particularly difficult for newer brands. At least those who are more established have an existing following, even if they’re not being shown the content. On the other hand, newer businesses will find it a challenge to grow a following in the first place.

It is possible, but it means you’ve got to up your game.

Tips to improve your organic performance

Create exceptional content

Social media platforms are over-saturated, even before you consider paid or promoted content. In order to stand out, you’ll need to create content that isn’t just decent, but is absolutely excellent.

Creative campaigns, high-quality graphics or videos, brilliant copy – you’ll need to nail all of this. Consider working with a social media agency who can create content for you in order to consistently produce strong results.

Work with the algorithms

Understanding best practices and navigating algorithms is crucial for succeeding on social media. Every social media app, from LinkedIn to TikTok, has an algorithm. Unlocking its secrets and implementing best practices into your content will help you to increase your reach and get your content in front of more people.

Engage your community

The key word in social media is ‘social’. It’s a two-way conversation rather than you aimlessly speaking into the void.

Engage with your audience by responding to their comments on your posts and promptly replying to any messages. Connect with more fans of the business by using social listening on platforms like Twitter. This will also go a long way for building brand loyalty.

Employee advocacy

Engagement such as likes, shares and comments are essential for increasing your reach. As such, it’s important to try and generate more reactions to your content early on, and get it seen by more eyeballs.

Employee advocacy is super useful for this. Ask your employees to comment on or share content you put out to put it in good standing with the algorithm.

Use strong CTAs

You can also encourage reactions and engagements by using powerful calls-to-action (CTAs) in your content. For example, ask a question at the end of your post, or use emotion or storytelling to encourage followers to share their own thoughts or opinions.

One thing to be wary of is engagement bait. Social media platforms don’t like brands outright asking users to like or comment, and will penalise their reach as a result. You need to be subtle.

Devise a content strategy

Creating a content strategy is a brilliant idea. It’ll help keep all of your content connected and cohesive, and it’ll mean you’re making smarter, more strategic decisions with your content, rather than risking posting for the sake of it.

Content strategy also relies on data. Using your analytics to make marketing decisions is important as it means that you can more easily create the type of content that your audience actually wants to see.

Should I try organic or give paid advertising a go?

The truth is, only you can make that decision, and it’ll depend a lot on both your business goals and your marketing budget.

Organic social can still work in 2023, but you’ll likely need the support of a dedicated social media marketing agency in order to produce better content, outsmart the algorithms, and improve your overall performance.

Paid advertising can be extremely lucrative, and can help your business to produce good results faster. However, again, you should invest in the help of a paid social media ads specialist in order to make the most of your money and ensure your budget is spent wisely.

Here’s the good news: you’re in the right place for both. ITK Media can help you to navigate the worlds of both organic and paid social. With experience in curating data-led content, and knowledge of how both organic and paid algorithms function, we can help you cut through the white noise.

Want a helping hand to supercharge your marketing in 2023? Head here and give us a call.