By Elisabeth Bromburg
As social platforms continue to build out paid products and shifting their algorithms to reduce the volume of organic brand posts in users’ feeds, marketers continue to question whether organic social is still a worthwhile investment.
The short answer? Yes. While paid social is necessary to drive awareness and immediate conversion, organic social still accomplishes a number of key goals:
1. Driving product discovery. A new study from Curalate found that 76% of consumers have purchased a product they’ve viewed on a brand’s social pages. Nearly two-thirds of these consumers went on to buy something they discovered on social at a later date, either online or in-store—and over 20% are going to a physical retail location to purchase. This purchase behavior suggests that attempting to evaluate social purely as a direct-response channel significantly undervalues the contribution of social media to sales. Compare this to visual merchandising, as the study did: Can you measure the direct impact on sales of a beautifully-designed store window that showcases new products? No, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have impact in enticing potential shoppers to venture inside to browse and eventually purchase a product. Organic social content is the same way: regular, ongoing content can drive consideration in customers, pushing them further down the funnel to conversion.
2. Building customer relationships. The original purpose of social media was to build connections. You don’t build meaningful relationships with your customers by constantly trying to sell to them. Organic content and conversations allow brands to entertain, inspire, and educate users, giving them a reason to follow a brand on social channels. This growing organic audience then becomes a group of engaged customers that you can more effectively spend paid against in the future. And aside from engaging followers with content, social media continues to play a huge role in customer service, allowing brands to provide a level of personal and meaningful customer service and relevancy not possible on any other channel. Through emotive and helpful content and thoughtful timely customer service, you can articulate your brand’s personality and improve customer retention.
3. Gleaning powerful customer insights. Organic social is a remarkably cost-effective way of testing and learning content to discover what resonates with your customers. From polls to testing creative, brands can use organic social to inform product development or even that new video ad you’re thinking about putting millions of dollars behind. Organic social gives brands the unparalleled opportunity to learn more about their customers to improve their communications, leading to improved brand sentiment.
If you’re thinking of increasing your organic spend, Instagram is a great place to start. According to a 2017 Shareablee study, brands are still seeing the most follower growth by far on Instagram – the channel saw 69% growth in 2016 vs. just 9% on Facebook and 2% on Twitter. And Instagram is getting the lion’s share of interactions: While just 10% of brand posts in 2016 across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram occurred on Instagram, the platform accounted for 42% of all interactions, according to an L2 analysis on share of interactions.
From driving product discovery to building customer relationships and gleaning powerful customer insights that can have an impact in key business decisions, organic social should still be an integral component of any brand’s digital marketing strategy.