Organic content is far from dead

Amber Robinson writes about why there is still an important place for organic content alongside paid social. 

I hear all the time in agency-land that organic content is dead. It’s a line regularly trotted out by media agencies who perhaps don’t have the experience in social media that holistic online community managers have.

It is true that most social platforms operate on a pay-to-play model. Take Facebook, where it’s likely that only 5 percent of your followers will see one of your posts. Throw some money behind your posts and bingo! Guaranteed eyeballs will hit your ads, and hopefully, take action.

While paid social definitely has a role to play, organic content is far from dead. In fact, companies who invest in a strong organic content strategy are likely to enjoy a better relationship with their customers and lay a robust foundation for a more extensive marketing strategy.

Be social on social

At the heart of it, social media is different from one-way broadcast and display marketing options. It allows a genuine, ongoing conversation with customers. Leading brands understand this, and are, well, social on social. If one of the chief roles of marketing and advertising is to connect a brand to its customers, that’s what social media does, which is as noble as a goal for Boris the Butcher and his $25 marketing budget as it is for the SVP of Marketing of an FMCG company with a $25 million budget. 

Quite simply, audiences just expect a brand to be active on social and use it as a marker of brand trust. If you’re pushing all activity to paid, it’s likely your account will look sparse and rarely updated. It’s the same as having an out of office message on your company’s phone number. 

The fun thing about organic content is that it’s free. Therefore it’s a low-risk environment to test new creative approaches instantly. It allows brands to be reactive to current events. I can’t say that I often look at the Art Gallery of NSW’s Facebook page, despite being a regular visitor to the gallery. But I did find their recent COVID-19 series of posts incredibly entertaining, prompting me to like the page and share some of their posts with my friends.

The UK optical retail chain Specsavers is another brand known for reactive, clever content. They regularly use their catchphrase ‘Should have gone to Specsavers’ to insert themselves into breaking news on Twitter.

Create a loyalty strategy

Of course, one-off marketing stunts don’t build long-term relationships. Established brands need a loyalty strategy. The first step is to build an engaged community and communities aren’t built on occasional ads. Trust is earned and well-executed organic content rates way higher on the trust meter. Locally, toilet paper tsars Who Gives a Crap publish to Facebook often, encourage user-generated content and like to have a good chat in the comments. Social algorithms reward engagement, so by encouraging fan interaction, brands are likely to see even higher reach.

Facebook’s Groups strategy understands that communities are at the heart of social networks and savvy marketers have been quick to embrace this approach. Peloton exercise bikes, who recently launched in Australia, have a sophisticated community strategy of an online Facebook fan group now embraced and operated by the brand, as well as spin-off communities like the Official Peloton Mum Group and Super Newbie Peloton Riders. The company has baked-in community membership to their onboarding process, and just by-the-by, they hit $2 billion in revenue last year.

Whether you’re trying to cultivate community and create conversation in a group, on Instagram, LinkedIn or TikTok, leveraging organic content requires a high degree of quality and knowing your audience inside out. Content is still king. Your messaging needs to be clear and consistent. It should have an engaging hook, using emotional levers like joy, surprise or humour. 

Perhaps some brands de-prioritise organic content because it’s not easy and you can’t spend your way to better results. With the right creative team, however, beautiful synchronicity can be found when paid and organic social teams play together.

 

Amber Robinson is the marketing director at Quiip.

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash.