Organic and paid social—they’re the peanut butter and jelly of marketing. Together, they’re an unstoppable duo—a classic combination that can win over any crowd.

Unfortunately, these two worlds often work in silos as separate teams or even separate departments. At Hootsuite, we know our social success is directly tied to our integration of paid and organic efforts. I sat down with some experts at Hootsuite and they shared how our strategic efforts work together.

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

Why unite organic and paid social strategies?

Simply put, you can’t afford not to—organic and paid need one another to be successful.

As Hootsuite’s social marketing specialist Brayden Cohen says, “In today’s social landscape, paid and organic need to create a complementary strategic approach—and the more harmonized these efforts are, the better your results will be.”

Organic is essential for building your brand and growing your community. However, because network algorithms are always changing, your organic posts won’t get the same play time that they used to—even if a top-performing post gets a ton of engagement from followers.

A paid social strategy expands your reach by exposing your content to more people. You can also target specific audiences based on demographics to boost the effectiveness of your prospecting and lead generation. However, you can’t run effective paid campaigns without a base audience base—and organic social is the day-to-day workhorse that builds that initial audience for you.

The more integrated you are, the more ROI you’ll see

When we surveyed over 3,100 marketers for our Social Media Trends 2020 report, we found that having an integrated customer engagement approach between social media and other digital and traditional channels leads to a higher level of confidence in social ROI.

From a customer experience perspective, this makes a lot of sense. Hootsuite’s principal business value consultant Mark Abrami notes that, “At first glance, it might seem more convenient for a business to separate paid and organic, but this is a mistake. From the customer’s perspective, this creates a very disjointed experience—and it shows in the overall success of both programs.”

How to better integrate your paid and organic social—tips from Hootsuite’s pros

Wondering how to make organic and paid programs work as a seamless part of your social strategy? Hootsuite experts share what you should prioritize when it comes to integrating your efforts.

Focus on your organic content calendar, then experiment

In the race to see bigger and better results from social, it can be easy to overlook the obvious: Regularly posting a diverse mix of quality organic content is absolutely essential for building a community and for your long-term growth efforts.

“Before you do anything on social,” Cohen says, “you need to get your organic content calendar down pat. It’s impossible to have an engaged, loyal following without one. You need a foundation before you can focus on building upwards.”

Your content calendar should be driven by a working social media strategy, which will help you define what to post, how often, and when.

Jumping into creating ads without a solid foundation will yield uneven results—that’s why it’s so important to use your organic content as a testing ground for your ads. “Once you’ve seen what resonates with your audience on the organic side, you can actually start working with data that will help define the paid side of your strategy,” says Cohen. “For example, with Hootsuite Promote, we can set up automatic triggers to promote organic content that is doing really well. This allows us to optimize our ad spend by investing our dollars into top-performing posts.”

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

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Invest in employee advocacy as an area of organic testing

Employee advocacy is a growing area of opportunity that a lot of social teams aren’t capitalizing on. According to our Social Trends 2020 survey, only 30% of organizations run advocacy programs.

At Hootsuite, we know how important employee advocacy is to our organic and paid marketing strategies. Your employees have an incredible amount of social influence among their peers—and they’re trusted more than your brand. That’s why your employees play an essential role in the path to purchase. According to a study by Forrester, 81% of people who credit social media for a purchase decision cite seeing a friend’s post or actively seeking out advice from peers.

Our team at Hootsuite has found not only that social networks prioritize posts from peers, but also that these posts have a bigger impact. For example, just one piece of content shared through Amplify—our social advocacy tool—can garner over 150,000 people in reach from employees sharing it to their own social networks. It’s an effective way to reach more potential customers and test content before putting ad spend behind it.

“As we’ve seen over the years,” Cohen says, “an employee advocacy program helps brand building efforts, and in doing so creates more potential for revenue from the ad campaigns we run. It’s another area to test out what’s working and invest our ad dollars into content that has a proven track record.”

Integrate your social lead tracking across teams

Once you’ve invested in the long game of an efficiently managed organic content calendar, you can start thinking about how to extend your reach beyond your core loyal followers to reach new audiences. As Cohen says, “Reach and lead generation are where ads become essential.”

Automating manual tasks like tracking leads can build a bridge between you and other teams that are also focusing on lead generation, helping all teams save time and avoid doubling up on work.

“We use tools that allow us to connect to multiple platforms so we can automate workflows across teams and track leads from social,” says Cohen. For example, with Hootsuite Ads, which allows us to run our search and social ads together, we’ve also set up automatic targeting and synchronized all our Facebook leads between CRM accounts. Instead of manually uploading lead information from a CSV file, we can keep our audiences automatically connected.”

For big campaigns or other lead generation initiatives that exist outside of our business-as-usual efforts, we set aside an ad budget that will allow us to reach specific customer groups with highly targeted content. “This type of planning allows us to map out our ad budgets on a quarterly and yearly basis,” says Cohen. “All of our metrics for these ads roll up to broader business objectives—and complement the lead generation efforts of the other teams we work with.”

Analyze your organic and paid metrics together

It’s almost impossible to track return on investment if you don’t have a bird’s-eye view of all your organic and paid content. That’s how you get the full picture of how everything works together.

“There’s no way we could manage everything if we didn’t all work within one platform,” says Cohen. “It’s essential for tracking metrics and sharing our results with the business.”

Our ROI tool Hootsuite Impact acts as our central source of truth: “The dashboard lets us see how posts are performing in real time and make changes instantly. If something isn’t going well, we know right away and can switch up our strategy. We can also analyze data from organic and paid posts together or separately using Impact—which is super useful. This allows us to pull all our metrics for weekly, monthly, and quarterly reporting.”

Be selective about what you measure

There’s a lot you can measure on social. But that doesn’t mean you should measure everything. Attribution remains a complex challenge for social marketers. If you get buried in the flurry of what’s possible to measure rather than focusing on what you should measure, you’ll end up even further astray.

“It’s always surprising to me when I hear people at other organizations say that they’re spending all this ad money and don’t really know where it’s going,” says Abrami. “If you don’t know what you’re tracking, you won’t be effective. There are too many things you can measure. That’s why you have to clearly define your goals and metrics. Otherwise, you get lost looking at data that isn’t actually that relevant to what you need to know as a business.”

Focus on the metrics that are most useful to your team KPIs and work from there. “You have to be selective,” says Abrami. “That’s the secret to success. By being laser focused on what you need to measure and why, it’s easier to report on the success of the actual program.”

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