Attention is like oxygen to a brand. One way to generate more attention is to use social media. Many brands then toy with whether to take the paid or organic route?

There are benefits to both. Small businesses often compete with large multinational companies. These have a wide, established reach. Gaining attention is difficult enough so paid could be the answer.

Paying for followers

Paid advertising is an immensely powerful tool – especially on LinkedIn, where you can target a very specific audience. A little bit of funding goes a long way, giving social media teams a helping hand in competing with larger, well-established companies.

The process is attractive and almost addictive, especially for those who have been trying the organic route for years.

Is there even a point to organic?

Building a social following from the ground up is a challenge – anyone who has tried it can attest to the often-complicated process of creating interesting content, following the right people and jumping on relevant trends. It can feel like begging for an audience to listen to you sometimes.

However, by taking away the shortcut of paid, an interesting dynamic is created between follower and company. Check most generic company Twitter accounts that boast millions of followers and you quickly notice they get five or six retweets and a handful of likes per post. Head to a small, hand picked company Twitter account and you often see similar – if not more – engagement. Organic growth means the people who follow an account actually care about the content.

Speaking of content – removing the shortcut of paid demands a level of content quality. If what is being posted is not good enough, there is no other way that account is going to grow.

We recently completed a campaign for World IP Day, sharing one Tweet per hour that celebrated 24 leading woman innovators. With videos, blogs, social cards and more, the client’s organic following loved and re-shared this content widely. A lack of paid required a new approach – one that put women innovators in the spotlight.

So what company are you?

The choice your company needs to make is whether they value large follower numbers and a wide reach more than a core, hand-picked, group of followers that really care. The choice is yours, but we advocate a mix, with an emphasis on organic. This way, when it is time to boost a campaign, core followers are there to actively share and promote the content, encouraging a wider audience to participate – a win-win situation that effectively builds on the strengths of both approaches.

Laurens Grisel

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