Survey: Organic Vs. Paid Social Media for B2B Service Providers
We asked our partners for their thoughts on organic vs. paid social media for B2B service providers—and they certainly delivered.
With all the algorithm changes and focus on paid media these days, it’s easy to question: Does organic social media still hold value? And since social media best practices operate differently for B2B businesses, how should a company’s strategy balance organic and paid social media? We asked and got a tremendous response from the UpCity community.
What’s striking is that every single respondent agreed that organic social media still holds value, despite paid media being proven to garner more impressions and views. Additionally, most agreed that B2B businesses don’t necessarily need to shift their focus to prioritizing paid media at this time.
Furthermore, we got some creative ideas for organic social media posts. Here’s a selection of some of our favorite survey responses regarding why organic social media isn’t leaving anytime soon:
Does organic social media carry any value for B2B providers? Please elaborate on why or why not?
“Absolutely. The B2B clients I work with don’t need to reach every potential buyer in the world, just those that are a good fit for their product/service. Paid social media outreach is far too broad for what they need, but organic reach allows us to target the networks and customers that make the most sense for them, allowing us to demonstrate their value by participating in the buyer community in a natural, engaging way.” –Tim Sprinkle, Layup Content
“Yes, organic social media has value in B2B businesses. Fundamentally a company is made up of many individual contributors. By having a presence on the social media platforms frequented by people who make purchasing decisions at your target companies–you can gain trust and visibility. Having a presence where your “buyers” are in a social and friendly way can serve as a significant trust factor. Also, keep in mind, people are going to social media primarily for the social aspect–so don’t sell. Instead, use social media as a way to connect organically and add value to the conversation.” –Richard Burner, Goals Marketing
“Yes, whether paid or organic, anytime you can get in front of a potential client it grows business awareness among the public, and nothing can beat the price of organic.” –Miguel Cairo, Unique Web Designer
“Organic social media absolutely has value for B2B providers depending on the business. Organic social posts give B2B providers a way to show their clients and prospects they are keeping up with their news by engaging in their posts. It can also be a great opportunity to promote your own individual team member’s accomplishments and showcase your brand values through your social media messaging. Organic social isn’t always a direct lead generation machine but that doesn’t mean there isn’t another inherent value to keeping up a social media presence.” –Colton De Vos, Resolute Technology Solutions
“Absolutely. Organic social media helps brands develop and refine their voice, and allows them to build a loyal, engaged audience. Besides, the posting and engagement are free (outside of the cost of producing/acquiring the content), so it can contribute to a better ROI for social media.” –John Errington, JFE Productions
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What kind of unpaid posts should B2B service providers use in their social media channels?
“It’s all about adding context. Often we do that by sharing industry news stories or other updates that we wrap their insights around. That way we get to piggyback on a larger story (potentially with a company with a larger reach) while also demonstrating their deep expertise on the topic.” –Tim Sprinkle, Layup Content
“The most successful unpaid social media posts are directed to the people your organization interacts with professionally. B2B service providers should consider who makes purchasing decisions in the organizations they target to sell services and products. Then posting decisions can be made based on the habits and preferences of the target audience. Generally speaking, Linkedin is an excellent location to reach professionals. And posts that are relevant to a specific event or trending topic can quickly gain visibility. Positive and uplifting posts are best for a professional organization.” –Richard Burner, Goals Marketing
“We have found that our best performing unpaid posts tend to be the ones where we showcase a previous project and add value to that client by mentioning their company and what they do (not just talk about how great we did).” –Miguel Cairo, Unique Web Designer
“Brand awareness, “meet the team”, showcasing your work (i.e. portfolio), and other examples will greatly add value to your company, even if your end-users are other companies.” –Christopher Mendes, 2Leaf
“Some good examples of unpaid posts from B2B providers can include job posts, promoting community/charity events, sharing learning opportunities within their field of work, and expert tips that only companies with specific domain knowledge might know. Sharing kudos when an employee, partner, or client reaches a major milestone or accomplishment is another great post that spreads positivity and encouragement.” –Colton De Vos, Resolute Technology Solutions
“The short answer: whatever works! I know that seems cliche but try different kinds–long-form vs. short-form, static images vs. no images; video vs. audio (like podcast snippets). And try out polls, full articles, and other interactive types of posts. Consider that each audience segment and social platform will have its own unique preferences for the types of posts you publish. I’m a big fan of creating great long-form content–like deep-dive articles or videos–and then breaking out pieces to deliver on social platforms in various kinds of ways like podcasting, videos, infographics, shorter articles, etc. It’s like using all the parts of the buffalo: spend the bulk of your time and thinking on the big piece and then break it down into all sorts of components in different types of media and channels.” –Mike Jones, Resound
“Introducing your team, showing behind the scenes, sharing your pillars, mission, educational posts about your product, etc —anything that illustrates the integrity as a brand, or provides useful information will be valuable to your audience.” –Kana LiVolsi, Dos Mundos Creative
“There are a lot of opportunities here, and a lot depends on the product/service and the audience. Process or progress posts can get the audience excited about new offerings as well as educate them. Education is huge when it comes to service-based companies. This type of engagement has the double-benefit of establishing authority or thought-leadership within an industry or market.” –John Errington, JFE Productions
“Most organic social media should be helping your customers get to know you. You shouldn’t promote all the time. Instead, post about day-to-day things that show your personality, your commitment to excellence, and that you treat your customers, team, and community well. That will help build trust and loyalty with your followers.” –Dan Novalis, 2Novas Inc.
Should B2B service providers focus their social efforts primarily on paid media? Why or why not?
“Nope. As mentioned, paid media has its place but B2B clients typically find far more impact from organic reach and community participation, particularly when working on a long sales cycle.” –Tim Sprinkle, Layup Content
“No, although paid search is helpful in getting traffic and with brand recognition, ranking organically in social help bring the right customers.” –Karen Mikami, Knowmad Digital Marketing
“It’s situational whether a B2B service provider should focus on a paid or organic social media. To generalize, we believe focusing on paid is the best way to start. With a ruthless focus on Return on investment, you will optimize content to most appeal to your target audience. Once you have gotten consistently positive results, then you can pivot to organic social media. Remember to factor in your time involvement in the ROI calculation.” –Richard Burner, Goals Marketing
“We do not spend money on paid media because our organic efforts work so well. However, I do think most B2B service providers should find a balance between the two. There is nothing wrong with paid media so long as you get a healthy return on investment.” –Miguel Cairo, Unique Web Designer
“It depends on the company, but in general B2B service providers should not focus on paid media unless you can definitely target the intended decision-makers (i.e. through detailed demographic targeted ads). In general, B2B social media should be more about brand awareness and securing the business of people who already know who you are and are looking up your social media handle specifically to find out more about you as a company. Use it as a branding and sales tool and you will have better results.” –Christopher Mendes, 2Leaf
“Paid social is a powerful tool when used correctly as part of a larger digital marketing strategy. It can be useful to couple your organic strategy with paid to build more of an audience at first. Or when you are promoting other digital lead gen channels such as gated content, expert webinars, etc. If you have a very specific buyer profile that you are trying to target with your posts, paid social will allow direct messaging to them. Paid social posts can be a good way to get prospects through the door but there needs to be an enticing offer or well-built content strategy on the other side to keep them engaged.” –Colton De Vos, Resolute Technology Solutions
“With social media for B2B providers, the key is to have great organic content that is getting engagement and then use paid campaigns to boost your content to a wider audience. Your organic content is a great way to test the waters: is this message in this format resonating? If so, throw some ad dollars towards it and boost it out to a wider audience. If it’s not getting engagement before you boost, it’s not likely to do well once you put money behind it anyways. The best-paid media on social is boosted organic posts. Sidebar ads and other types can work in specific circumstances but generally are much less effective since they’re not in the native “stream” of posts people are engaging with.” –Mike Jones, Resound
It really depends on how established the rest of your “digital resume” is, as well as your marketing budget. Paid media is only as valuable as the rest of your digital footprint. If you have a fantastic ad, but your website or social media presence is sketchy you risk hurting your brand reputation or being seen as a SPAMMY company. It is definitely a case-by-case basis, but generally speaking, if a company is at a point where they have a trustworthy, personal-feeling online presence and solid marketing funnels to support any ad efforts—then they can absolutely focus a larger portion of their marketing budget on paid media and get a return. However, having a solid foundation is crucial. – Kana LiVolsi, Dos Mundos Creative
“More often than not, we find ourselves on social media during intermissions from other activities and not actively looking for B2B services. So, I think PPC is a more effective advertising channel than paid social media. We have seen Google search ads be far more effective for our clients.” –Isabel Illig, Front Porch Solutions
“Trick question! It really depends. If rapid growth into new segments is necessary, then paid media can be helpful in acquiring new audiences. If the focus is on providing good customer service/engagement, then paid may not be the best way to build brand loyalty.” –John Errington, JFE Productions
“Depends on your industry. If you’re serving clients that also depend on paid media, then yes–you should show off your social media savvy. You’re not going to sell a large B2B service package via a Facebook ad–but it could be an important tool for brand building especially if your clients depend on Facebook for their businesses.” –Dan Novalis, 2Novas Inc.