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What’s a ‘Follower’ Worth? Organic vs Paid Social Strategies

Estimated Reading time: 2 minutes • April 16, 2012

Years into marketers’ wholesale adoption of social media, the advertising and marketing community still finds itself no better able to measure the value of organic vs. paid social strategies. So many social campaigns rooted in “engagement” spiral into contemplations of cultural trends, the whims of the masses, and seemingly inexplicable motivations for consumer behavior. The abstraction of “engagement” metrics typically gives way to quantitative measurement – like the size of one’s follower base, CPC, or ROAS.

Back in 2011, The Designists presciently investigated, in terms both quantitative and qualitative, a “friend’s” worth. While Facebook has changed radically since then, this great video speaks to the relationship between organic vs. paid social strategies in a way that’s relevant to social channels from Vkontakte, WeChat, Weibo and beyond.

Naturally, both then and now, the debate within the marketing and advertising community regarding the efficacy of organic vs paid social strategies has been considerable. Which is the better, more efficient way of reliably influencing audiences?

Organic social campaigns, of course, rely on the free tools provided by social networks to build and interact with users. But these tools can require considerable resources to generate the content, and “manpower” to monitor, for instance responding to user comments. While organic social campaigns appear to be a cost-effective and trustworthy marketing approach, these campaigns often require significant strategy and maintenance as marketers constantly strive to find new ways to organically engage users. In addition, organic content does not carry the same targeting capabilities as paid content.

Paid social campaigns rely on advertisements, which businesses and other entities place based on users’ personal information and habits. While the targeting capabilities of paid social campaigns exceed those of organic campaigns, users are often wary of paid content, placing more trust in organic content. Further, to state the obvious, there is a cost associated with paid social campaigns.

Both organic and paid social campaigns are important to maintaining an online presence and connecting with users, and their benefits and drawbacks should be noted before launching a social campaign.

[vimeo w=400&h=225]

Measuring The Impact Of Facebook from the designists on Vimeo.

Suggested screening:


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