Which is better, organic or paid marketing? ?

On one end of the spectrum, you have marketers who are 100% anti-paid strategies and ALL about organic…

And on the other end, you have some who think organic marketing SUCKS because the reach is so limited compared to paid.

So where do I stand on all of this? You’ll find me somewhere right in the middle as I believe they go hand in hand.

The most successful marketing strategies I’ve seen are those that cohesively combine BOTH organic and paid efforts.

That’s why in the latest episode of the Not For Lazy Marketers Podcast, I’m dishing out:

  • The two keys to successful organic marketing
  • Your organic posting and platform strategy
  • How to intentionally tie in paid ads into your organic efforts
  • The boundaries you need to set for yourself as a CEO for how you show up online

Grab a notepad (or pull up your notes app!) and tune in as we crack the code on leveraging organic and paid efforts simultaneously!

After listening, tag me on Instagram (@emilyhirsh) and share your biggest takeaway from this episode!

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Emily Hirsh:

Hello everybody. I hope you guys are doing amazing. I am recording this back at home in my office in Austin, Texas. We got back last night as of recording this and it feels good to be home. I did miss my husband, he was not with us for a few weeks, but it actually went by really fast for me. He says it went by really slow for him. Poor guy. He doesn’t like being in the house by himself without his family, which I get. I think I’d be maybe the first day really excited about it and then miss the kids because of the chaos. You get used to the chaos. It’s good to be back. It’s hot here. In a month I’m leaving again for the rest of the summer, pretty much through August. I can’t wait and I just feel so grateful.

I talked to people in Austin and I’m like, “yeah, we’re home for a month, but we’re leaving again for six weeks in a month.” And they say, “that’s so cool that you can do that.” I knew when I moved here that was going to be what I did. That was the only way I was going to move here and deal with the summers because I just like to be outside too much, and you can’t go outside past 9:00 AM at the latest. I went for my walk today at 8:30am because I’m still on Pacific time. It was so hot. This is terrible. I’m in shorts and a t-shirt at 8:30 and sweating. So I just don’t dig it. I like to be outside too much, and hiking, which is why we’re also going to Colorado for a month and I can’t wait.

In today’s podcast episode. I want to dive into organic and paid strategies and how to have those co-exist. What should you be doing on organic? How do you tie that into your paid strategies? Is one better than the other? This is a topic I’ve probably talked about before, but I wanted to retouch on it because it’s one of those foundational things. I think people have different opinions on it out there who are teaching, and some people are like anti-paid and pro-organic strategies. Some are all about organic and think that’s the way you get sales. And several who like only paid ads and think organic sucks because you get no reach. I know there are a lot of mixed opinions, and of course, everything I say is an opinion, but it’s also based on my experience on what works. It’s a lot of what we do as a company and we are constantly refining. 

First of all, it’s a blanket statement. I do think that there’s still a place for organic marketing and for success with organic marketing, and I think that at the least, having consistent frequent posts and content on your organic social media, that means posting on Instagram, posting on Facebook, maybe you post YouTube videos, or you go on TedTalk, it depends on your business. We’ll talk about that and choosing platforms in a second, but doing that consistently and having a presence I think is important and I would definitely say is worth effort and resources in your business. Now, I don’t think you need to do something every single day, and I don’t think that it will be more impactful and successful than paid ads because of the reach.

It is absolutely true that just about 10% of your audience actually sees your posts. So posting organically and banking on that being the way you get leads and sales definitely will result in you being disappointed, because that’s just not the reality with organic marketing. However, if you run paid ads… what I like to think about is when you’re running paid ads, people are going to be clicking on your profiles, whether that’s Instagram or Facebook. If they see your paid ad and they want to check out more, they’re going to click on your profiles and if they go there and see that you have seven followers and no posts, you don’t look very legit. Having frequent posts and content that people can see when they see your paid ad and then they go to your profile is important and builds credibility around the ads that you’re actually putting out there, because then when they go dig deeper on your brand, they will have that credibility.

Of course, having 10,000 plus followers on Instagram is great. I don’t have that yet. That actually is a quarter three goal for us, but it does build credibility. As much as I think that likes and followers are vanity metrics, I also know that humans go to profiles and make assumptions based on the number of followers or likes that they have. So that’s something to continually build. Now, I would never personally pay for likes on my Facebook or followers on Instagram. One, one because they’re not quality. Two, because I’d rather put money behind my actual content and build relationships and true believers following me versus just that number. But it is valuable. 

I don’t want to undervalue that and say you don’t need any likes or followers on your Instagram, or likes on your Facebook. The most important thing with organic is consistency, because you look at it as kind of, it’s your report card of your business, right? Just think of yourself looking at a company, if you saw an ad and then you went to that company’s profile and they hadn’t posted in a year, honestly, what are the judgments that you’d subconsciously have in your head? I know for me, I’d think they’re not as legit of a company, or they are new, or they’re not as serious, or they’re not as committed to showing up. I would have those judgments. Just ask yourself what you would feel. You’d probably have similar thoughts to me now. There’s definitely companies out there who don’t post consistently and still do well, that’s possible, but I think especially if you’re trying to build credibility with your ads and you don’t already have it in a massive way, most companies are showing up consistently on social media. So that’s one big reason. 

The other is you can get people who will see your organic posts and engage with your brand and become a customer. For me, what I like to think is that organic is a form of touch points. So I recently did a podcast about five touch points to a sale and how on average, it takes someone five to seven times of having a touch point with your brand before they become a sale. Now, reading and engaging in a social media post, watching your stories on Instagram, that is a touch point. So for me, I grow my followers and grow our following. Usually when I run ads, the more we spend on ads, the more increase I see in my followers and in my likes on Facebook, because people are going and checking out my profile and following me, now my social media posts and showing up for them. It’s a touch point. It’s a way to stay in front of them to get my name out there. If somebody you know, you watch their story, or you see a post and even if it was 10 seconds that you actually registered their name and their post, they have now popped into your head. That’s been a very quick recognition and connection to their brand, right? So that counts as a touch point. 

I also see social media as that is showing up consistently so that my warm audience and my people who are starting to engage with my brand or have been engaging with my brand, they continually see me. Now five to seven touchpoints is an average. I mean, it might take somebody a hundred touch points before they actually decide to work with us because they might not be ready yet, but when they are ready, I want to be that company that they think of. That comes from showing up consistently. 

Let’s talk a little bit about actual posting strategy and platforms. I am not an organic marketing expert, but I do want to share what we do because I think it works well. We have a lot of conversations around this as a team, we’re always improving. I think there’s one thing that I’d say way too many people do this and I want to stop it for you guys, which is people get caught up on I have to post three times a week, or five times a week, or seven times a week, or twice a day because they saw some advice out there where somebody said that. So they are posting and creating this content machine where they’re trying to create all this content to check off the box of I posted this many times in a week, or this many times a day, or whatever it is. The problem with that is then the quality of your content goes down. 

We recently had this discussion on my team and it was around what is that like one filter that we want to run everything through? Is it every post, every email, every ad, every campaign, everything we do, the one thing we want to run it through and we had this discussion. What I said is, is it different and innovative? Does it stand out? Because that’s something I pride myself in with my brand is I am straight to the point, I have accurate information for you guys with no BS and we are different. We are the cutting edge, doing the podcast secret series before anybody else does it, trying something new, saying hey everybody’s over here doing this and we’re doing this. I pride myself in being that, I guess you’d say like rebel a little bit, but really just different. Dfferent than the crowd. I don’t want to be in the crowd. I want to stand out. I want to be innovative. I want to be loud. 

So we told our social media and marketing team, and we had this discussion and got to like every post that we put out there, one, it needs to be valuable. if you read it And you’re think this is just filling in the spaces. I would rather you not post that day because you lack time to get something together, or we had to change things, and whatever happened. I’d rather not post than put something out there that’s fluffy and doesn’t provide value. Two, it needs to be innovative. It needs to stand out. When somebody reads it, I want them to go wow that is cool, or I want to implement that, or that’s different than what I’ve seen before. I want it to stand out. I’d rather us not post and not have something that doesn’t meet that standard, then get a post out there that doesn’t meet it. 

That is one thing when you are showing up organically, what is the filter you want your brand to be run through? What do you want to be known for? How do you want that to show up very consistently across the board? Now that, like I said, comes down to emails, ads, the actual campaigns you’re running, the messaging, the voice behind your brand, but it’s also your social media posts. So I’d encourage you to have one question, one core thing that if I were to ask you, what do you want your brand to be known and whatever that answer is, when you do all your social media posts and content, meet that. Are they on brand? 

It sounds so cliché, but seriously, these little things do matter. They always say how in the big scheme of things, whether it’s teams or your business, all the little things add up to be a big thing. So success on social media isn’t having a couple of viral posts, that’s not what it is. It’s all these micro posts and it’s content that you’re consistently creating, adding up to be a very powerful brand message. So what is that one filter that you want to run all of your content through?

Then I’d also just challenge you to ask on everything that you put out there, is this going to make an impact? Is this valuable to my audience? If they read just this post, or they just watch this story, will they get value from it? If the answer is no, don’t post it because it’s better to not. There is way too much fluffy information and noise out there. You don’t want to blend in with that noise. You want to stand out from the noise and the way you do that is by creating content that in and of itself, the post, the story, the email, the blog, whatever it is, makes an impact. So you should run your content through that filter as well.

Now let’s talk a little bit about what platforms and how often. So here’s my theory. I’m a big Facebook and Instagram platform girl. Those are my two core platforms. We are going to start expanding out and testing LinkedIn and probably YouTube, but that’s because I have the team to be able to test those things and we’re doing it on a very small level. My suggestion is to choose two to three platforms, really more like two. You could count Facebook and Instagram as one, and then choose one more and go all in on those. I don’t encourage you to be like, I have to be on TikTok, on Pinterest, on LinkedIn, on YouTube, on Facebook, on Instagram, because then that question of is my content quality really comes into play. Most likely the answer is no, because how can you create quality content for seven platforms at a time? You can’t. You’re just repurposing and regurgitating content. 

I know there’s people out there who promote this content machine and having one core piece of content and breaking it down into a bunch of pieces. Maybe in theory that’s great, but I just think that you need to create content specific for that platform and you need to make sure that it’s valuable. If you are a one person or two person team, or even a three person team, like my marketing team, that’s impossible to do for seven platforms. If you’re Gary Vaynerchuk, you’ve got probably a 50 person marketing team, then you can do that, but don’t choose to do that now. So choose two to three platforms and go all in on those, and of course, think about the platforms that your audience is going to be on and your audience is going to be engaging on. I hear people all the time who are like, “oh my god, Pinterest ads. Pinterest is amazing. I’m seeing results” Or my client’s seen results from those, which is probably true for that one client, but I know for a fact, my customers are not on Pinterest. Maybe a little bit of them are, but I’m not going to see that level of results on Pinterest that I would on Instagram.

Knowing your audience and where they’re at is of course really important, and I think sometimes we get caught up in carried away in somebody promoting a platform that worked really well for them and was because their audiences on that platform. Choose two to three platforms, post the amount that you can post that is creating that valuable content, running it through that core filter you want to run it through, and is at least once a week. That’s my advice on frequency.

Then I will just note here. I do think Instagram stories are one of the best ways to show up online for almost all industries. I know that the very little that I engage on Instagram on social media, I don’t have it on my phone. So I’m very intentional with my time and you guys might have noticed, but this year I kind of stopped showing up on Instagram stories in a very consistent way. And is that a bad strategy? Maybe, but for me that’s priorities. I don’t want to have my phone all day when I’m with my kids. I don’t want to be like, “oh, this cute thing my kid’s doing, let me record it really fast.” Or if I don’t record the fact that I’m recording a podcast right now, then it doesn’t count. 

That was a choice that I made, and I probably would get more engagement and potentially more connections and sales if I showed up on Instagram stories more, but that’s a lifestyle choice of a sacrifice I’m personally not willing to make. So my Instagram stories are a little bit more calculated. Some are pre-recorded videos, or I have to schedule the time that I sit down and post that video because my social media manager tasks it to me, that’s how I’m choosing to show up. It may not be the best strategy, but I will say that if you have the time, or you feel called, or you feel like that is in alignment with you, Instagram stories are great because I do think people like to see that behind the scenes. They like to really get to see that raw, authentic content that Instagram stories does create. When I actually do go on Instagram or Facebook, I tend to just want to look at the stories because they’re the most interesting. They’re the least calculated type of content and I get to see the behind the scenes of people’s lives. So if there was any place I’d put your effort into Instagram stories because you can create that really raw, authentic content.

The last thing I want to talk about is tying in your paid ads with your organic. I am a big fan of taking about 5% of your monthly ad budget and spending it on brand awareness and visibility. What that means is twofold. One, I would choose one core form of content. For us, it’s our podcast, and I just did a podcast about promoting your podcast so go back and listen to that. I think it was episode 292. Go back and listen to that if you want, if you have a podcast and you want to get those strategies, but I like taking one form of content, podcast, video blog, and putting ad spend behind that. I also like taking a small amount of budget and promoting really quality posts just to get engagement, just to get people liking, commenting, sharing, engaging with your pages. Those are warm audiences you can re-target that will not be messed up by iOS because it’s happening on Facebook.

Sometimes we work really hard and create a really quality post. We’ve had posts that exploded organically, and just had really our best post ever and it was something I wrote off the cuff. Usually that is our best posts are things that I just like go on a rant on and right off the cuff, but what we’ve done is put ad spend behind those because if they did so well on a small level organically, why not pay to get new people to see them, to get new people in my ecosphere and paying attention to my brand? I like taking 5-10% max of your monthly ad budget and putting it towards brand awareness and visibility, which can be specific content such as your podcast or specifically recorded videos. It also can be taking, let’s say $20 a week and promoting one quality post that you saw did well. Maybe it’s your top posts that week that you posted organically. You put some spend behind it and then you’re able to get more leverage. 

I know on Facebook you can do that in the ads manager, but on Instagram to promote an actual Instagram post, you still have to go on the app and do it. So it’s like a side note, because you can’t pull in Instagram posts into your Facebook ads manager to promote, it will be like a new post. So if you want it to be the one that’s on your feed, you have to do it within the app. Our team does that, but that’s how I would tie together your organic and paid ad strategies is putting that small amount of ad spend back towards that, and then of course keeping that consistency because when you run paid ads, more people are going to be checking out your profile, following you, liking your page. Having that consistency so they can go binge your stories or your posts when they see something they loved, an ad that they loved, that’s extremely valuable. 

So that’s my advice on organic and paid ad strategies. I hope you guys found that helpful and can navigate how to add that into your strategy if you’re not doing it, or you know what’s too much, what’s too little. I really think focused effort organically is very important while balancing consistency and value are my key things for you to take away. You want to be consistent. You want everything to be valuable, but you also want to be focused and not trying to be everywhere all the time. I will encourage you, like I said to my team, I’m not doing Instagram stories this year. I’m just not. I’m not going on Clubhouse. I’m making those decisions. We might be missing out on opportunities, but I feel we’re going to make those opportunities up elsewhere by me having more brain space and being more present in my life. 

With organic social media too, you have to make those decisions because you can easily go down the rabbit hole where you’re like, I need to be everywhere all the time and you spend all this time, especially if you don’t have a marketing team, you spend all this time trying to be present on social media that could be going elsewhere too. You need to also have boundaries around it, for sure. Just because you are the face of your brand, or you are an influencer, or you are creating your own content doesn’t mean you have to always be on social media.

I’m trying to be that leading force with that because sometimes man, I see people on Instagram stories that it feels like they’re just on it all day long and they have kids, and to me, and this is an opinion and no shade to those people, but I want more freedom than that. I don’t want to be chained to the fact that I have to show up online or it didn’t happen in my life. I mean, I just went to California and I didn’t even post about it until the end of the trip of two weeks. You guys on the podcast knew I was there because I was recording podcasts while I was there, but I didn’t feel like I needed to be like, “and now we’re in California ,and now we’re doing this, and here’s my kids.” 

I was just present with my kids. I stopped working every day at three. I did a bunch of fun stuff, and at the end of the trip, I downloaded social media and did one post. So knowing what your boundaries are personally is something to also think about. Especially if you’re the face of your brand, because you might have to make some decisions there and you might have to say hey, I’m willing to miss out on these opportunities because this is a value of mine. All right everybody. Thanks so much for tuning in. I’ll talk to you next time.