It would be easy to to look at organic social media in 2018 and think its days are numbered.
After all, it’s been on the decline for some time, and Facebook’s swashbuckling start to 2018 is hardly cause for optimism.
The easy option would be to write off organic and focus on paid; cut your losses and whip the credit card out.
But, I’m still a firm believer in the power of good organic social media in 2018. That might just be naïve optimism, it might just be wishful thinking or it might just be because I’ve never previously worked for an organisation that actually spent money on social media.
Whatever, I still think there’s a point to organic social media in 2018, and I want you to as well.
A clear purpose
I was discussing all things organic social media with a colleague earlier this week and he perfectly articulated the point of it in 2018, in a way I’ve not been able to get out of my head since.
He simply put it as…
Organic = advocacy
Paid = reach and impressions
And, actually, I reckon it’s pretty exciting too – the opportunity to turn your audience into raving fans who will champion what you do.
If you’re approaching your organic social media with advocacy in mind, you’ll be forced to think a lot deeper. You’ll need content that your audience wants to see and that they will interact with. It needs to add value.
Not only that, you’ll need to think longer term. Advocacy isn’t built in a few weeks; it takes time. The brands and organisations that succeed with their organic social media in the next couple of years will have to be brilliant at what they do consistently, and that can only be a good thing.
A clear understanding of your audience
For organic content to have cut-through in 2018, it needs to resonate with your audience. It needs to get a reaction, it needs them to get involved.
That means you, as marketers, need to get to know your audiences better than you ever have before. What makes them tick? Where are they happy to see you? What turns them off? What content can you create they will resonate with them?
Once again, this has to be a good thing. Why would it not be in your interests to know your audiences better and be able to give them the sort of content they’re looking for?
A chance to humanise your brand
The decline of organic reach for brands and publishers in 2018 runs in parallel with even more power being given to the people. A focus on individuals is certainly at the core of Facebook’s updates, and we’ve already seen spaces like Snapchat give more attention to people than brands.
That could set the stock of influencers at possibly its highest level and further up the cost of working with such people. But it should also get you thinking about how you can use this shift to put faces to your name.
That means making more use of user-generated content. That also means reaching out to your community and getting champions and ambassadors on board to work with you. Let them take over your channels, let them create content on your spaces and encourage them to talk about you and share your content on their own profiles.
Use it as a chance to build and create your own influencers from your existing audience.
A chance to flex your creative muscles
Lastly, as we’ve already seen, if organic content is going to take off in 2018 then it needs to be killer. It needs to be your greatest hits collection. It needs to be the point at which you up your game.
The beauty here is that the brands and organisation doing the best and most creative work will get the most traction and the biggest rewards, while those who don’t put the effort in will fall away.
I’ve long been an advocate of approaching social media with a mindset of ‘fewer posts but better quality’ and this is exactly how you should look to tackle organic in 2018. Make it brilliant. Don’t just add to the noise, make such good content that your profiles are the conversation starters.
Don’t forget paid
Of course, all this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t bother with paid social media in 2018.
Let’s be realistic; you need to budget for the paid side of things. But be savvy with where you splash the cash. Focus on how it can help you drive measurable goals and outcomes, give it some purpose and use it in conjunction with a brilliant organic strategy to cover all bases.
Yes, the future for organic social media could easily look bleak. But don’t be blindsided by all the doom-filed headlines. There are still plenty of opportunities to great things with your organic content…you just need to take them.