Is Organic Social Media Marketing a Dead End?

Not necessarily, says AVB’s resident expert

By Grace Kuhn, AVB Marketing 

The year 2007 ushered in a new age of marketing that no one knew how to navigate: It was the year Facebook allowed businesses to create pages on their platform.

If you were one of the businesses that joined the social media movement early on, your page experienced incredible organic reach. The result was increased brand awareness, revenue and brand affinity on a shoestring budget. Ah, the glory days of free social media marketing. 

By 2012, however, Facebook announced their business pages would only organically reach up to 16% of their followers. Since then, organic reach has gradually declined across most social media channels, where it is now primarily a “pay to play” model. This shift has left many small businesses wondering if investing in organic social media marketing is still worth it. The short answer is yes. Organic social media marketing is not dead. But it has changed — a lot. So, let’s discuss how you can implement an integrated strategy for maximum impact. 

What is Organic Reach?

It’s important to note that “organic” social media is distinct from “paid” social media. “Organic reach” is the number of people you can reach for free by simply posting to your company’s social media. “Paid reach” is when you pay for ads to reach a targeted group of users on a social platform. 

How Did We Get Here?

One reason for the decline in organic reach is the sheer volume of content posted across social channels. Since more businesses jumped on the social media bandwagon and new social platforms started vying for consumer attention, the competition to reach customers has become more intense. This means even the most well-crafted organic posts can get lost in the noise.

Another factor is the ever-changing algorithms social media platforms use to determine what content appears in users’ feeds. Even people who show interest in your content by “following” you may not see it if the algorithm doesn’t deem it relevant or engaging enough.

What Results Should I Expect? 

Currently, average organic reach (the amount of people that will see your post without paying for it) on Facebook and Instagram is less than 5% and 9%, respectively. The average engagement rate (i.e., when people react to, comment on or share your post) is less than 1% for both. This holds true for large and small brands alike.

While reach insights for other companies’ social channels is private data, we can easily calculate engagement with the public data available. I examined the 10 most recent Facebook and Instagram posts from a substantial appliance vendor and calculated their engagement rates. Ready for this? The average engagement rate on Facebook was 0.06%, and the average for their Instagram account was 0.28%. With results like these, why on earth do brands keep investing in organic social media? Because they know that behind every successful paid social media strategy is a consistent organic social media presence that strengthens consumer trust.

What Should My Strategy Be?

The days of investing only in the organic side of social media are long gone due to algorithms and oversaturation. However, investing in only the paid side of social media is not the solution either — not if you want to see sustainable success. Why? Because consumers still use social media for product and brand research.  

According to a survey by video creation site Animoto58% of consumers visit your social media profiles before they visit your website. Here’s what they’re asking themselves when they visit your channels: 

  1. Can I trust you? 

Unfortunately, scams are everywhere, and not all social ads can be trusted. But consistent organic social media activity elevates their trust. 

2. Do I want to buy from you? 

Consumers have many businesses to choose from, so they’ll be picky about who they do business with. They’re looking at how you speak to your customers.  

3. Do you have what I want? 

They’re checking your recent activity to see if you have other products or deals they might be interested in. 

In most cases, combining organic and paid social media will produce better results than doing one or the other because they work together toward the same goal to get more followers. This exposure, of course, is simply a means to the primary objective of all your marketing — more sales. 

An integrated social media strategy should use paid advertisements to capture the attention of new customers while using organic content to build credibility and retain existing customers.

Are There Other Benefits?

Yes! In addition to helping you build out a more meaningful paid social strategy, here are five other benefits of investing in organic social media marketing: 

  1. Improved Search Rankings

Did you know that Google indexes your social profiles? That means the more active social profiles you have, the more real estate you take on Google’s search engine results.

  • Increased Website Traffic

We’ve seen as much as a 282% increase in BrandSource member website traffic coming from social media after AVB began to manage social content distribution. 

  • Greater Customer Loyalty

If you respond to customer inquiries, comments and concerns, customers are more likely to give you repeat business.

  • More Sales

We’ve seen as much as a 312% increase in conversions coming from social media after AVB began to manage social content distribution for members. 

  • Better Competitive Advantage

By posting engaging content, responding to customer inquiries promptly and building a community of loyal followers, businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors and attract more customers. 

So, is organic social media marketing a dead end? Not at all. Though organic reach and engagement have declined over the past 15 years, it still has verified value — especially when combined with a paid social strategy.

Free 30-Day Trial 

That said, you still need to know what you’re doing, or hire someone who does. 

If you don’t have the resources to worry about consistent posting, AVB is offering a free 30-day trial for our affordable social media marketing program. This is your chance to get the benefits of organic social media without the time-consuming process of creating content.

So sign up for a free trial today. It’s risk-free and easy to start.

Grace Kuhn is demand generation manager at AVB Marketing, the advertising, e-commerce and digital marketing arm of YSN publisher AVB BrandSource, the nation’s largest merchandising and marketing co-op for independent home goods dealers. Contact Grace at

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