Recently, our social media marketing team asked me to take a look at some of the metrics being generated through our client efforts around organic social media campaigns. What I found was a bit astounding. The value we are creating for clients is fairly profound.

Organic Social Media vs. Paid Social Media

First, let me explain what I mean by “organic” social media. As an agency, we create “ads” for our clients and purchase placement for those ads on various platforms. In the social space, those would include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others. We’ll call these purchased placements “paid” social media placements.

For several of our clients, we also actually create interesting posts, mini-stories if you will, or “organic” social media posts, about their products or services. Think of that Facebook post you just put out there the other day with a very cute picture of your grandkids covered in chocolate cake at your daughter’s recent birthday party. We create similar engaging “moments” about our clients. OK, they may not be as cute as your grandkids, but we’ve got some pretty cool clients.

It is when I began looking at the measurable results of these organic postings that I saw some real magic.

Discovering the value is organic social media marketing via social media metrics

Determining the Best Value for Your Advertising Dollars

Our goal for all the clients we work with is to take their available marketing dollars and stretch them as far as possible to achieve their goals. They’ve inevitably set a budget to spend against advertising and marketing with the goal of driving revenue, brand awareness or any number of other measures.

In order to do this, we use a combination of tools in order to deliver great creative messaging that tells our clients’ stories. These tools include TV, Radio, Print, Outdoor and perhaps most interesting, the Internet and all of its various forms. With each of these tools, we can measure how effective they are toward reaching our clients’ targets, using measures such as targeted impressions, reach, frequency, web clicks, engagements and others.

Finding Value in Social Engagement Metrics

What is interesting about the digital space is that not only can we count how many impressions we’ve purchased, but more importantly, we can measure how many interactions users have with that message. In other words, we can know how many times they clicked a link, liked or commented on a post, viewed a video and so forth. In the digital space, it is these “engagements” that are important, because these are the moments your target didn’t ignore the message but rather took a moment to actually pay attention and show some type of response.

Finding value in social media engagement via organic social media marketing.

All consumer ad impressions have costs associated with them. These are made up of the costs to create the messaging together with the cost to place the messages where they can be seen or heard through some form of media. As marketers, we can take the measured results of these placements and optimize our clients’ marketing mix among the various types of advertising to achieve the best mix of media types and placements, making the clients’ spending go as far as it can possibly go to achieve their goals.

Organic Social Campaigns are 4x as Cost Effective as Paid Social

What I found as I began analyzing the results of our organic social media campaigns ( the kids with the chocolate faces) is that the total client cost per consumer engagement was substantially lower than most of the other forms of media we utilize, including the “paid” form of social media placements. In many cases, it was lower by a substantial multiplier.

Stone Ward Infographic - Cost effectiveness of Organic Social Media Marketing vs Paid Social Media Marketing

For instance, the industry average media cost for a Facebook click or CPC (cost per click) is around $1.45. (By the way, be careful when you hear the words “industry average,” as these vary widely.)  I found that across our client base, our clients were seeing costs of around $0.37 per engagement for our organic social postings, including the cost of creation, which is not included in that $1.45 “industry average.” This means our “organic” postings are over 4 times more cost effective than paid postings across our client base.

As I’ve said, CPCs can vary widely by industry. For one client, posting in a more expensive “paid” posting category saw this organic posting “effectiveness” measure as high as 16 times more effective than the paid alternative.

Needless to say, this has caused us to stand up and take notice of the value of “organic” social postings and to suggest our clients utilize this very valuable mode of marketing communication.

Costs to Consider When Working with an Advertising Agency

While organic social media marketing is very cost efficient from the clients’ perspective, there are some necessary shifts in costs between the media outlets (Facebook, for instance) back toward the agency. It is important that clients understand these cost shifts and their reasons as they consider agency compensation.

There is essentially no media cost at all for an organic social post. However, the agency spends considerably more time generating as many as 100 unique pieces of content per month for a typical client than it would generating the collection of ads that a client might need for a typical “paid” advertising campaign. Each of these daily postings must be relevant to the target and creatively interesting in order to achieve the engagement levels we are after for the client.

A savvy client marketer will consider the total cost per engagement for all media types. They won’t focus so much on the distribution of those costs between the agency and the media outlet to determine the cost efficiency among the various media types. I believe when clients do this, they will find the organic social media postings created by an agency to be an excellent and valued resource in the marketing mix.

Why Organic Social Media Should be a Part of Your Marketing Mix

It’s often been said that too much of a good thing is, well, not so good. This is certainly true of organic social media campaigns. There are diminishing returns with any media type, including social, so a mix of media types is necessary for most clients. However, we are continuing to place more emphasis on social media for our clients where it makes sense to do so.

Social media has become much more than something you just do because everyone else seems to be doing it. Social media’s value, particularly the organic posting form, has matured as a media form to the point that it has taken its earned place right alongside the other traditional media types.

If you’d like some help with your marketing mix or to talk about how social media can help you achieve your goals, we’d love to have a conversation with you about that. You can contact me directly at