How Paid and Organic Facebook Efforts Support Each Other

Opinion: If you know how to wield this data, you can turn it into a truly powerful growth factor

It already has all those likes, shares and comments, so it must be good filo/iStock

Facebook can be a strong source of insight into many of your followers’ behaviors and descriptions. From demographic data, geographic targeting, interests, likes, etc., you can learn quite a bit about your ideal user through the social network.

And on top of that, Facebook can be a great channel for you to promote your products and content straight to your audience.

Combine your Facebook brand page and your Ads Manager for big wins.

But where do organic Facebook efforts fade off and paid social campaigns come into play? Well, it turns out that these different ways of using the social platform often support one another.

Depending on how you leverage each, your paid Facebook efforts can inform your organic, and your organic strategies can enhance your paid campaigns. So, let’s see exactly what I’m talking about.

Word of caution: Facebook is primarily ‘pay to play’

These days, Facebook’s News Feed is constantly flooded with different branded publications and content promotions. But, for the good of the platform, Facebook wants to keep its users happy and engaged. The more their user experience is dragged down by irrelevant, sales-pitchy posts, the worse it is for Facebook.

Facebook wants to ensure that its users are only shown highly relevant content. So, to tighten up, it is limiting the reach of irrelevant organic posts.

Facebook’s increased revenue from paid advertising may be the cause.

This means that paid advertising on Facebook is probably a must for your campaigns and general promotion efforts. This further means that you’ll want to start mastering your Facebook Ads Manager. But this doesn’t mean that organic and paid Facebook efforts can’t still work together for ultimate success.

Distinguishing paid from organic engagement

It’s important that you’re able to distinguish between Facebook engagement from paid versus organic campaigns. As is the case with all tracking, the more granular you are, the more successful you’ll be. And Facebook is no different, so long as you don’t start layering before you truly know your audience.

It’s key that you don’t accidentally skew your attribution.

You can create rules to change attribution settings in Ads Manager.

You don’t want your paid advertising wins to be attributed to your Facebook community’s organic growth.

For instance, if you were to see a spike in likes and followers (and not differentiate), you may attribute that to a significant growth in your organic brand awareness. Or, because you’re essentially flipping a coin here, you may attribute it to your paid Facebook campaigns (if you’re running a campaign focused on driving likes and followers).

These two options may result in some very different strategies:

  • If attributed to organic growth, you proceed this way: more brand awareness, intensify calls to action (deeper in funnel), more conversions deeper in the funnel, more active leads, more sales, increased revenue.
  • If attributed to paid growth, you proceed this way: successful paid campaign, raise advertising budget in Ads Manager, increased paid likes, not necessarily any higher-level leads, more cold leads, not necessarily more sales, increased spend will not increase revenue.

You’ll need a mix of different engagement metrics to improve any Facebook campaign. But each will look different depending on whether they come from organic or paid campaigns.

If you segment your tracking by paid versus organic in Facebook, you may see something like this.

View metrics individually to see whether organic or paid is growing more.

As you can see, the metrics differ when you distinguish between paid and organic. Keep this in mind when you’re analyzing your reports. It may help identify correlations between your paid and organic efforts.

Now let’s dive into some of the ways organic Facebook helps paid Facebook, and vice versa.

Get a more complete picture of your audience

The reason you want to look at both organic and paid data is that you get a more complete picture of who your target audience is. Those who engage with your brand organically may also engage with paid ads, or vice versa. Sure, the audiences may behave or look a little different on a few data points, but it’s good to have varying data to drive tests that you might not have considered based on just looking at insights from one channel.

Before you spend money on paid ads and dive into dimensions, consider some other avenues that don’t cost money. For instance, you can learn a great deal about your audience just from posting your articles on Facebook to see how users engage.

You have a direct line to your fans and followers in Facebook to see what content they like and why. So, why not ask for a bit more detail into what they like? Skip the assumptions and go right to the source. You might be surprised how willing people are to give their input if you’re looking to serve them better.

If you really want to dive into your Facebook engagement, you can also track your see first followers. See first followers are Facebook users who have selected to be shown your content in their News Feeds before other posts.

Regardless of whether they’re see first or ordinary followers, encouraging more commentary and feedback in your organic posts can provide helpful data. You can try this out by:

  • Adjusting headlines to encourage comments.
  • Continuing the conversations in comments.
  • Publishing quizzes asking what new types of content they’d like to see.
  • Publishing surveys for more targeted feedback on a topic you’re focusing on.
  • Offering incentives to encourage users to follow through with feedback.

All of the data you collect from interacting with your followers on your own is free-of-charge. So, don’t neglect the actual social element of social media platforms like Facebook.

Getting feedback from actual users’ mouths (or fingers) will help inform what content you make in the future.

With Facebook Audience Insights, you can see some valuable insights into what makes your campaigns work or flop.

Audience Insights can let you dive into the details of your users in each audience you build.

Going through Facebook Ads Manager does provide the most granular data about your audience, but again, before you spend any money, don’t forget about the organic Audience Insights you can get by clicking on the Insights tab on your Facebook page.

Image from KlientBoost.

While organic feedback like comments and community growth can help you tailor your brand and content, data received from paid campaigns can help you fine-tune your delivery of both organic and paid content.

This is why properly tracking your paid Facebook campaigns is so vitally important. Whether you hit your goal (win) or fall short (loss), there’s still valuable data to be collected.

When it comes to paid social advertising and promotion, A/B testing is still very much a thing.

Facebook’s own visual definition of “split testing.”

Paid campaigns offer you the granular tracking and setup that organic metrics can’t. You can learn a lot from your likes and shares. But what you really want to know is what leads to better reach, click-through rates, ad spend, return on investment, etc.

For example, if you run a paid promotion campaign for a piece of content and see great success (high CTR, ROI, downloads, etc.), you can build a lookalike audience off of the audience that engaged with said campaign.

And if you know how to really learn from a lookalike audience, you can create content that caters to their interests.

Lookalike audiences are a great way to increase reach to already highly relevant users.

The same goes for Facebook ads you run that aren’t aimed at promoting content. Any engagement you drive through Facebook will give you insights into the details of actual consumers—their interests, ages, locations, affiliations and more.

Combining your paid and organic data will give you access to valuable insights into your consumer behavior. This, in turn, should inform your content creation and how you promote it moving forward.

Facebook dark post promotion

The late, great P.T. Barnum said it best: “Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd.”

And he knew what he was doing. After all, it takes a certain level of success to have Hugh Jackman making movies of you.

Barnum’s quote is perhaps even more true today than it was back in his day. Social proof remains one of the strongest ways to solidify the quality of any brand, strategy or publication.

This logic goes deeper than user psychology. The more successful any publication looks, the more the platform will reward you, as well. You can see this with:

  • Google boosting the ranking of highly engaged posts.
  • Improving Yoast search-engine-optimization scores with five-star reviews.
  • Facebook boosting the reach of highly engaged posts.

That last one caught your eye, didn’t it? Yes, it’s true that Facebook will boost the reach of posts with strong engagement, because it sees them as highly relevant to its user base.

To get the most bang for your buck, it’s important to put money behind your strongest performers or those with a greater likelihood to convert. This is where dark posting comes in handy.

You may want to pay to promote your recent publication to maximize its reach to highly targeted audiences. But this isn’t the only way to improve its engagement. In fact, you may be throwing money away if you’re promoting a weak looking piece to start with. So, beef that piece up with some strong looking engagement before you pay to play.

Which would you be more likely to click (based on the social proof)?

Old Barnum would say, just on the initial impression of the two images above, that most users would be more interested in the second. Why? Because it already has all those likes, shares and comments—so it must be good.

If you were to put paid Facebook promotion efforts behind both of these posts, the first would burn through quite a bit of cash just to catch up to the second before it started growing. So, why not just pay to promote the second?

Dark posting is akin to organically boosting the engagement metrics for your posts before you pay to promote them. Also, if you have an ad that’s running across multiple campaigns, you can accumulate the likes, comments, etc. from each individual by using the same ID in all campaigns.

Essentially, dark posting increases the relevance of your publication ad in Facebook’s eyes, which will lower your cost. Not only that, it should hopefully cut down the growth curve, so you’ll see results sooner.

Now when you put paid push behind these posts (like above), they’ll really soar.

As I said earlier, pay to promote your best performers. In this case, you can use your organic Facebook efforts to “make” your best performers.

Paid ad wins increase organic reach

Facebook also allows for a somewhat “inverse” effect of dark posting. Basically, if your ad campaign starts to perform and accumulate wins, Facebook will increase the reach of that given ad campaign without raising the cost.

The posts with higher engagement (far right) often have wider reach with same spend.

Why does this matter to organic? Because increased audiences mean potentially larger lookalike audiences. And, as I mentioned above: if you know how to learn from a lookalike audience, the bigger the better.

Remember: The “wins” that you have to acquire for this to happen would be page followers, specifically. So, the more fans/followers you get from a single paid ad, the more Facebook will increase the reach of that ad without raising your spend.

Facebook likes to reward content its users like. So, the more they like you, the more Facebook likes you. Always keep that in mind.

Remarketing Facebook ads

Facebook can also be a great channel to aid your content marketing beyond just social media. This is where remarketing ad campaigns can really strut their stuff.

You may have a decent amount of traffic flowing through your blog, but you aren’t quite seeing the traffic travel to where you want it within your domain.

Maybe users are spending too much time reading your awesome blog posts and too little time checking out your product pages.

Maybe you’re just that good at writing content.

You can use Facebook to remarket to your audience by leveraging your organic content. Here’s how:

  • Identify which articles on your blog are already being frequently read.
  • Tailor remarketing campaign to those specific content preferences.
  • Promote your top-performing posts with the “Use Existing Post” option.
  • Leverage high social proof to generate strong engagement with the posts.
  • Have the link drive back to the actual product page, as opposed to the blog.

This way, you can promote super relevant content straight to remarketing audiences and get them back to your domain on pages where they can convert. And that’s what we’re after here, after all: conversions and cash.

Conclusion: knowledge and access

Facebook’s (and many other social platforms’) greatest asset is that it’s a wealth spring of user information. You can see what users look like, when they’re most active, devices, their personal info. such as demographic and geographic—there’s almost too much data to process. But, if you know how to wield this data, you can turn it into a truly powerful growth factor.

Facebook wants to engage users in its News Feed. So, it rewards those who engage their users in the most effective ways. It backs winning horses, so to speak. And it’s about time you start using both organic and paid Facebook strategies to train your stallion.

Johnathan Dane is the founder of KlientBoost, a pay-per-click agency focusing on conversion rate optimization and aggressive testing.