Why Paid Social Media Will Continue to Be Essential in 2017

Once we start receiving something for free it’s pretty annoying to have to start paying for it again. Imagine being told you have to pay full price for every album you listen to on Spotify after listening for free for years.

As consumers we always seem to find a way to get what we want for free (think: Napster). As marketers of our businesses though, we have to pay the price to succeed and it’s becoming increasingly hard to find the free workarounds.

We’ve gone from paying for billboards and tangible ads—to free social media—to being told we have to pay again.

Why do we have to pay? Facebook cut organic reach as a way to make a buck off of businesses using their platform for marketing. Facebook wants to make money just like the rest of us.

The honeymoon is over. Paid social media will continue to be essential in 2017, and we have non-existent organic reach to thank.

Couple Atoll Honeymoon Beach Destination Holiday
The honeymoon is over. It’s time to pay.

Organic Reach

Organic Reach is defined as the “total number of unique people who were shown your post through unpaid distribution.”

You’ve heard the warnings about the death of organic reach on Facebook, but how does it really affect the distribution of your content in 2017?


“The average organic reach for posts from Facebook pages in March was 2.6 percent of a brand’s audience. This percentage dropped to 2.3 percent for pages with more than 1 million likes.”  –1to1Media

Most mid-size companies won’t have 1 million likes on Facebook. This means if you’re relying only on organic reach (posting on Facebook without paying to promote), your reach (depending on your # of followers) is very like well below 1%, unless of course you have a million followers and are granted 2.3% organically.

What About Twitter?

In 2014, Twitter released a new dashboard for brands to measure insights on how their organic Tweets perform, namely paid Promoted Tweets, which target a specific audience.

Twitter found brands that tweet two to three times per day can typically reach an audience size that’s equal to 30% of their follower base during a given week. While Twitter is better than Facebook for organic reach, it’s only a matter of time before Twitter kills organic reach, especially with no growth its first quarter since it went public.

What About Instagram?

With Facebook’s purchase of Instagram marketers now have the option of promoting a post on Instagram simultaneously to creating a promoted post on Facebook. Alternatively, posts can be promoted and targeted at users directly through the Instagram application.

Proof in Numbers

Taking into account a known decreased reach, we can look at data from posts to prove that paid social is essential.

Look at these two Facebook posts created and posted for a client. I see it happen with so many of my social media clients: the clients who have a budget for paid promotion end up with the most engagement and even some leads.

The first example is from a client with 2,000 Facebook fans. I did not promote this post. You can see the reach is only 441 users.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 12.09.54 PM

It’s OK for a post like this to only have a reach of under 500. The objective is retention and overall engagement, not necessarily leads or conversions.

On the post below, I used paid promotion for the client. The post reach was far greater at nearly 7,000 people. Keep in mind depending on a company’s industry or market the total spend differs, and depending on the audience you’re hoping to reach spend amount can differ greatly, too.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 12.07.31 PM

As you can see, paying to promote your posts just as you’ve always paid for advertising is essential in 2017—not only to reach potential customers—but to reach more than a handful of potential customers.

Need some help navigating Facebook ads? Contact me today, I can help you reach potential customers.

This is a modified post from 2016 written by myself for Staffing Robot.