Traditional (organic) social media activity falls under what is know as Permission Marketing and is dependent on great content that people genuinely like and your brand earns its way into the hearts and minds of your audience.
Paid social falls under Interruption Marketing and is much closer to traditional advertising where you are interrupting someone to give them your marketing message.
The future for most brands include a mixture of both and it is important to be aware that the strategy for organic needs to be different to that of paid. You need to define the content that you will have for each as organic content may not be at all suitable for paid posts and I think it is definitely true the other way around!
It is generally believed that paid social still needs an element of the softer permission based tone – although I have seen a lot of paid content recently which A - I am not in the least interested in and B. just lets me know the brand/person is running a promotion. I am sure this will become more sophisticated as time goes on.
You could also say that it is a case of quality versus speed. Paid social needs media buying skills to some degree and your timing could be as important as the message. Social media specialists are busy honing their skills and many are likely to specialise in either paid or organic to be true experts. However, it will be vital that all social media activity is strategically planned together – you could just imagine someone running a quality assurance campaign whilst elsewhere there is a 25% discount being offered which might be confusing and would reduce the brand impact.
With Facebook making it harder and harder to distribute your unpaid content and global brands with large budgets causing costs for paid social to rise, I am not sure what will become of this platform? Brands have built up their valuable audience so I guess they will have to keep paying but what do we as consumers and clients value these platforms for? Are we really going to spend hours every week consuming something quite close to just being advertising? I'd love to know your views on this!
Now could be a great time to start experimenting with paid social media so that you have some experience of what might work for your brand. As the platforms start to evolve their products, you will be in a better position to capitalise on opportunities. If any of the above sparks questions, don't hesitate to get in touch!