Organic vs. Paid Follower Building

Posted by Taylor Munson on Oct 21, 2021 7:57:00 AM

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This post was originally shared February 2018 but has since been updated.

Growing your audience on social media can be an uphill battle. Between ever-changing algorithms and an intense amount of competition, it feels nearly impossible to reach your target audience. 

So where should you be spending your time - on organic social media content and engagement or paid social media advertising? 

Of course, the answer is both. You should be incorporating both organic AND paid social media efforts into your overall marketing strategy. You can't have one without the other and expect incredible results.

In this blog, we want to dive into some strategies that you can implement for both organic and paid social media efforts.

Organic VS. Paid

Unfortunately, spending money on social media advertising isn’t a choice anymore. 

Over the years, organic reach for business social media pages has continued to decline. With more social media users than ever and millions of posts being published every day, it’s proven difficult for businesses to reach even a small percentage of their followers. Any business interested in using social media to increase awareness, engage with customers, and generate revenue, has to be willing to “pay to play” and invest in those efforts to gain traction. 

Though, this certainly doesn’t mean you should ignore your organic efforts.

Organic follower building is about patience and steady nurturing. Your focus should be drawing people in through valuable, helpful, and insightful content. By working educational posts about your product or industry into your monthly social media content calendar, you can slowly build a community around your brand and cultivate relationships with people at all stages of the buyer’s journey. 

To help you build your social media audience, we put together strategies to incorporate for both organic and paid efforts. We will cover Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Organic Follower Building

  1. Create engaging content. Facebook’s algorithm ranks content based on the likelihood a user will engage with it. Your content should be interesting, valuable, and presented in an engaging way. Incorporate visuals into your posts such as photos, videos, or infographics.  
  2. Be active. Beyond posting regularly, you should also be spending time engaging with other content and conversations that relate to your business. Utilize Facebook’s “business news feed” to engage with other people and businesses. Contribute to the conversation by commenting, reacting, or sharing. This is a great way for people to find you naturally.
  3. Learn about your audience. The more relevant your content is to your audience, the more likely they are to engage with it. Dig into your analytics to see what types of content people like best, when your fans are most active online, and any other insightful trends. Use this information to adjust your strategy. Facebook offers its own analytics you can dive into, or you can invest in a social media tool that can help you learn more about your audience.

Paid Follower Building

  1. Run an audience-building campaign. There are multiple types of ads to choose from on Facebook depending on your goals. Try running a “page likes” campaign to help build your audience. Remember to make your ad engaging, otherwise, you won’t entice people to like your page and consume more of your content. You should also try boosting one of your top-performing organic posts to help build your audience.
  2. Utilize targeting options. Facebook ads have many different targeting options. This means you get to choose exactly who you want to target in your advertisements. You can target by location, age, gender, interests, behavior, and more.  Utilize these options to hone in the exact audience you want to target with your ads.


Organic Follower Building

  1. Create visually engaging content. While Instagram is now much more than a photo-sharing platform, its primary focus is still on visual content. Ensure your posts incorporate an attention-grabbing visual. Go beyond in-feed posts and use Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, and Instagram Videos as other ways to share content and grow your audience.  
  2. Choose the right hashtags. Spend time conducting hashtag research on Instagram or another social listening tool. Explore hashtags related to your business, target audience and industry. Be sure to incorporate both broad and specific hashtags. By finding the right hashtags, new followers are able to find you and engage with your content. 
  3. Encourage and invite engagement. There are so many ways for people to engage with your business on Instagram. Ask people to tag a friend in the comments, encourage user-generated content, or do a poll in your stories. These are all easy ways for people to engage and will help you build a community around your brand.

Paid Follower Building

  1. Focus on engagement. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, their advertising platforms are very similar. However, it’s best to primarily use Instagram ads for increasing engagement and followers. People on Instagram generally want to stay engaged with the visual experience of the app, instead of being taken to an external site. Consider boosting some of your top-performing organic content to reach a wider audience.

For more Instagram tips, check out our blog on how to use Instagram for business.


Organic Follower Building

  1. Tweet more. There are more than 500 million tweets sent every day. In order to stay relevant and increase engagement on Twitter, you have to post much more frequently to keep up with the constant stream of tweets. Consider how you could be posting more and remember Twitter is about breaking news and real-time conversations, so keep your tweets short, engaging, and valuable. Be careful not to spam people, either, because that will drive followers away. 
  2. Optimize hashtags. Research hashtags your target audience is interacting with. You can also create your own branded hashtag and encourage people to share their own content about your brand using that hashtag. Twitter has a 280 character limit, so be sure to use your hashtags wisely! 
  3. Consider trending topics. Explore the trending topics section of Twitter to better gauge what people are talking about to help guide your content. Trending topics can change quickly, so this is something to stay on top of. Also, be sure you’re only entering conversations and topics where your input is relevant.

Paid Follower Building

  1. Run an audience-building ad. On Twitter, you are able to promote your entire Twitter account, encouraging them to follow you. In this ad, your account will show up under the “who to follow” section on Twitter. Twitter’s advertising platform is continuing to grow and see more success, so don’t rule out this platform for your paid social media strategy.



  1. Build a professional community. LinkedIn is the perfect place for businesses to build a professional community around their brand. Through thought leadership, articles, events, company updates, live streams, and more, you can draw in a diverse audience of stakeholders, industry experts, and potential leads. 
  2. Lean into your employees. Employees are one of your biggest assets for organic growth on LinkedIn. Encourage your employees to follow your page and engage with your content. This increased engagement will help your content reach more people. 


  1. Utilize LinkedIn’s robust audience targeting. LinkedIn has some of the most sophisticated targeting options, allowing you to create a quality audience. Target specific job titles, company name, industry, professional interests, and more. Be sure to consider your buyer personas and any other information you have about your target audience. 
  2. Try a new ad format. LinkedIn has a few options for advertising formats, such as sponsored content, video ads, message ads, and dynamic ads. Consider trying out a new ad format you haven’t done before to test out alternative ways of building your audience and generating leads. 

LinkedIn also released a guide called “The Perfect Blend: Organic & Paid” that delves into the best ways to incorporate both organic and paid strategies into your overall LinkedIn strategy. 

While each platform is unique, many of these strategies can be used across multiple platforms. There is no cookie-cutter way of building an audience on social media, so don’t let yourself get too frustrated if you’re not seeing the success you’d like. With trends and algorithms changing all the time, stay dynamic and don’t be afraid to experiment. Also, analytics are your friend. Each platform will tell you what’s working and what’s not, so learn from these business insights as you continue improving your overall strategy. 

Need help with your organic and paid social media strategy?  Sign up for our Tuesday Tips to get web marketing tips delivered right to your inbox! 

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Taylor Munson

Written by Taylor Munson

Taylor is Tribute Media's social media specialist. When she's not hanging out in nature or socialing the medias, you might find her indulging reality shows or re-watching Parks and Recreation.