Why Organic Social Isn’t Dead!

The social landscape has changed irrevocably, can your brand keep up without solely paying for engagement?

You may have heard on countless occasions that social media is now purely an advertising channel for brands, and that, without significant spend behind each post, there’s no way your content will reach your target demographic, or at least at the volume you’d like it to. This is not strictly true, and during this article we will explain the virtues of good quality creative, strategy and copy when creating your campaigns, whether supported by advertising spend or not!

1. Be your own voice!

On Valentine’s Day 2016, Adidas showed just how to make a post go viral organically. Adidas posted this (above) image on Instagram, with the tag line: ‘The love you take is equal to the love you make’. Unfortunately, there were plenty of negative homophobic responses, which Adidas decided to reply to in a sassy manner, emojis and all! This post generated a lot of positive publicity, with Adidas gaining praise from all angles.

So how did this post garner so much attention?

Firstly, to fully understand the context, we need to highlight that Adidas has a well-run account. They post in accordance with algorithm, have great community management, an enviable influencer program, and consistently grow fans and engagement.

Secondly, Adidas is a ginormous, global phenomenon of a brand.

Thirdly, this post appeared right when their wildly successful ‘I’m Here to Create’ campaign launched. This campaign had serious spend attached to it, serving influencer content, in a series of 15 second clips of rock-solid social influencers such as Karlie Kloss and Hannah Bronfman, to thousands, maybe millions, of users. So, when this post went live, the handle had a lot of buzz around it.

Fourthly, it was posted on Valentine’s Day. See ‘Jump on that (appropriate) bandwagon’ for more information on this.

And finally, the community management aspect, detailed in picture 2 (below), obtained some serious media attention, driving a significant amount of people to the post from off-handle.

What can other brands take from Adidas’ success?

BE BRAVE! It’s easy to be so ‘safe’ on social media that you do not attract half the engagement you should. If you have something that you want to say, that is relevant, inoffensive and important, then say it! You may get the odd person refusing to use your brand, but is this the worst thing in the world? Isn’t openly showing the ethics of your brand more valuable than the money from a couple of followers who do not show affinity to your values? To show integrity, humanity and purpose is incredibly important on social media; be careful with semantics, make sure not to offend, risk assess, and get posting!

Plan your organic posting with the same attention to detail as you would your paid content. Ensure that organic posting is most engaging when your handle is at its most visible, during times of spend. Play up to the content you have put money behind, and ensure everything has a coherent theme. Makes sense, right?

2. Jump on that (appropriate) bandwagon

Now, imagine it’s 20th October 2015, you are Nintendo, and out of the corner of your eye you notice that #DrakeAlwaysOnBeat is trending on Twitter. The video for his new song ‘Hotline Bling’ has just hit, and video-edited parodies are pouring into the internet thick and fast. Nintendo is a fun brand, marketing products towards a target demographic that will most probably have more brand recognition for Drake than Michael Jackson. There’s space here to design some creative, interesting, relevant and shareable social content.

So, what do you create? That’s right! You put a tennis racket in his hand and transform the end scene into a Wii tournament. Well, Nintendo didn’t quite do this; the superstar Vine personality Caleb Natale did. But, never mind, the ethos still stands, and with over 25 million loops, I bet Nintendo wish they posted it!

What do we mean by (appropriate)?

Jumping onto a trending hashtag is what’s delightfully called ‘TrendJacking’ in the social industry, and comes with a lengthy list of prerequisites. Numero uno: make sure you’ve read into what the trend is about. Do not make the mistake that DiGiorno Pizza did, and jump onto a trend about domestic violence with corporate messaging. Literally no one likes that.

Do, however, think critically. Will my brand’s target demographic understand this? Is there a logical pathway from this issue back to my brand? Is there a chance of really offending anyone with this? Will this post promote enough engagement that users will share it?

‘TrendJacking’ is a really good way to make your content more visible organically – just make sure you do it right!

3. Paid social should be accompanied by organic social

Your paid content should be surrounded by great organic content. If not, you’re missing out on the increased amount of engagement (especially on Instagram or Twitter) which is what you’re paying for in the first place!

As explained in the first paragraph, there is a certain amount of truth in the fact that social media is now a commercial platform, and advertising spend will have to be placed to achieve success. If this wasn’t essential then the big boys such as Buzzfeed, Apple, Adidas and Nike wouldn’t be spending money on promoting their brands this way. That doesn’t mean, however, that organic social is dead – quite the contrary, it means it’s a more alive, important and valuable commodity than ever!