The Facebook Advertising Conundrum: Organic Posts or Paid Ads? Which is Right for You?

Updated: Sep 04, 2023 | Angel Manalad | 3 mins. read

Australia is connected. Twenty-one million Australians aged 14 or over are online every month. 49% of this time is spent on social networking platforms. Several social platforms are competing for this time, including TikTok, whose dramatic rise has dominated headlines and left the other platforms scrambling; YouTube, which flies under the radar as a social platform; and Facebook or the Meta platforms, with over 2 billion daily active users, including over 19 million Australians.

In modern digital marketing, Facebook and Instagram stand out as a force to be reckoned with. This social media marketing platform offers dealers and OEMS an unparalleled opportunity to engage with and convert their target audience to leads and sales.

Two of the most powerful tools in a social media strategy in the Facebook marketing arsenal are Organic Posting and Paid Ads.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits and trade-offs of these dynamic approaches and how they can be combined to create a harmonious social media presence that resonates with a broader audience of Australian consumers.

Organic Posting on Facebook

Organic Posts are the posts a dealer or OEM publish on their Facebook page or profile.

If you have been using Facebook regularly to post, you most likely have noticed declining reach (number of people who see your posts) over the past few years.  

The latest research suggests that the average reach is only between 3 and 5%, so if a brand had 10,000 followers, an average post would be seen by 550 people.

It's natural to wonder, are Facebook posts still relevant in 2023? 

The cost-effectiveness of organic posting is particularly appealing. Compared to Paid Ads, Organic Posting doesn’t require significant financial investments to reach and engage with the target audience. However, it does require an equally valuable resource: time. Effectively managing an organic social media presence demands consistent effort, thoughtful planning, and a keen eye for detail.

Facebook is looking for signs a business is posting good-quality content. If an account is posting low-quality content, it will throttle reach. On the other hand, if an account posts good quality content, it will increase its reach.

Comments and shares are 2 of the critical metrics it looks at. It also considers how long people spend engaged with your post – is the post a scroll stopper?

Organic Social Strategies

 Too Often, dealers and OEMs can fall into the trap of posting “for sale” type posts. In the eyes of the Facebook algorithm, this is generally low-quality content (i.e. gets low comments and shares). People generally are not on Facebook looking for a new car, bike, caravan, truck etc.

Accounts that get the best results vary their content in 2 ways – the type of content (in-stock, handovers, UGC or user-generated content, lifestyle or branded entertainment, new releases, sales events, humour, tips, etc.) and the format (video, static images etc.)

Different people consume media differently. Some users prefer video, some images, some longer form text etc., so a combination of content types helps increase the overall reach of the account.

Apart from the actual content, the time that the post goes live can have a significant impact on results. The life of a Facebook post is about 6 hours. The first 2 hours are key, so ensuring your content is posted at the right time to reach your audience is key.

User-Generated Content

Facebook is a social platform and it should come as no surprise that User-Generated Content (UCG) work particularly well.

UCG is perceived as authentic and genuine and can be more relatable than slick or highly produced ads. It is seen as more native to the platform and, as such, helps the audience connect with the content on a deeper level.

UGC also acts as a form of social proof as it shows real people using the product.

An extension of UCG in dealer land is the handover post. These posts showcasing delivery have proven highly effective in generating reach and engagement as the new owner is more likely to comment on and share the post – the key signal Facebook likes. They also act as an endorsement or recommendation and help seed your brand with your buyer’s social group and build the brand.

This type of organic content creates a sense of authenticity, building brand awareness and trust among potential and existing customers, ultimately driving engagement and conversion.

Quality Over Quantity

A common mistake that many businesses make with Facebook posts is believing that they need to be posting all the time. Quality, not quantity, is a far more important factor in the success of your posts. 3 or 4 years ago, we found dealers wanted three daily posts (a used, a new and a branded entertainment post). For most businesses, 4-7 posts a week is plenty, so long as they provide value to your audience.

Boosted or Sponsored Posts

Organic reach is small, and the time investment can outweigh the benefits of organic posts. A small ($20-$30) budget can go a long way and dramatically extend the reach of posts.

One way of increasing the organic reach can be to boost the posts to your own audience (page followers). This is the most likely to engage the audience with your posts, and this engagement can then help boost the overall organic reach.

Facebook Targeting

Facebook differs from Google Ads in that it targets ads at users rather than actions (e.g. typing in keywords to Google)

Most Australians are on Facebook, and Facebook knows a lot about them. Facebook is suspected of having 52,000 data points on every user.

This is the data it uses to target ads, and with its advanced targeting features, dealers and OEMs can target potential customers based on specific interests (outdoor enthusiasts), behaviours (e.g. showing signs of being in the market for a vehicle), demographics (family with kids), pages they follow (a competitor profile), how they have interacted with your brand in the past (remarketing), lookalike audiences (people with similar traits to your best customers or prospects) and so much more.

This level of targeting and the ability to A/B test creative vs. specific audiences can really help dealers and OEMs narrow their focus and deliver highly targeted ads to users who are more likely to become customers.

For example, targeting people interested in specific ute models could interest dealers launching a competing model, caravan or boat OEMs targeting buyers with a tow vehicle, etc.

Dynamic Product Ads (DPA)

There are many different forms of ads on Facebook, from standard images and videos to Shorts and Instant Experiences. People consume content differently and so a mix of ad types will maximise the potential of an account.

One ad type, in particular, is very powerful for dealers (OEMS can also use them). These are Dynamic Product Ads or DPAs. DPAs are ads based on the current stock in the dealership. These ads allow dealers to showcase their current inventory.

By leveraging the 52,000 data points Facebook has on user behaviour, DPAs dynamically display relevant products to each user, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

DPAs can be particularly powerful in retargeting or re-engaging with users who have visited your site. These ads can display the exact models the users were interested in, along with relevant pricing and specifications. They can also showcase similar or related models. This personalized approach helps re-engage potential customers and encourages them to take the next step, such as scheduling a test drive or requesting more information.

Offline Conversions

In addition to its powerful targeting capabilities and other analytical tools, Facebook offers offline conversion tracking.

The ability to generate and track leads is fantastic. With offline conversion data, dealers can measure the effectiveness of their Facebook ads in driving actual sales.

The screenshot below shows how sale values can be viewed in the ads manager, and sales attributed to specific campaigns (and ad groups)

For OEMs and dealers, customers make significant purchasing decisions after visiting dealerships.

Offline conversion tracking gives businesses a more granular view of their advertising performance. It means they can make informed decisions about their ad targeting, creative strategies, and budget allocation, ultimately driving more effective and efficient advertising campaigns. It also means they can optimise campaigns based on sales rather than leads.

Data and Insights

The significance of using offline conversions is obvious for dealers where the sale happens offline. It helps accurately measure the impact of their Facebook ads and to understand the true return on investment (ROI).

Not every business or every dealer can or wants to feed Facebook sales data. In fact, the majority work towards leads and another standout advantage of Paid Ads lies in measuring and analyzing campaign performance. Through Facebook’s powerful analytical tools, dealers and OEMs can gain real-time data and valuable insights, enabling them to refine their ads continuously. These insights help optimize paid social campaigns for maximum impact.

Using Posts and Ads Together

One of the key benefits of organic posting is the ability to gauge what type of content resonates with your target market. Through careful analysis of engagement metrics such as likes, comments, and shares, brands can gain valuable insights into their potential customers’ behaviour and preferences. This allows businesses to fine-tune their content strategy, focusing on creating more of the types of posts that generate the most engagement.

We generally view posts with over a 5% engagement rate as strong and having the potential to be turned into ads. In this case, we would be looking for the type of posts that resonate with the audience so we can build more of them.

 To view your previously published posts, go to https://business.facebook.com/content_management/PUBLISHED_POSTS

 Each post will have reach and engagement numbers. 

Unfortunately, the engagement rate needs to be calculated manually. Simply divide the reach by the engagement to get your engagement rate.

In the above example, the post reached 4.2k people or accounts and had 463 engagements, which is an engagement rate of 11%.

On the other hand, the post below reached 5,121 accounts and only had only 150 engagements  or an engagement rate of 3%. 

The first post could be potentially turned into an ad.

This approach helps businesses maximize their advertising budget by investing in ads that have already proven successful in engaging their target audience.

It’s dangerous to make decisions just on one post. On the post side of things, we would look at the last 60-90 days worth of posts (depending on the frequency of posts – we want enough data) to spot trends.

This would help us identify what type of posts get the most engagement (and what ones don’t).

This would give us a plan for the next few months on the type of posts to produce. As an agency, we do this exercise once a month and make adjustments. 

Ultimately, leveraging the insights gained from organic posting empowers brands to create a more targeted and effective social media presence that delivers a high return on investment.

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