hand holding a mobile phone showing an instagram account and in the background is a cup of coffee and a small desk plant

Organic vs Paid Posts

Photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

You’ve got your content plan, you’ve scheduled everything, you’re posting at the right time, you’re engaging with others.

So why isn’t your content getting seen by more people? And what about likes and comments?

There’s a mix of reasons why your account might feel ‘stuck’:

  • You’re ‘invisible’ to the algorithm i.e. your content isn’t generating enough engagement to merit it being shown to more accounts
  • You’re engaging on others’ posts but your comments aren’t thoughtful or they’re being pushed down by other comments, especially if they’re on posts of popular accounts

Great. Now what?

  • Never stop creating high quality content. Take inspiration from posts are successful but don’t copy them exactly – put your spin so it’s unique to you and your audience
  • Keep up your engagement efforts – on others’ accounts and with the comments beneath your post
  • A small boost from time to time may be helpful too

What do I mean by a ‘small boost’?

Promote a post from your feed – not to be confused with a paid ad campaign, which has a full strategy, specific content, and budget i.e. the ads that you see on your feed and stories.

Promoting a post is much simpler: select the post that you feel should have more exposure, set the budget and timeframe and let the platforms get to work.

I did a basic test with a few posts on Instagram, here’s a breakdown of what happened:

Not Promoted (L) vs Promoted (R)

It’s immediately obvious that the promoted post on the right received more views, but does that mean it also received many likes? Nope. It only received 16 likes.

Does that mean that it was a failure?

Actually, no. Check out these stats:

True, it didn’t translate into new followers but it did put my post in front of over 2,000 people and triggered eight people to check out my account. Of those, three reached out to me privately so I’m counting that as a win.

I replicated that with another set of posts:

Not Promoted (L) vs Promoted (R)

And here are the results:

This time around, the post wasn’t seen by as many people because Instagram’s prioritising video content and carousels at the moment.

The interesting thing about both sets of promotions? Each was run for just 24 hours and with a budget of AED 15 ($4) while targeting an audience profile that I manually created.

I also noticed an uptick in reach and interactions for organic posts uploaded post-promotion, like this one:

Another result was a small burst of eight new followers – nothing fancy to brag about – but they’re from my exact target audience compared to previous followers who were just random accounts.

So, while I found it useful to do brief promotions, it only should be done for specific posts. However, this isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get a flurry of likes, comments, and follows – the proof of that is from my results. Would it be different if I increased the budget and/or lengthened the promotion period? Sure. How, I don’t know.

I’ll do another post if I do another experiment that explores different factors.

A word of advice: these are not a replacement for a proper Ads Manager and social media ad campaign. Meaningful results need meaningful strategies, content creation, and behind-the-scenes action.


Leave a Reply