Developing a Pay-to-Play Strategy: How to Create a Balanced Facebook Publishing Schedule with Organic and Paid Content

It’s a fact now that relying solely on your organic reach in the Facebook News Feed will not get your content enough visibility.

There’s been widespread coverage in Inc., the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Fast Company and many other publications that Facebook is now a pay-to-play platform because paid advertising has become entirely necessary to ensure your messaging is regularly seen on the social network.

According to AdAge, even Facebook admits to a diminished focus on organic content from page posts:

“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”

However, we’ve seen this kind of thing before when search engine optimization lost some of its luster with the growing prevalence of pay-per-click advertising. In the end, these are all marketing channels that must monetize to stay in business.

As a marketer or business owner, it’s important to begin incorporating paid advertising as part of your existing Facebook strategy to continue to see results from both your paid and organic efforts.

Everyone’s budgets are stretched thin, but of all the social media channels available for businesses today, it’s important to apply your advertising spend to Facebook since the network commands the largest and most nuanced audience on the web.

According to Pew Research, 90% of Twitter users, 93% of Instagram users, 87% of Pinterest users and 83% of LinkedIn users use Facebook. If you’re trying to reach your audience with the right messaging, Facebook is where your social advertising budget should start.

Social Media Matrix

Social Media Matrix

Here’s what it takes to properly balance your Facebook strategy to better incorporate organic and paid content.


Update your page daily with organic content with paid opportunities in mind.

Your Facebook page should still be updated on a regular basis with content relevant to your audience’s interests, since it’s still one of your main content marketing hubs.

It’s important to maintain your organic reach as much as possible by sharing a variety of content in different forms, including the feedback of your following, experimenting with the best times to post and establishing the right frequency of posting from your page.

Typically, the rule of thumb here is to share content one to three times a day during the week and a few times over the weekend from your Facebook page, but it’s important that your organization finds what works best with your audience through extensive experimentation.

When experimenting with content shared on your Facebook page, keep in the back of your mind that this content can be boosted through paid advertising and presented to a much larger audience on the social network.

Netflix

Netflix

When sponsoring previously published posts, be sure that they have a direct impact on helping your organization achieve its goals with social media, since you’re spending your budget to deliver this content to a larger audience.

If this post features your original content, product or service offering, link to your website or a recent promotion. That makes it far more valuable to apply your advertising budget to boosting this type of post.

While it’s important to occasionally share the content of others on your social channels, never pay to promote a Facebook post that features someone else’s content. Your budget should drive a strong ROI for your business, not pay to boost the influence of another individual or organization.


Organic posts should have broader appeal, while paid content should focus on niche audiences.

It’s important that all of your content shared on Facebook be relevant to your audience.

When posting content from your Facebook page to be found organically in the News Feed, it should be of relevance to a broader demographic since a majority of your audience will likely see this content.

Most businesses have a few demographics that make up their audience, which require a variety of messaging to suit their needs and interests.

Focus on a broader appeal when it comes to the content shared on your Facebook page since everyone can see a majority of these posts, but narrow the specific nuances of each demographic that makes up your audience when it comes to your Facebook ads.

Use Facebook ads to target your various audience personas with specific messaging meant to drive conversions, since they are the only group of people on Facebook who can see these types of ads.

Whether you’re targeting customers who respond to sales and discounts or you’re targeting users of your mobile app, Facebook ad campaigns should be designed to reach a specific audience with tailored messaging.


Match organic and paid Facebook campaigns to different parts of the funnel.

In addition to remaining broad with your organic Facebook posts and focusing on the specific messaging of your different audiences with your paid advertising, match your Facebook campaigns to different parts of the conversion funnel.

Your Facebook posts distributed organically in the News Feed should focus on top-of-the-funnel concerns like driving awareness, pushing traffic to your content, encouraging engagement with your brand’s Facebook page and other “low touch” actions.

The goal of your organic Facebook content is to introduce users to your organization, its content and offerings in an effort to slowly build trust and begin to move a prospects down the conversion funnel one post at a time.

Using Facebook website Custom Audiences targeting and other features offered by Facebook’s paid advertising solutions, your business will be able to zero-in on customers at all points across the funnel with relevant messaging.

Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Creative Cloud

For example, targeting an existing subscriber of your email list with an ad related to recent shopping habits on your website will help you craft a more timely and relevant ad in an effort to create a conversion.

The targeting capabilities of Facebook advertising allow your organization to focus on those who have interacted with your business before, those prospects close to making a conversion, and existing customers or other audiences similar to your current customer base.

When it comes to your paid campaigns on Facebook, focus on reaching audiences further down the funnel.


Analyze success with organic or paid to fuel future campaigns.

Both your organic and paid Facebook campaigns can guide your organization’s strategy when trying to find an appropriate publishing balance by planning to be spontaneous.

Since your organic content efforts are free, there’s more of an opportunity to survey your audience and see what works and what doesn’t. In most cases, when something doesn’t work on Facebook, the audience just doesn’t see it, which really doesn’t cost your company anything aside from time and effort.

If you’re looking to test the waters with new messaging or a new type of content, see how it performs organically in Facebook’s News Feed before paying for its distribution.

Consistently monitoring what’s working organically will help give your team insight into which content to sponsor and share with a larger like-minded Facebook audience.

When it comes to your paid efforts, this gives your team the opportunity to get insight from users outside your existing Facebook following and customer base. These fresh data points can help give your team a new perspective on the content you’re distributing organically on Facebook.

How is your organization managing the balance between your organic Facebook posts and your paid advertising on the network? Is your strategy generally consistent or does it regularly change depending on the feedback from your campaigns? Share your thoughts in the comments below.