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Most people know what organic means when it comes to their bananas. But what does it mean for marketing and content? Understanding what organic is, how it compares to paid, and how both work is a major component in building a winning content strategy.

"Organic" is a classification tool for marketing metrics that gives marketers a way to understand and measure the performance of digital channels, like social media and websites. Marketers break the traffic  from these channels down into two major types - organic and paid - to provide insight into how that specific traffic was generated. "Organic" in marketing is the equivalent to "unpaid" - it's content, traffic or other metrics your digital properties receive based upon things like their relevance to Google or other search engine searches or their innate resonance with your existing audience - NOT with how much money you've spent. Getting your digital properties to perform well organically is the first step in building successfull paid advertising campaigns.

Like anything tied to metrics, having an analytics program that quantifies the impact of your digital properties is a must. For a website, that could be a program like Google Analytics or proprietary program tied to your website's CMS platform. For social channels, it's usually an Insights program, like in Facebook and Instagram. On a website, organic traffic is typically what's measured. It shows how much of a site's traffic comes from paid or unpaid sources, and where the traffic goes within the property. On social media, organic traffic is measured by how much virality a post achieves without an advertising spend.

So on a website, the analytics tool could show a percentage of direct or standard search-result-based traffic (not paid campaigns, which are designated differently) going to a particular blog post. That traffic shows the content of that blog post is performing better when compared to other content on the site. Therefore, to increase overall traffic, the organic content strategy might include creating more blog posts with similar topics or styles. On the GYRE blog, one of our best-performing posts is about brand building. It performed well, and we've written subsequent posts about branding and visual design.

For a social media platform, good organic content is reflected in a post's ability to spread widely (a term known as "reach") without incurring extra cost for the post's owner. Posts that perform well organically drive content strategy by giving owners and marketers a feel for the information that's most interesting and relevant to their audience. Once they know that, they can, as mentioned before, delve deeper into topics their audience enjoys, or produce new content in similar ways (photo album vs video).

Organic Pad

In the image above, a Facebook page had an organic reach of roughly 1000 views/day (light yellow), but supplemented that with a paid ad and reached up to 10,000 views/day over the campaign - a 10x increase.

This effect shows exactly why organic traffic and content are a good jumping off point for paid campaigns. If a blog post on a certain topic performs well organically, there might be other audiences searching for similar information. In that case, a search campaign using keywords found in the article can help drive more traffic (this time, paid!) to a website. For social media, organically well-performing posts usually perform similarly well for larger, promoted audiences, and paying for a campaign built around those posts can increase brand awareness and reach.