3 essentials for organic social media

organic social media Artlist blog cover


Organic content means free content such as photos, videos, and posts you share on your social media channels. It’s designed to be enjoyed by your followers and ideally shared with their followers.
With so much content being posted to social media, it can be hard for organic content to stand out and have an impact on your followers.
For your organic content to positively impact your followers, it needs to cover three bases: entertaining, educational, and authentic.
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When it comes to marketing your brand, social media is an indispensable tool. It’s highly accessible. It enables you to connect with your customers. And to a large extent, it’s an inexpensive means of reaching a host of existing and potential customers. However, it’s also crowded, and it’s easy to get it wrong. 

With so many people, not just brands, having a social media presence, it’s very easy for your content to get swamped and overlooked. Artlist creator Christopher Claflin has identified three critical features when it comes to creating organic content that customers and clients will want to engage with.

Organic vs paid social media


Let’s start by establishing the difference between organic content and paid social media. Organic social media is the content you post on your page. It’s free to access and out there for all of your followers, whether on Instagram, TikTok, or X/Twitter, to enjoy and hopefully share with their followers. It can be photos, videos, text posts, memes, jokes, polls, questions, or anything. 

Paid social media means content that is targeted and delivered into the feeds of social media users, whether they follow your business on a platform or not. It’s advertising. You’ll see it marked as ‘Sponsored’ on Instagram or ‘Ad’ on Twitter/X. This kind of content is directed at specific demographics to have the deepest impact on your brand. Sometimes, you might create particular content for your paid advertising campaigns, but you might also reuse some of your organic content that has performed well among your followers too. 

It’s easy to forget that social media platforms themselves are businesses, and they need to turn to profit. While they might have premium subscription tiers, one of the primary sources of revenue for the likes of Instagram or TikTok is advertising. As a consequence, they use algorithms that favor serving paid-for content over organic social content. Not only will you be competing against other brands’ organic social media, but you will also be vying for eyeballs against paid advertising. 

If you’re going to take the time to create organic content, you need to see a return on the investment. Sure, paid-for content costs in terms of paying for the slot, but organic content isn’t free, either. Remember, it takes time to produce it, and it needs to be shared and monitored by, and requires engagement from, a social media team.

3 priorities for organic content


Whichever way you analyze it, your organic social media faces heavy competition from the algorithms, other brands’ content, and the content put out by everyone else on social media, too. If you’re going to make content that rakes in the views, the likes, and ideally the shares, rather than languishing on a couple of hundred views, it has to stand out from the crowd. 

Christopher has identified what he considers to be the three priority areas where organic social content can rise above the rest. Here’s where you should be focusing your attention. 



For organic content to resonate with your social media followers, it needs to have entertainment value. You don’t want your videos or other media to be dull or bland. Remember: life is short, and there’s a whole lot more to this world than social media. Your business’ social media content is competing with other brands’ marketing efforts–both organic and paid-for–with videos of puppies and kittens shared by your followers’ family and friends and by actual real life, too. 

Any videos that you share need to spark a sense of joy, fun, or excitement in the people who watch them. All your organic social media needs to be worth the 30 seconds or so your followers will have to interact with each post. 

As Christopher puts it, if you sell $3,000 handbags, just showing your customers being happy and smiling at their purchases won’t cut it. You need to do something that grabs attention. So how about doing something wild, like filming your handbags being stress-tested? Throw them off of buildings, run them over with tractors, and make soup in them. It’s unusual and draws attention.

For entertaining content, have a look at BBC Radio 2’s Instagram account. It shares snippets of videos from guest appearances or presenter moments that are funny, moving, or just brilliant. For slightly left-of-field fun content, head over to Oreo’s Instagram account and have a look at its posts. And don’t forget the power of a well-orchestrated publicity stunt, either.



People love to learn things. New knowledge and skills are fun, exciting, and empowering. By introducing something educational to your organic content, you’ll increase its appeal substantially. Ideally, to draw in people who aren’t familiar with your brand or use your products or services, you want to make that knowledge universal rather than something that only applies to what you offer. The example that Christopher provides pertains to camera lenses. He says that if you make camera lenses, don’t spend time on the particulars of the lenses that you manufacture or sell; instead, explain the general science behind lenses. All of a sudden, your content has value for all photographers and filmmakers, not just those who use your products.

Supermarkets have nailed the educational organic content niche. You only have to look at the Instagram feeds of Whole Foods in the USWaitrose in the UK, and Woolworths in Australia, among countless others, to see how they share recipe videos, guidance on food storage, ideas for special diets, as well as tips for using up leftovers, reducing waste, and saving money. It’s all beautifully produced and tempting organic content that people engage with because it’s useful. While I might live on the other side of the world from Woolworths, I follow them on social media because I like what the company posts. 

Genuine and honest


There are two sides to organic social media content’s genuine, honest, and authentic significance. First, there’s the element of people feeling that a brand shares their values. For example, Patagonia’s environmental stance, the importance of representing all people to Dove, and how this winds its way into all of their content, not just the big campaigns. 

But there’s a second side to authenticity, too. Christopher describes this as sharing content that feels real and hasn’t been passed across the desks of every manager in the building. It’s content that viewers will want to share. And the good news about this type of content is that it’s easy to produce. All it takes is a mobile phone, a little music, or a few sound effects from the Artlist library to create something meaningful and engaging.

This type of content comes in a variety of forms and is often very much part of your brand storytelling strategy. Team introduction videos are fantastic for helping your customers get to know your brand. It helps people to feel as if they have a connection to your operation, and they know who does what. Similarly, behind-the-scenes videos about how a company works, a day in the life of type content, or how products are designed and made and reach their users foster engagement between a brand and its users.

User-generated content, showing your customers using your products, wearing your garments, and making use of your services, is another means to show authenticity. Marks and Spencer’s #MyMarks campaign shares videos of Marks and Spencer customers wearing their clothing out and about. During lockdown, Getty Museums encouraged people to recreate famous works of art using whatever they had to hand, and tag it #GettyMuseumChallenge. People got very creative, felt entertained, and engaged with the museums. 


Wrapping up


Every social media platform is burgeoning with content, which makes standing out from the crowd key to a brand’s social media strategy. While that might feel overwhelming, applying Christopher’s three tips to create social media content for businesses should be fruitful. If it helps, think about what you want to see on social content and try to include that in your social media plan. And don’t forget, Artlist has all the assets you need to create high-quality, high-performing content. Artlist has dedicated account managers available to help your brand cut through with the best organic content. Just have a word with the sales team!

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Daniela is a writer and editor based in the UK. Since 2010 she has focused on the photography sector. In this time, she has written three books and contributed to many more, served as the editor for two websites, written thousands of articles for numerous publications, both in print and online and runs the Photocritic Photography School.

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