Is Social Media Marketing Going Through “The Change”?
SM is changing. Of course, by SM I mean Social Marketing. If you thought otherwise, just keep it to yourself. But while the internet and social has been a cost-effective marketing tool for small business in the past, the changes are going to make that a lot harder. And like climate change, you can’t only blame Al Gore.
Yes, SM is always changing. The industry is only 10 years old, at best. Facebook became publically accessible in 2006. Twitter, same year. MySpace predated these giants by 3 years, but while it was widely known, it wasn’t widely adopted by today’s standards. You might argue some other platforms were early social media platforms that deserve attention, but for the purposes of this article, let’s just agree that SM is still a tween and therefore likely in midst of its pubescent years. And as we all know, what goes into puberty as a sweet, caring, awkward child emerges a beastly teenager. SM is changing.
So what’s changing?
- Facebook is not leaving. Pundits and haters everywhere lust for the day the behemoth falls. It still has a long life ahead of it. But how businesses use it is going to have to change. Right now business pages get, on average, 3-7% of their likes (people who like the page) seeing an unboosted post. Your page has 100 likes? Only 3 people are even going to see your post. And these are people who, supposedly, sign up to see updates. It makes sense. Facebook needs to show a profit to its shareholders and small businesses are presumably making money off the technology with $0 out of pocket.But if you have to budget dollars to make sure your likes even see your post, much less interact with it, how do you make that slim audience engage? The strategy hasn’t changed, fortunately. Give them what they want. We in the industry have been yelling from the rooftops for years about making interesting, relevant content. It’s even more important for content to be good and interesting to show ROI. Bottom line, you better have a line item for SM in your marketing budget.
- Video speaks volumes. Video presents a conundrum. Bad video that is uninteresting and created for the sake of having video can be easy and cheap but can hurt your brand. Great video takes time and money, and creativity. But every now and then a company produces a cheap video that is both time and cost efficient, and creative. Those get the best response, but how do you ensure success? When you’re considering video, err on the side of planning. A great video that takes a little more time and money will always be more effective than a dozen cheap iPhone videos that took little time and little thought.
- Niche networks are in vogue, but they always tie back to SkyNet. Have you ever been to an affinity network focused on food, or golf, or photography, or Jimmy Buffett? You know, an entire social platform dedicated to the topic? But I bet that when you signed up for that new social platform you probably had the option of using your Facebook log-in and connecting your accounts. Why?Niche networks aren’t new. They look different, but they are still just more mature versions of AOL Channels and Yahoo! Groups of the early 2000s. They are all hooked onto the side of the proverbial Facebook punch bowl….they’ve drunk the Kool Aid. It doesn’t mean they’re less important. It just means that, in context, all those affinity platforms’ users are still players in similar circles on Facebook and Twitter.
- Emerging networks should be watched, no matter how many go boom. Did you hear the one about the new Google social media platform? Or, what about Ello? What about Edgee? Cool ideas. No adoption. What about Instagram? Or SnapChat? Or Pinterest? While Facebook will never fall, we have a tendency to adopt more social platforms into our daily routine. And some of these newer platforms are gaining momentum by adopting a pinterest strategy of*:
- Knowing your target audience and directing the product and marketing towards them.
- Investing in changes slowly, not rocking the boat.
- Limiting the functionality to simplify the experience.
- Not trying to be the ONLY social platform out there
*Listen Up, Google. You’re trying too hard.
Social marketing will be different tomorrow. Who knows what will happen this time next year. SM should continue to play a part in the marketing strategy for businesses small to large, but it can no longer be thought of as a corporation’s after thought or an entrepreneur’s silver bullet.