Every year, marketers start making predictions on the next big marketing trends.
You may have noticed the blog posts and tweets rolling out already?
Marketers ducking and diving, jostling to position themselves as an “authority” on any given topic.
Bold predictions are tossed around with the aim of gaining attention and becoming the next go-to guru.
Expect the noise to intensify this year and brace yourself for the inevitable avalanche of marketing buzzwords; transparency, synergy, globalization, personalization, reach and engagement, to name a few.
Indeed, it seems many commentators place far more emphasis on likes, shares, followers and social engagement than on actual sales and profit – which I’d suggest is rather silly.
Here’s the truth: Social media is getting more and more difficult and the returns are diminishing by the day.
And it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
Facebook has killed organic reach back in 2015
Facebook killed the organic reach back in 2015, shockingly, not many business owners know about this.
Most of the advice being published about Facebook’s 2015 algorithm change is centred around how best to react to the likely decrease in engagement that brands will suffer.
There’s loads of fluff about how you’re going to need to make your posts really informative, specific, valuable and personal. Stuff like how you’ll have to invest in “niche targeted, strategic ad campaigns.”
But it might well be a complete waste of your time.
Indeed, if you’re a business in the B2B sector, you may be better off actually deleting your Facebook page than fretting about how to market to an embarrassingly low number of fans.
Your posts are already only reaching about 2% of your fans.
Indeed, a study by Forrester showed that on average, only 0.7% of brand fans interact with posts. And it’s getting worse, especially for B2B. Because, going forward, unless you heavily promote your individual posts, virtually nobody is going to see them. Any post deemed to be “advertising” simply won’t be shown to your fans unless you pay for it.
The cost of acquiring Facebook Followers doesn’t make economic sense
A client of ours recently decided to invest in promoting their Facebook business page and the statistics make grim reading.
Even though they used a nicely designed, direct response style advert in an industry that has historically performed reasonably well on Facebook, the cost of acquiring each new like on their most recent campaign was £2. So, if they had promoted their page with a target of gaining 500 new likes, they’d have to spend £1,000.
That’s a terrible investment.
And it’s an even worse investment when you take into account that only a tiny percentage of these new likes are even going to see any future posts.
You’re forced to pay all over again to promote your posts to a demographic you’ve already paid to acquire!
It makes no sense whatsoever.
But aren’t I supposed to be investing in social media?
Maybe. But it depends on the business and the platform.
We’re at the stage when most people expect to be able to click through from your website to view your social pages and get a sense of who you are. But you certainly don’t need multiple social platforms to meet this requirement.
If you’re a small business, investing significant money or time in marketing directly at social media users is becoming less and less effective. If you ignore LinkedIn (I try to…) these are not platforms that were built for the business community.
Admittedly, some small businesses do enjoy a big advantage when it comes to social; local food establishments, for example, will generally enjoy greater success than others limited by the desirability of their product.
Irrespective of this, their engagement has also declined massively. And if they want to maintain their previous level of reach and engagement, they’ll have to pay handsomely in order to do so.
Facebook maintains that the new algorithm is not about maximizing profit but maintaining the quality of their users’ feeds.
And that’s perfectly understandable. Because I very much doubt you check into Facebook and get devilishly excited when you notice a post from a local hardware store advertising a “10% OFF SALE on ALL Power Tools?
Most people’s reaction is more along the lines of “fuck off local hardware store.”
Facebook and Twitter were originally supposed to be about catching up with friends and sharing photos, thoughts and trivia. They are social tools.
But then the “businesses” noticed the number of users on these platforms and arrived on cue to screw it all up.
The big corporations and small local businesses all had their eyes on the prize.
“We have to find a way to take advantage of this mass of people by engaging and communicating our bland corporate message.”
These days, a tube of toothpaste wants to have a human conversation with you…
A local marketing consultant wants to help you and add value to your business…
A can of fizzy pop followed you and asked for a follow back…
It’s fucking absurd when you think about it, isn’t it?
No matter how clever the strategy, businesses have clumsily hijacked social media platforms and fucked everything up by trying to over-deliver their marketing messages. They may dress themselves up as cool-cats with a hip message, but results matter, and ultimately they need to part the consumer from their cash.
That is simply not what social media was originally designed to be about.
And it is why social media marketing by almost any measure has failed to produce the promised results for small businesses.
If you’re wasting hour upon hour dreaming up new posts that might draw a little extra engagement out of your followers, maybe you should rethink your marketing priorities.
Yes, posting informative, lighthearted and helpful content remains a sensible strategy. But investing money in acquiring followers and fans is so like 2014.
And, if like the content giant, Copyblogger, any one of these social platforms becomes a genuine distraction to your business, maybe it’s time you set it free?
Before investing too much time on social media strategies, get your foundations right.
Make sure your brand stands out and your website converts your visitors.
Then work to increase your visibility and reach in the search engines.
This is the base from which you will grow.
Only once you’ve nailed these strategies, should you consider any significant investment of time or money in social media. And if you do, choose your platforms wisely.