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Author: Anne Casey
As a marketing consultant it is becoming more and more common for me to come across companies that are experiencing one of the following scenarios with their social media marketing (namely Facebook and Instagram, with a scattering of Twitter and LinkedIn):
We’ve ventured into using Facebook for a while now as everyone said we should. It feels like we’re pouring effort and money into a social media marketing strategy which that doesn’t produce any impact. Our number of followers has become stagnant and is still not driving much traffic to our site, let alone converting into sales. What are we doing wrong?
Social media marketing and Facebook advertising was working for us for a while – inquiries and traffic to our websites were coming from social media links, however, it seems to have lost its effectiveness and doesn’t work as well any more. What is happening?
To answer these questions, we must first understand what social media really is, the drivers behind it and how it is evolving.
What is Social Media?
This is a question everyone asks, often linked to popular platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. However, did you know that WhatsApp, WeChat, Reddit, Quora, blogs, and even Wikipedia can also be described as social media?
A loose definition of social media can be “Technology facilitated platforms (i.e. websites or mobile apps) that enable virtual interaction among a community or network. This interaction can take the form of ideas, interest or information creation, sharing, a discussion in a public or closed group format.” In a nutshell, it’s basically a ‘group’ of people with a something or someone in common interacting virtually. They may or may not know each other.
Leading on from that, social media marketing is advertising on any of these platforms.
And what is driving these virtual interactions?
Just as we share different information with different people, we instinctively choose to share or discuss only certain topics through certain social media. For example, I may share photos of family gatherings only in our ‘Caseys’ WhatsApp group, however I am happy to share a life hack tip on Facebook and at the same time, comment on an article about Trump administration on Quora while I congratulate a contact on a new job on LinkedIn – and I’m also happy to share a ‘Story’ on Snapchat (but not on Messenger) or repin a pin on Pinterest!
The point is…
• RELEVANCE – As a brand, you need to know how relevant what you are sharing is. Is what you’re posting a good fit for that platform? Ensuring you always remain relevant on the right platform(s) is critical to ensure ongoing success with your social media marketing strategy.
• FREQUENCY – Quality over quantity, always. Like someone who talks a lot about nothing that is worth listening to – you’d rather listen to a person of few words, but with every word well selected and thought out. Too frequent communication creates brand fatigue, such as through boosting the same post all the time, and over too long a period to the same audience. People go on social media frequently and people will get tired of your brand. So, unless you have new ways of appealing to them, if you are always targeting the same audience you need to have fresh, interesting and relevant content, otherwise your social media marketing will fail!
How is social media evolving?
Not surprisingly we have become the #1 fans of our mobile phones. We cannot stop ourselves from checking it constantly, and we’re at a lost should we be more than 20 steps away from it at anytime! Staying connected has become an addiction that has led to the prolific creation of “mobile first” social media platforms. This includes players such as Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and even Tinder! These are prime opportunities for social media marketing which can catch customers attention on devices which they are constantly connected to.
Also, for the first time ever in the marketing world, we have the existence of a parallel digital ecosystem, showing us what the future may look like. Due to the different language and the Chinese government’s control of the internet, Chinese digital media has evolved in many ways ahead of the usual English ones. The key mobile first platform that has emerged here is WeChat (a social media, online shopping, payment portal, booking, article sharing and yes, chat platform), one that leads the way and gives us a glimpse of how a social media platform can evolve to be the hub for e-commerce, communication, news and more.
In the English speaking world, apps similar to WeChat (but unlikely to be as extreme) are already emerging. The digital media world is controlled by Facebook and Google – Facebook alone owns Messenger, WhatsApp, Facebook, FBlite and Instagram! These are evolving at a rate that challenges Snapchat, and is bringing the demise of Twitter, with its declining user rate. The big players are getting bigger, becoming social giants actually.
And how will it affect me?
• RELEVANCE (again, because it’s super important!) – With a increasing numbers of social media platforms in the marketplace, each specific platform becomes more specialised. When you publish your own content, be it an article or a meme, make sure it is in the platform it is most relevant to.
• Make it EASY – Make sure that your content is easily shared in different platforms, providing beyond the standard share options that are usually available on blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, email and Twitter. The share options for WhatsApp, Pinterest and Instagram may see more usage than you expect! YouTube, for example, has several options, but a missing element here is WhatsApp.
• Be at the FRONT – Social media favours those with a large network, who are one step ahead. This means that once you figure out the ‘system’, you have to make your presence known in order to create your network as quickly as possible! Learn how you can set yourself up in the best position to capitalise on this before paying to reach or interact with the people you want to talk to.
Be careful, however – a high number of social media platforms come with their guns blazing, and then disappear without a trace. Some examples of now gone (or going) social networks are Myspace, Fourspace, Orkut and Multiply. The biggest determinant to a platform’s success is the ability to get a core group of regular users, so review the strategy of the platform, test the waters and, if you think this is a sure winner, be one of the early adopters of it.
If you get it right and do it right, you will be a success! Also be at the forefront of the changes, e.g. on LinkedIn you can now post videos, but not many organisations or individuals are doing it. There is an opportunity to do so and stand out right now.
• EVOLVE – Start understanding how these ‘social media giants’ are looking to make their money, as this will affect your future on their platform. For example, with LinkedIn’s new user interface, functions that are rolled out are all focused on boosting their main revenue streams – recruitment, e-learning, advertising and lead generation. This has enhanced some features and resulted in the removal of others. Now is the time to focus on your social media marketing strategy. Maximise your company page following, as more in-depth stats have been released and the impressions of posts from company page are high, without needing to be boosted.
As another example of how social media has evolved, Facebook’s groups have grown to be at times more important than your own business page. The hubs of like-minded individuals are a perfect source for information on your audience, so make use of that!
So, why is your social media marketing dying a painful death? Most likely one of these reasons:
• Relevance – your content is not relevant and engaging within that social media platform
• Frequency – better to be less frequent, but relevant. Don’t be like the saying: “empty vessels make the most noise”.
• Ease – always make it easy for viewers/readers to share in whatever platform they choose to. Make sure that the most common platforms of your target audience are catered for!
• Be at the front – but know the risks. Take advantage of the changes, and try out something new, as this gives you a chance to stand out and be seen.
• Evolve – understand how the platforms work. Knowing their objectives, and how the users are interacting with it, you can maximise your efforts on that digital media.
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