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Is Social Media Marketing Dead?
If you don't like ambiguity, look away now.
For the rest of you, we'd like to start by saying "welcome," we're glad you stuck around for an exciting conversation. Like most things in life, social media is in pretty much constant flux these days. Services come and go, user rates rise and fall, and existing platforms come in and out of favor. Along with these changes, the rules and regulations for any platform can also change at a moment's notice.
While all of that may make it sound like social media is a losing proposition for your marketing efforts—we disagree.
In North America, social media isn't the juggernaut it used to be, with users staying relatively stagnant at ~250 million. That said, global numbers tell a different story, with a 9% year-over-year rise to nearly 3.5 billion users worldwide. So when it comes to your marketing efforts, it's true that things have changed, meaning it may pay to adapt and roll with the changes.
The focus of social media marketing in the past was paid ads, with Facebook and Twitter being the primary platforms of choice here. However, with just a few tweaks to their algorithms, these services have altered the likelihood of your target audience ever seeing your ads.
The most recent shift has been to a more authentic and personal experience. Not only is this what the public is looking for, but the networks have responded with further changes to their feeds to highlight these one-on-one interactions. We will look a little deeper at this trend of increasing engagement between companies and their existing and potential customers and what impact it should have on your social media marketing strategy.
The Shift From Paid Ads to Organic Social Engagement
This shift is due primarily to one factor: social platforms changed their algorithms to feature content from people's followers and accounts they've engaged with over corporate content or paid ads. The reasons behind this shift are a hotly debated subject that we won't wade into today. Suffice it to say we're big fans because this allows companies to flex their brand voice and personality in new and exciting ways.
By highlighting the organic nature of these conversations, a company can make great strides in increasing its reach by delighting followers with witty back-and-forth conversations alongside excellent industry information and answers to the pain points they know their users have.
However, all this great news comes with a caveat—watch out for the "digital Detox" effect. People are inundated by their social media feeds every day, and a growing number are taking to unplugging for a time. When they return, they spend more time and energy cultivating their friend lists. Nurture your audience with great content and engaging conversations to ensure they remain followers after doing such a social media purge.
Why We Think Now Is the Perfect Time to Cultivate Your Social Media Presence
We're pretty sure you've caught on to the fact that we don't think social media marketing is anywhere near death's door, but just to nail the point home, here are our top 3 reasons we think NOW is the perfect time to work social media into your content marketing strategy and attract more social media followers.
E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthy. There is no better way to increase these three factors on an ongoing basis than to cultivate your social media presence. By providing exceptional content and engaging readers on other platforms with links directing them to that excellent content, you're role-modeling all 4 EEAT guidelines simultaneously. We'll have more to say about EEAT later.
Social media is the perfect venue for brand awareness campaigns. By displaying your brand voice while also conveying the human presence behind the brand, you'll be proving your authenticity to your audience in the same way as you are to Google via E-E-A-T. Engage with your followers as yourself, and they'll come to trust you as their go-to source for information on your industry and your product/service. It's a fact that people trust people more than they do corporate entities, so give them a human to trust, and they'll follow you anywhere.
3) Customer service
The public increasingly uses social media to air their grievances with companies and products and find help and support. Having a dedicated customer service account available to field these inquiries, with documented support hours and everything, shows your customers that you value their time and are willing to meet them where they are to help.
How To Use Organic Social Media Marketing Effectively
We will borrow from Google and say that you should follow the same EAT principles outlined above for SEO. You want to cultivate the same response in your social media best practices as you do from the search engine giant—trust.
Show your expertise; in your industry, with your product, and with your audience. This will keep them engaged and returning for more relevant and useful information and great conversations. Helping people with their pain points is the easiest way to engender the trust you’re aiming for, so using your expert knowledge is a surefire way to get started.
As you grow your domain authority by directing relevant links to your website, you also grow your authority in your readers' eyes when the content they find continues to help them with those pain points. Tweet about your newest product update with details about how it’s better than ever. Or write up a Facebook post that outlines a how-to guide for mastering a particularly troublesome issue you know is facing folks in your audience.
The ultimate goal is to become a trusted advisor to your audience. The more useful information you share, and the more solutions they find in your content, the more ensconced you'll become in the position of trusted advisor.
Social media has changed the world in the past few years, for better and worse. If you want to continue making the most of its power to influence people as a marketing tool, it would behoove you to make a few adjustments to your strategy to keep up with the changes being made by the platforms themselves. With a few tweaks here and there, we're confident you can continue seeing great results from your activities on these social networks well into the future.