Facebook laid the foundation of social media with its launch on November 6, 2007 with its Pages and allowed social media enthusiasts to build their online presence on its network. And the businesses were quick to grab this opportunity. On the first day, almost one million pages were created by brands like Cocoa Cola and Verizon. Soon others joined the race to build audiences on the social media.
Nine years later in 2016; social media showed its uglier face and demand for a draw-down of dsocial media started coming from different corners. The magic that was unveiled with Facebook launch was fading. But businesses learnt a practical lesson that is just having social presence and followers doesn’t mean success.
In 2017, it became clear that the booming social media is paying fewer dividends to brands and their marketers. So, what is next?
How we got here?
Social media started shrinking its space in 2012 when Facebook announced that it is curtailing percentage of followers to a Page by 16%. But some brands reported that they could contact barely 2% or one in every 50 followers. The latest tweak took place last summer after which brands reported that their reach to their followers is curtailed to half.
Soon Instagram, Twitter and others followed the trend and we’ve the social media that prioritizes its content according to its algorithm. It isn’t a conspiracy to suffocate the social media but the fact that there is more content available to upload and prioritizing posts and tweets became a necessity.
The news of content prioritization came as surprise for many as they weren’t expecting such turn of events but if a quick look at growth of social media shows that the move was imminent. In 2017, social media seems to be crushing under its own weight.
The social paradox
Social media is undergoing transformation and the transformation is for better. It will become a business tool that is simpler to use but more targeted and more effective than its previous avatar.
The power of social media can be judged from the findings of a study conducted by McKinsey. It surveyed around 20,000 consumers and found that social recommendations were behind more than a quarter of sales made by the surveyed customers. The report concluded that social updates impact decisions and influence choices.
The report is encouraging but updating audiences about business offers has become more challenging. Businesses can’t shun social media as it will be ignoring the over 2 billion users that rely on social media for news and updates. And to embrace the social media will be putting highest-standards of social media marketing to connect to targeted audiences.
But there are solutions to this problem. Social media ads are one solution and also the businesses can adopt the three-pronged approach that is blending paid ads with marketing strategies and involving their employees to spread content on social media.
Put your money where your post is
Let’s start it with a report of Gartner’s industry analysts. They say that pay-to-play has become the founding stone of marketing strategies. Around 80 percent of the companies using social media are planning to start their ad campaigns in the coming year. Now every social platform has its native ads to promote businesses and these ads are more advantageous for businesses than the earlier posts and tweets.
Social media that is pressuring businesses to pay the advantages also wants to keep the businesses happy and for this reason social networks are avoiding blasting surprise updates. Instead the companies are provided an opportunity to target the followers and also the non-followers with a high degree of accuracy. Businesses will be charged for the service but they will get the advantage of targeting specific demographic groups and lookalike audiences with data captured by networks. With the data, campaign goals can be set and ads optimized and budget allocated for better results.
Unleash the social media army on your payroll
Soon you’ll have to pay to reach out to your audiences on social media but there is another way to approach social media users and communicate with them without paying a single penny. It is to involve your coworkers in the marketing strategy.
It is employee advocacy and it involves encouraging employees to spread and share company messages from their personal profiles on social media. This step will enhance your reach exponentially and since the messages will be flashed from personal profiles, they’ll reach a large number of followers. Also the content shared by employees gets more value than content shared by brands as the employees share and re-share a message many times. And companies can send preapproved updates to their employees for social media sharing.
Inspire customers to create
Nothing works on social media better user generated content but first of all you should understand why customer created content holds great value on social media. Creating engaging content is like taking an active part in spread of information regarding businesses instead of sitting on the sidelines passively.
For businesses, engagement of customers is like building close bonds with loyal customers while relying on crowdsourced content for marketing. Also engaging the users for creating content is like taking a shortcut to reach the goal that is to approach a large number of followers. Since the users create the content from their personal profiles they can circumvent the algorithm that limits reach of corporate accounts. But the businesses should know how to incentivize loyal customers.
Social media is expanding and in the process, it has put some limitations on its commercial use. Its evolution was cheerful but soon it started transforming its powers into a match referee instead of a spectator. Restrictions were put on commercial use of the social media and then solutions were offered. Now businesses have to pay to use the social media.
Businesses are toying with new ideas to cut short the route to success and also to save some money while investing on social media ads and marketing campaigns. But a long distance has to be travelled before the businesses are able to take full advantage of the social media.