Social Media was the buzz for the longest time. All you heard was that you were missing ample marketing opportunities if you didn’t have an online presence across every channel or social outlet available. Getting social media for your business was a big deal. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and even Google+ before it fizzled out.
While it still is important to have an organic presence on all of these channels, the weight of how much it affects your actual marketing and sales goals have changed dramatically. To make sense of the hype of social media marketing, and its current downfall, we have to take you back. Way back.
In short, over a decade ago, Google started to see a dip in their popularity as a reputable search engine. Competitors like Bing showed up and commercials even made fun of how you’d type in one word into Google’s search bar but were quickly led to a series of options that weren’t relevant. Worse, the top results that would appear either paid big money or used unethical loopholes via keywords written on the back end of sites to get top results (now referred to as black hat SEO). With 60% of clicks going to the top three websites in search engine results, consumers began to complain that Google was shelling out results that weren’t trustworthy. Consumers began to have bad experiences, and because the business results were at the top, they received the majority of the leads, so they continued to stay at the top, garnering the most traffic and sales. Despite bad customer service and irrelevance, they had the income to keep showing up in top rankings.
As people began to question Google’s search results, the giant search engine began to lose its credibility… and stock. So, there was a major overhaul. This very issue was one that Google didn’t take lightly and immediately acted on. Not only did it clean house and penalize unethical SEO managers who loopholed the system to get top ranking results, but it also made it so that search engine results were more trustworthy and relevant to the end-user searching for answers.
In Came Social Media Channels As Reputable Results For Search Engine Inquiries.
Google began using social media networks as part of their ranking algorithm because social media was already doing everything Google would have tried to have done with its software. Places like Facebook and Yelp were policing their platforms and removing spam, while also encouraging reviews and connections between people and businesses. This was why social media managers put so much emphasis on having every company they managed on every social channel. Because social media was now heavily ranked in search engine results and you can reach your customers organically with it easily.
In fact, even still, when you research a person or company, you’ll find that, in addition to their websites and blog articles, their social media channels will also populate. Google still uses social queues and business listing accuracy from these social media channels as ranking factors for your website and maps listing.
So, that little bit of background is what initially prompted social media channels to garner such great traffic. Google was now showing relevant and updated content that was trustworthy and active. Not just old, outdated, and neglected websites with old blogs. Rather, it now was highlighting companies and small businesses with an active, online presence and participation.
Remember When Facebook Fan Pages Were Free?
This made Facebook Fan pages (also known as business pages) one of the biggest opportunities to make tons of leads and revenue. Before Facebook chose to monetize its platform with ads, people were able to build massive followings without restriction or limited viewing on their Facebook Fan page. People even began to use Fan pages in place of websites. Social media for your business was a must. At the time it seemed like a no-brainer to do so. Facebook was a free platform, where everyone was actively and openly talking, trying, and even buying from folks who had made their products and services available on their business page(s). Your business could easily be in the feeds of your potential customers every day with a simple post. It was foolish to not be on and actively posting on all the social media channels you could.
It worked well for a while, but then Facebook users began to complain of constant invites to fan pages, an overwhelming amount of marketing content, and the loss of what they originally came to Facebook for – connecting to friends and family for a celebration, not sales.
Like all successful models, the creators of Facebook saw an opportunity to keep both sides happy. They made changes that would allow them to keep their everyday end users feeling more entertained and less advertised to while also creating a way to keep business pages active, earning a portion of their profits via monetizing their platform. Facebook began making significant changes to its platform.
Personal page users would see less promotional content and even those who were following fan pages would see fewer posts from the businesses they were following because Facebook limited visibility, unless the business page owners paid-to-play. That is, they would have to begin boosting posts to increase visibility.
This pay-to-play model has evolved into what is now one of the most well-known online marketing options, yet, recently reported by 62% Facebook ads users as a failure.
While It Is Still Important To Have A Presence On Respective Channels, It Is Not As Effective To Post Daily As It Used To Be.
Since Facebook began to monetize its platform, others followed suit. Pinterest and Instagram also adopted similar marketing models where business profile owners have to pay to place their content in front of targeted audiences. Because of this, social media has changed the way its users interact with their respective media outlets and who they follow on each. Social media for business has changed even more.
What used to be a solid, organic approach to connecting with new and existing followers became a paid approach with limited and targeted options solely. So, you may be wondering how to incorporate social media marketing, if at all. Here, we want to break down how to use it effectively so that you understand the best practices for utilizing social media, without spending money and time that will not return on either investment.
When and How Should I Use Social Media for Marketing, if at all?
Social media is still exactly that – a medium in which your brand can socialize with current and new customers. It is still a great way to showcase content that is inspirational, humorous, engaging, and humanizing. All of which can highlight things about your brand that still build rapport and earn respect, without being overly promotional. This helps your brand also stay top-of-mind so that when they see your occasional tip or comical post as they scroll, it further connects you and strengthens brand exposure and recognition.
Should you decide you do want to pay-to-play in social media for your business, it would be to get in front of new, potential users. You can target audiences based on demographics you believe would be most interested in your products and services. What we recommend is to follow a marketing strategy as outlined below:
First, post links to your blogs on social channels. This not only gives viewers a peek into what you’re up to but also a direct link that takes them to your site.
Second, look at which articles garnered the most engagement and boost those posts to get an extra push of interested users.
Lastly, at a later time, follow-up with a separate display ad that offers a sale on the very products and services you have recently shared with them casually in discussion and demo via your blogs. This way they are already familiar with your brand and have hopefully received some valuable information from you.
What Should I Be Mindful Of When Advertising On Social?
In truth, social media marketing is usually not the best place to put your ad budget. We don’t say this with contempt. We say this after years of studying ROI and analytics that simply do not support a marketing budget spent on social sites for every brand.
That said, this marketing is cheap, and if you choose to try your luck at social media ads, make sure you are familiar with and constantly monitoring your ROI. You’ll want to start conservatively with what we call “micro-boosting” your ads so that your budget isn’t eaten up quickly. Instead, you are starting with a small budget that prompts the ad platform you’re on to prove its efficiency with what you create and promote. If successful (by your definition and marketing goals) you can always gradually increase your budget.
Think Of Intention Vs Attention When Promoting Ads
Always consider your audience and their intentions when you market on any platform. People go to social media to be entertained and depending on your product or service, you may not be able to grab the users’ attention from their intention. And even if you do, it is hard to switch their intention from seeking entertainment to buying something from you.
Is your product or service entertaining? If so, perhaps social media is a great place to start with ads for your business. Remember, people voiced their preference for entertaining and connecting content over overtly promotional content. Ads on social media are a more proactive and passive way of showcasing what you offer in hopes of those like-minded audiences taking interest and action.
Is your product or service something people search for? If so, Google Ads marketing using search is a far better spend when done right. This is more of a reactive approach to a need that is already blatant and pressing (your ads are appearing directly after someone has specifically searched for results in Google.)
From there, just as you would social ads, monitor Google ad analytics and referral traffic sources. See where you are gaining the most traction and action. Double down on the successful ones, improve or ditch the ones that aren’t and naturally, look at demographics on your site, as well as, make sure you are using the right tone in your posts/pages.
Ultimately, it is up to you to choose how and where you will market your business. If we can help you navigate the most promising return on your budget and time spent doing so, we are always honored. Our consultations are complimentary and the advice is always free. Set up a call with us to talk about all things ad-related and we are happy to share insights and guidance on what we feel would be best for your business and bottom line.