The year is 2018. Maybe you’re going it alone, in the early stages of setting up your business. Or perhaps you’re the marketing director of an established company, looking to expand your target audience. Either way, you’ve decided to turn your focus to Social Media Marketing. That’s the next logical step, right?
SMM has arguably been the most important force in marketing over the last decade.
Ten years ago, no-one could have predicted the impact that advertising on social media would have – between helping small businesses grow and influencing massive political campaigns, there is no doubt that social media marketing has been a force to be reckoned with. But has it had its day?
Are Social Media Platforms Still Working for Businesses?
Back in 2008, Facebook advertising was essentially a free-for-all. The platform’s popularity was on the rise and with more people came more people’s data. Little did we know the waves that this would create in the advertising world.
In the ten years since, businesses have been taking advantage of how much Facebook knows about its users by utilizing the sites targeted advertising service.
Think of it this way – if you were to build a massive billboard in a city centre, you might have thousands of people seeing it each day. But how many are interested? Facebook knows what its users are interested in, so it can make sure your advertisement appears in from of people who have shown an interest related to your product or service.
But that was then, and this is now.
In the time since, Facebook has introduced and constantly tinkered with the algorithms which allow ads to be shown in their users’ news feed. The result? The cost of Facebook ads has consistently risen since, yet organic reach has been shrinking for years.
Moreover, a quick stat-check reveals that younger users especially are abandoning the platform in favour of more private and fast-paced social networks such as SnapChat and Instagram. After all, who wants to see their mum on social media? And more importantly – has Facebook advertising had its day?
Not Enough Traction to Go it Alone
The rise of SMM such as Facebook and Instagram advertising has been such a rush for marketers that traditional methods of digital marketing have somewhat fallen out of favour. Is SEO still important? And who reads emails these days?
Well, here’s a newsflash for you: A study by McKinsey & Co has found that email marketing can be up to forty percent more effective than its social media counterparts. It showed that the buying process typically happens three times faster than on social media.
The lesson? No digital marketing campaign is an island. If you’re considering ditching the old techniques in favour of SMM then it might be time for a rethink – social media marketing should only make up part of your campaign, alongside some of the more classic digital marketing techniques.
Ultimately this means that a truly effective online marketing campaign is holistic. In other words, if your social media marketing isn’t bringing results, your first port of call should be to combine it with SEO, influencer marketing and email campaigns – instead of throwing more money into it!
And What About New Platforms?
Furthermore, as the years roll by an influx of new social media networks has cascaded upon us. Take Telegram, one of the latest free-messenger apps which is currently on the rise.
As the big networks struggle to maintain their monopoly, we are already beginning to see a rise in alternatives. In fact, a new type of platform is gaining momentum, especially amongst younger generations – faster ways to chat and send photos to groups such as SnapChat and more recently, Telegram, are snapping up their share of the market.
Initially only available on Apple, Telegram has spread to Android relatively recently; owner Paul Durov claims it is ‘faster and safer’ than its competitors. The app now boasts more than 100 million users per month, sending 15 billion messages per day.
Durov claims that his ‘Telegrammers’ are more engaged than users of WhatsApp (a similar but more established platform) – despite having 10 times as many users as Telegram, only three times more WhatsApp messages are sent per day.
With Zuckerberg admitting that Facebook has somewhat dropped the ball on protecting users’ privacy recently, it seems likely that users may begin to turn to other means to communicate.
So, What Does This Mean for Me?
It’s an interesting time for Social Media Marketing. Whilst there is a sense that the core power of SMM could be changing hands rapidly, to claim that it’s been killed off is maybe a little… premature?
However, there is good reason to be wary. Hedging your bets by employing different digital advertising techniques is increasingly important in a turbulent market, and cautious experimentation is sometimes the best way to find out what works for you.
Furthermore, as the dynamic shifts, newer platforms offer opportunities for the technology-savvy to jump on board and get their hands on new target markets before the competition.
So whilst we wouldn’t recommend jumping ship completely, keep a weather eye on the horizon – as the times are quickly changing in the world of social media marketing.