Is Social Media Marketing Dead or Are Reports of Its Demise Premature?

time spend on social media

The world as we know changed massively over the last few decades, and just as we thought we wore making sense of it, the rules changed again. Social media for businesses is not what it once was and your social media marketing strategy must change with the times. Is social media marketing dead, as some predict? I would argue that social media marketing isn’t dead but you may be doing it wrong if you’re not seeing adequate results.

Supporting my statement, the following image shows the massive growth (62+%) in time spent on social media between 2012 and 2019. Most studies suggest this number continues to grow.

time spend on social media
Image courtesy of Broadband Search

Is social media marketing dead?

In a word, NO!

Sure, your market may have shifted to a different platform so you’re seeing less impact from your social media marketing efforts. For instance, younger consumers (Gen Z) are giving up on Facebook in favor of newer platforms such as TikTok and Instagram Reels. Meanwhile, Facebook’s growth among their parents and older siblings continues to grow, as does growth outside the US. YouTube continues to attract a wide swath of consumers with younger consumers (Gen Z and younger kids) preferring that platform to traditional television. Twitter continues to struggle while LinkedIn still struggles for screen time among even its core users.

While reports of the death of social media marketing are premature, you may still struggle to gain relevance with a stoggy social media marketing strategy or inept implementation of your strategy. Here are some suggestions to improve performance at your organization.

Know your market

This advice isn’t unique to social media marketing but it bears repeating–know your market. Then, develop a strategy that turns your market into customers and customers into repeat customers. That means knowing who’s using various social media platforms and how to reach users on these platforms. Below is some general information about the major social media platforms but your best chance of success is to listen to what users say on these platforms, brands they follow, what they like, and how they interact with brands. Then, craft content that matches these insights on a schedule that optimizes performance on that platform.

demographic differences across platforms

Get seen

Having your own social media page for a business is a great way to promote your products, however, it helps to get some other people who have mastered social media to help you out. Using an Influencer Marketplace to find the people who can promote your products or services is a vital part of using social media. This can help your product beat the algorithm and you gain more exposure for your business among likely buyers. Influencers are a form of advertising since most influencers require a fee or in-kind payment but they can help you achieve more organic interest than a paid ad can.

Engagement is really the name of the game in social media and most folks who think social media marketing is dead don’t achieve much engagement. Engagement not only amplifies your message to new users (users who likely share common interests, demographics, and geography with those who engage with your brand) but acts as tacit endorsements of your products. You achieve engagement when you post content that’s interesting, entertaining, or informative and when that content fits the platform where you share the content (ie. don’t use hashtags on Facebook). Posting at the right time also matters on some platforms (especially Twitter), while understanding search and the platform’s algorithm are critical for success on most platforms.

Numbers matter

It doesn’t matter what people say, the number of contacts on your social media page matters, just maybe not in the way you think. Getting follower numbers is not just about being popular, it is about showing the world that you are a trusted brand that people can count on. Although Gary Vaynerchuk, a major social media expert, argues quite eloquently that only influence counts, not follower numbers. Here’s exactly what he says:

When you post something and it gets zero engagement, those followers have zero value because (1) they either don’t care about your content or (2) they’re not real. Either way, your follower count does not represent their real value to you.

Higher follower counts do represent potential but you only gain value from your followers when you post content that engages them and, ultimately, helps convert them.

Traditional ads

In our first point, we talked about how influencers are a form of advertising, but there are other forms too. Buying ad space on social media is a money pit unless you know what you’re doing, measure and analyze your results, then tweak your ads to optimize performance. The primary value of social media advertising is the control you get over who sees your ad.

For instance, a Super Bowl ad costs upwards of $5.6 million for a 30-second spot. Sure, you reach 100 million viewers between TV and digital watchers and that’s only $56,000 per viewer. That’s great if you’re Pepsi and most of those 100 million viewers consume cola products at least occasionally. But, it’s a disaster if you sell a niche product with a smaller consumer base. If only 10% of Super Bowl viewers are in your target market (or buy for people in your target market), it costs you $560,000 per viewer that’s a potential customer.

On social platforms, you can reach just your target market by selectively showing your ad to users based on demographic, geographic, and even lifestyle and interest variables. You can selectively show your ad just to users who visited your website, attended a virtual event on the platform, or are friends of those who engage with your brand in some way. And, that’s powerful.

Conclusion

Is social media marketing dead? Far from it. Of course, using social media to promote your business is a bit of a mixed bag of results and we don’t expect that this to change anytime soon. But, you can optimize your performance by following the tips shared above. With thoughtful planning, effective execution, and monitoring of your results, you can optimize performance and gain revenue from your social media marketing efforts.

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