Just like there's no crying in baseball.
Social media marketing just became more difficult. With articles/blog posts flying around from Forrester, Fast Company and the Wall Street Journal, everyone has an opinion about using social media to market your business/product and why it may be a waste of money and time. Here's my opinion, because hey, it's my blog, the perfect spot for my opinions.
What it all boils down to is that we're circling back to the way things were before social media, when traditional marketing channels were over saturated. We had to get creative with how we broke through the noise & clutter of our competition and consumer interests outside of our own industry. Abandoning social media, cutting out the spend in both time & money, may seem like a great decision, but to me, it's a cop out. It's showing that we are caving in the face of difficult marketing challenges. NOW is the time to rise up and show off our creative chops. Being relevant and timely is what we're striving for in social, understanding our consumer so ridiculously well that they are the ones who want to be a part of our community, without us begging (aka paying) to get them. We must find out about them, our target consumer, so they can spread the word about us to their network.
This all goes back to having a solid marketing mix. If your goal is to build your email list, use every tool you have to do so, and to me, this includes Facebook & Twitter. I agree that we're swinging pay-to-play on an increasing number of channels, but that doesn't mean leave them behind. It means be smart with your marketing budget and leverage what you can on the platforms that make sense for your brand. This is why I'm a huge proponent of marketing managers absorbing social media strategy & execution.
When should you abandon social channels? When your consumer is not there. If you know that the majority of your consumers are, say, females between 30-35, why exactly wouldn't you be on Pinterest? Go where your consumers ARE.
Branded Communities: Something else that comes up in these articles is the mention of and encouragement to starting your OWN community. They reference brands like PlayStation and Red Bull. I can think of a few myself who have done well in this arena. What do brands like that have that a lot of companies don't? MONEY. PEOPLE. VENDORS. UBIQUITOUS BRAND RECOGNITION. If you build it, they will not come. You must build it, advertise it, get press about it, advertise it some more, incentivize consumers, incentivize some more, gameify it, advertise that you're incentivizing it, oh and ensure that the user experience is top notch. This is a lot for the small to medium-sized brand to take on. Probably too much.
What do you have, Mr. & Mrs. Small- to Medium-Sized Business? You have access to platforms where there are millions of people. You can spend limited budget and (wo)man-hours to make the most of these channels where consumers already are. You can understand your consumer so well that regardless of platform, your consumers want to talk to you. THAT is your goal.
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Other great articles on Facebook's algorithm change and taking a step back to look at your social media marketing: