Social Media...great! What's next?
When one talks about marketing, by default, social media becomes part of the discussion. But when social media drives everyone into a popularity contest, marketing is the loser of the game.
What used to be a platform to share achievements and useful information has become a world of influencers where politicians, influencer groups and companies compete for the spotlight of a fraction of a second during the scrolling of posts by users.
If you are using social media as your primary marketing tool, then you are in for a shock as being successful on social media is like trying to add an extra bright light into the Milky Way and hope that someone thinks it is a star.
The typical popularity contest success criteria could look like this:
- Everybody knows me (or my product) so I am successful because I have many followers
- Many “Likes” = more business
- It is not about the quality of my posts, it is about how many I create
In my article “Social Media? Privacy? Embark on the next marketing wave” published in May 2019, I did mention that we are now reaching 500 millions tweets and day and 510,000 comments per minute on Facebook. At anytime when I open the few social media platforms I am a member of, I can scroll pages of posts published since my last visit, probably missing the one that you might have launched (sometimes for a fee) with the hope of reaching out to me. Hootsuite published a set of statistics about Instagram in March 2019 in which one caught my attention: Users “like” 4.2 billion posts per day and, at the time of this statistic, Instagram had “only” 500 million users. That’s an average of 8 likes/day per user out of 95 million posts issued on that same day (I assume each “like” is a post) !!
Let’s continue down the list of statistics:
Instagram has 25 million business profiles and 200 million users visit at least 1 business profile per day.
Let’s assume that each user’s visit is to a different business, meaning there are 200 million business profile visits per day for 25 million business profiles so do the math: that’s 8 visits per day per business profile.... in a 24 hours period (internet runs 24/7) so it is one (1) visit every 3 hours. This includes the clicks like “what is this business about?”, ‘Is there a sale right now?” or “I really want this stuff, where can I buy it?”.
Many businesses are indeed on social media but very few have been able to make a real money success out of it. It is almost like: “I have a website!”. Everyone does.
In my same article, I had highlighted an article by Forbes stating that only 25% of companies say that social media has made a quantitative impact on their business.
The truth: Social media needs your business! Revenue from advertising is really what keeps them alive. Based on a recent article in Feedough.com, Instagram’s business model relies on sponsored posts that will bring your information on top and link it to your site or to an action you wish the user to be enticed to.
Back to the success factors of the popularity contest: followers and “Likes” are great measurements of visibility but it takes a lot of effort to stand up in competition with sensational news, cute animal videos and all the other distraction that social media has created for marketing. The popularity contest of viral videos is real but it is rarely linked to a commercial ad or a specific marketing campaign. Most viral videos are linked to funny or sensational situations that are seen and shared by many in a short amount of time. Of course, we all aspire of a campaign going viral (without involving a bad joke or questionable, non ethical content) but the chances are really so slim that I really wonder if the good days of social media being used for marketing purposes are still there.
Making this work
For social media to work for you, you need to build that incredible follower base and, that means, having a plan about how to use the channels Do not forget that those channels are becoming incredibly crowded and the “view” time you have from your audience is of a fraction of a second (at best) to open the door and for your message to be received. Here are the channels I think are still good to use, depending on what you wish to communicate:
Professional network driving access to the Baby Boomers, Generation Jones (Boomers II) and Generation X. Targets mature audiences focused on achievement and career or even post-career (for the Baby Boomers). Now in the hands of Microsoft, LinkedIn aims to link your day to day work contacts with social media. It is a great platform for showing new products, advertise your attendance at events and focus on networks based on the type of professional activity you wish to target.
One of the high runners, like LinkedIn, touching more mature professional audience circles (Generation jones and Generation X) than into the private ones, although this concept is changing as more politicians use this channel as a press announcement channel. I like to use Twitter for instant information such as “Next great product announcement in 30 minutes on stand B” as it is also used by channels like emergency services to push instant notifications to the audiences. Tagging is important on all social media channels but I always feel that tagging on Twitter brings more.
One of the oldest (and largest) of the social media, Facebook started with moms showing what they were doing with their kids and has become a controversial platform with all generations under its roof. Facebook keeps looking at new ways to keep it audience engaged (with the new attempt of their new cryptocurrency - Libra). It has been plagued with many questions about security and ethics. Personally, I am not using it, as I would add just a small voice in the middle of millions. To me, Facebook is like the web, you can find all: the good, the bad and the ugly.
The foster child of Facebook, touching Generation X, Milleniums and early Generation Z (born mid-90s), Instagram is closely following Facebook with a stronger focus on video and image media. It is where viral videos come to life and where advertising really makes it mark. Instagram is great for product pre-launches, event advertising and sales promotions.
What’s the next step
In the same way as having a website was considered a novelty to make a difference into the market, social media has been one of those channels that was a novelty a few years ago (remember, Facebook is “only” 15 years old) and is now at the peak of its usage. It is becoming so crowded that new ideas for marketing promotion must come into the hands of the users to make a stronger differentiation impact.
Generations Y (Milleniums) and Z are born with smartphones “in their hands” and they are becoming selective on what to use them for as they realise that they are a possible addition. Those generations use technology to enhance their lives rather than a companion for communication.
I am convinced that Augmented Reality (AR) in combination with Artificial Intelligence (AI) running on dedicated Apps on the smartphone are the ones that will come next to make a statement about how to position products into the hands of customers. The time of scrolling down pages of posts will disappear and be replaced by targeted announcements that will pop on people’s screens at the appropriate time of need rather than at the time of publication. This more targeted and time managed approach of sharing the selected information will help drive the attention of the consumer and attempt to respond to the need of the moment.
Are you in the business for new ideas about how to position your product or services? Are AR and AI on your radar but you are not sure how to use them? Join the conversation and share your views.
About the writer: Flavio Stiffan is a business development specialist with focus on creating market expansion strategies supported by academia programs. He has implemented and managed alliance networks and is at the core of academia relationship management with a network of over 130 universities and 300 technology companies and distributors. For more articles, visit www.stiffan.eu or check out his profile on LinkedIn.
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