Without a doubt, social media has changed the way we live in the world. It has become a tool for us to meet new people, access information and demand political change in this day and age.
Did you know that social media platforms are used by one-in-three people in the world and by more than two-thirds of all internet users? That’s a lot of active users!
Social media’s influence amongst the world’s internet users is undeniable. So yes – while it’s true that social media may rule the internet and our social lives, our question is, is social media is king for businesses when it comes to online marketing?
Not quite. While social media is still an undeniable part of the modern marketing mix, it’s important to understand that it isn’t the whole picture. So, use social smart but don’t get caught up in the hype! Here are 3 reasons why social media will never rule the internet marketing game.
1. Believe It or Not, Your Ideal Audience May Not Even Be on Social
Just like no two businesses are a carbon copy of one another, no two audiences are either. So before investing your time and money into social media, it’s important to take a look at who your target audience really is and where they spend their time online. That way, you can allocate your resources in a way that makes the most sense to you and your business.
Because though one-in-three people are on social media, what happens to the other two?! Even though social media has become a popular place to be over the years, the social media landscape has become much more complex than it was 5 years ago. Sure, your target audience may be on social, but on what channels? What are the predominant demographics and psychographics that make up those channels? And most importantly, how do these people prefer to engage with brands?
For example, Reddit is a common place to find young, educated men discussing things that matter most to them. But do these people like to be engaged with by brands on Reddit? Not at all! Reddit is a notoriously difficult place for brands to engage with others, to the point of declaring outright that Reddit hates marketing. On the other hand, for overall level of brand engagement, Instagram is the number one place to be.
But what happens if the target audience you’re hoping to reach is on the older and wealthier side? Then advertising in newspapers, magazines or even television may get you better results than anything social media could ever offer! And if you have the budget for it, then a 360 marketing campaign (which uses social but isn’t dependent on social) may be the way to go!
As for the bottom line – there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Study your audience, know where they live online and develop a marketing strategy that’s right for your business and audience.
2. Being Conversational & Relatable Takes Precedence Above Selling
While it’s true that some businesses have found success with selling their products on social media via social selling, the fact of the matter is that for most businesses, finding buyers on social can be a hard sell.
Though this comes with good reasoning. For one, people’s motivations around why they use social media rarely have to do with wanting to seek out products or services to buy. More often than not, people go on social to discover something novel or interesting. They may want to catch up with people who are in their close network, learn something new or may just want to have a fun conversation!
When brands understand this key point, the name of the social media game often shifts away from direct response to more brand awareness-based efforts. Above all, businesses who use social media as a way to showcase their brand and its voice, values and personality have a better chance at making a positive lasting impression (as opposed to someone who punched right and went for the hard sell).
This doesn’t mean that you can’t find successful conversions from traffic generated from social. The key is that, again, it isn’t the whole picture. When you warm up your audience this way, post after post, they get to know you a little better. And once they get to know you a little better, they are in a much better position to hear your pitch (and take out their wallet). But of course, a foundation of trust should be a key component of your social media strategy, and a big part of that trust-building strategy is having a clearly defined brand so that your business comes off as much more personable, likeable, conversational and relatable.
3. You’ve Got Your Audience’s Attention! Now What?
There is a 3-second window that marketers have in order to get their message across to their audience – 3 seconds! We’re all desperately fighting for the same thing, and statistically speaking, eventually we’ll break through the noise and captivate our audience’s attention (hurrah!)
But then… what happens next? People click aaaand – is your website optimized for mobile? Is it optimized for conversions? Do you have an engaging offer? Are you picking up the conversation where it left off? Are you telling an engaging story?
The truth is, we’re all so desperate for our audience’s attention that once we finally get it, it can be easy to overlook the obvious like how to sustain the interest and engineer an experience that inspires people to take the right type of action.
Ultimately, with so many moving parts that go into successful social media use for businesses, a key take away is that social media should be a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. Social media is not a business model, it’s one important part of an overall marketing mix you have at your disposal as a business owner. Sure, it may be an important pillar within your overall business strategy, but if organic social media is the only type of online marketing you’re doing, then you may need to step back and take another look at your strategy.
Pro tip! Having your social media followers subscribe to your email list, via your newsletter or content offer, gives you the most control over your social media following as a business owner – take control of your destiny!
Social Media May Rule Our Lives, but It Doesn’t Rule the Online Marketing Game!
If you’re not pulling out your phones and checking your account to scroll through your feed on the daily, then you are very much a minority. Most of us are entangled in the social media world whether we like it or not. Whether it’s for discovering news, trends or finding the latest meme, there’s no denying the power social has in our lives – online and off.
But when it comes to social media for businesses and how much weight you should give this tool when it comes to your overall marketing strategy, it’s important to put things into perspective. Social is not the be all end all like some people believe it is. It should always be seen as a means to an end when it comes to your business and not an end in and of itself. Considering how you’ll supplement your social strategy and seeing how it fits into the overall big picture of your business will be critical for your success if you want to get the most out of this very powerful tool.