Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Is Social Media Marketing Dying?

And once again the debate has begun. Is Social Media Marketing Dead? Is it dying? How does it affect you as a Marketing professional or Business owner?

Josh Bernoff, co-author of Groundswell, the bestselling book on the topic, says in his recent blog 'Social Media is just mostly dead'.  Augie Ray (founder of Experience: The Blog) wrote a post 'Burn It Down, Start From Scratch And Build a Social Media Strategy That Works'. Jamie Turner followed these with a post 'The end of social media as you know it.'

So what is the answer? Is it dead or mostly dead or dying? and what should you do? Do you need to scrap your Social Media Marketing efforts?

The answer actually is simple. Social media by itself is not dead or dying. Social Media is actually growing. What is happening however, is that a lot of Businesses, Marketing professionals and Agencies are realizing that what they are doing on social media is not working.

While some of that has to do with the changes happening on social media platforms itself (e.g the throttling of organic reach of Brand posts on Facebook), a lot of it has to do with what a lot of businesses have been doing on social media so far. In some ways it is like this toon from getsatisfaction.com
Over the past few years any & every business, got onto the Social media Bandwagon. B2B, B2C, small home based businesses to large corporate houses all got Facebook pages, and had Twitter company accounts and LinkedIn pages and also Pinterest Boards and Instagram accounts. They were all posting multiple times a day on multiple platforms and collecting Likes, Followers, and Shares and doing anything to generate Comments (including funny cat videos and beautiful sunsets with quotes on them). While some activity on some platforms worked for some businesses, most efforts went wasted. Why? Because likes is not equal to sales leads and shares for a photo is not the same as referrals for the brand and comments on a generic  quote is not brand engagement.
Are all social media platforms the same? Do you post your personal photos of the Friday party with friends on LinkedIn? or Offer coupons to your target audience in your Television commercial? Of course you don't. You know what social media to use for personal posts and similarly what traditional media to use for your business marketing.  Then why not use the same common sense when using social media for marketing? While audiences at times may be common across multiple platforms, what they do on each platform is different. And that's what businesses have to do also.

So the problem is not with social media but the why, what, when & where of social media marketing. And as I had written last year, in my blog post 'Does Social Media Work' - Social Media does not work. You have to make it work.

What is most important is to have a Strategy - Know what you are doing - for whom, where and why. From acquiring new customers, to getting repeat orders from existing customers, from branding to product sales, from solving customer issues to engaging loyal users and more, Social media can be used for multiple things. However what channel you use for what, depends on your business, your target audience and what you want to achieve.

For a B2B business, LinkedIn and Twitter may work better to connect with businesses and engage with them. For a fashion or lifestyle business, Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook may work better to engage with customers while LinkedIn may work better for recruitment. Customers of Commercial Airlines or Telecom or E-commerce companies, may want to engage with the business more on Facebook, Twitter or even a messaging platform like WhatsApp instead of calling their Call center.

Also some other digital marketing solution may actually work better for a particular business to achieve its objective. Do you want to attract more new customers? For a particular business or brand it is possible that Search marketing or mobile marketing may work better than Social. Do you want to get repeat customers? It is possible that email along with engagement platforms like some specific social channels and messaging platforms may work better for you.
What to do where, starts from why do it, and depends on the business & the target audience. Know what the channel is capable of, who is there and use the most appropriate channel or a mix of channels & activities for each objective and then do the right things there. Then let marketing handle all marketing advertising handle all advertising and CRM handle all customer issues, and the related channels. Don't just bundle all digital activities, from SEO to Social to SEM and E-Commerce and hand it over to a particular department or agency. Don't just be there for the sake of being there.

Build a strategy first. Social is a part of Digital and always evolving. Evolve & Grow with it. And most importantly to really succeed  - Don't just Do Digital, Be Digital.

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