By Lauren | November 2, 2015 | 0 Comment
Politics, religion and money—three topics that are commonly known to be ones that you should avoid talking to people about. For a social media professional, the topic that I avoid talking about the most is the future of social media and online marketing. Why? Because for me it’s a topic I could argue about endlessly. Some people think social media is dead or dying, others think it’s on the rise and will only continue to grow in popularity. So what is the most accurate prediction of the two, or is there one?
When I was a college student three years ago, despite studying public relations and marketing, social media was hardly a part of the curriculum yet. Mainly because it was a new trend for businesses and we were still seeing the potential it held with businesses for advertising purposes. It was a fluke that when I graduated college I walked into my first role in the marketing industry and my job became heavily weighted towards social media and how the company could best use it.
I’m 25 years old and I grew up through the evolution of social media. When I was 14, Facebook was launched and I still remember it being a platform that you could only join if you had a university or college email address. I remember my friends and I all lying about our age and our emails to try and set up accounts. I remember peering over my friends shoulder as she showed me what this new “website” was all about and thinking, “This is stupid, why would you need this?” Now in 2015 Facebook has 1.49 billion active users—a 13% increase in just one year.
It’s evident that social media continues to grow and take the world (including the marketing world) by storm. We are seeing brands do bigger, better and more innovative things to stand out among the clutter, and were seeing a major shift on what consumers expect from these brands. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that consumers are turning to social media to voice their opinions (whether good or bad), to research products and services, and consumers not only want but expect a more personal experience with brands.
Despite the steady increase of users on social media networks, some people are still skeptical on whether or not social media—more specifically, social media marketing, is here to stay. With the clutter of advertising now bombarding these networks and taking away from their original purposes, consumers are getting annoyed. When users go on Facebook, they want to know what their friends are up to and sharing, they don’t want to know about a sale happening at the mall. Advertising is taking away from the personal experience social networks hold. So will consumers start acting out against these brands that are bombarding their personal space? Is there still a point in advertising to your target market online? The short answer—yes there is.
As a social media professional for the last three years, I’ve seen the evolution of social media. I’ve seen the growth in advertising, and I’ve seen the positive (and negative) effects advertising online can have. I’ve also seen several social media networks rise and fall, and several that are obviously here to stay (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). What I’ve learned is simple…
Consumers don’t want your sales pitch, but they also don’t want crappy content you are just producing for the sake of producing. One of the main reasons consumers (current and prospective) are going to follow you on social media is because you are posting interesting content—the last thing they want is a salesy ad five days a week appearing in their news feed. Show consumers that you are dedicated in helping them by creating interesting, thought provoking and informative content, as oppose to only wanting their money or sale. Content can help build trust and keep even the fans that have already bought into your brand happy.
In a survey of more than 3,000 consumers, more than 70% answered that they expect personalized experiences with brands they interact with. But what kind of personalized experiences are they looking for? Remembering how long you’ve been a customer, and remembering past purchases were just two ways they suggested, but all in all agreed that any personalization is a step in the right direction, especially among consumers aged 18-34. Consumers want brands to treat them like the humans they are and realize that customer service isn’t just an important aspect to in-store experiences.
If you’re going to advertise online, make sure you find and target your right demographic. There is nothing worse than a brand broadly targeting a group of people (Ex. All females in the world 18-65). Not only does this cause the consumer to get annoyed, but it also harms your brand image and proves to them that you don’t care if they fit into your broad mold, as long as you get the sale/lead. An example of this was on my LinkedIn feed when I started to get ads suggesting I freeze my eggs. First off, was LinkedIn the best place for an ad like this? Second off, I knowingly have never searched or shown interest in anything to do with my eggs, fertility or beyond.
So all in all…
Is social media dead? Definitely not, and there are a million stats out there to prove it.
Is social media advertising dead? Not dead, but without proper research and proper execution, it can do your brand more harm than good.
Does social media have a future? Yes, we just may not be able to predict exactly what this future is. Ten years ago if you asked someone if they saw Facebook as a good advertising platform—the answer would have been no!
Social media is a fast paced platform that’s always going to be changing. If you want to be on top of it, you have to be willing to learn, adapt and change in the blink of an eye.