Remember the heady days of Facebook marketing when you could post any old tripe…and bam, you’d hit millions of users in the click of a ‘post’ button?
Those were the days we say, but actually I’m a lot more excited about social media marketing these days. We turned our back and suddenly companies like Facebook started ruling the world. Scary, yes but it makes for some interesting changes to the way we do social…
Organic is dead and I don’t miss it…
Okay, so the elephant in the room is that in the old days of Facebook it was ‘free’ reach and now it’s undeniably pay to play. But I’d argue the benefits of that outweigh the cost – the height of organic social meant that you’d pump out content to mostly people that already like your page so are likely already buying your product (maybe you’ll get them to up their frequency of purchase) but few brands strive for that alone. And reaching non-buying consumers ‘virally’? Well, unless you’re one of the lucky brands that has a target market of…everyone you’re unlikely to be hitting exactly who you want – seems a bit pointless paying an agency to create content and community manage when it’s not even getting under the right noses.
Plus the targeting that informs paid advertising is even more powerful than we’ve seen before. This of course comes with great consequence (*cough* Trump and Brexit) however for advertisers it is a pivot in the industry… want to target someone who came back from holiday 1 week ago? (tick) or how about people that have dog insurance? (yup, you can target that too – tick). It’s true that since the Cambridge Analytica scandal a lot of partner data has been removed but even then Facebook is leagues ahead of most media platforms in terms of the ability to target and is even creeping up alongside PPC for acquisition effectiveness.
Still pining over organic now? Much better to plan a strategy to deliver high quality content to exactly the right people at the most effective frequency through paid media, like it’s real advertising…
TV & social – the new power couple
Which brings me onto my next point – advertisers are starting to take it nearly as seriously as TV! TV has been the Holy Grail for most brands since Mad Men days. There’s no denying its effectiveness and justified place in the marketing plan (I won’t be making any outlandish statements like TV is dead, because it’s not, it’s just different however that’s another blog post). But remember the days when social was the afterthought? For many brands, social now sits very closely to TV in importance and is a prerequisite, not a project you give the marketing grad to keep them busy. And it becomes even more important when you plan it alongside your marketing activity – consider how you can increase frequency, build incremental reach (especially relevant for younger audiences) & extend your ATL messaging then you’ll see how potent it becomes.
How social is your social?
One of the things I hear time and time again in the industry about social is engagement, and it’s one of my biggest bugbears. There’s a big difference between physical engagements (people liking & reacting to your posts) and engaging with your brand – they shouldn’t be confused. Facebook’s party line on physical engagements is they don’t mean much. Some people are ‘clicky’ and some are not, and it’s not related to the impact of your content. However consumers mentally engaging with your brand is different, and I have a lot of time for that.
We live in a world where brand is becoming more and more important (and difficult). Consumers are faced with endless options that are great quality and cheap (hence the success of Aldi) so how can brands even start to compete? Well, meaning something more than a logo and packaging is a great place to start, and social allows us to connect & engage consumers beyond shouting at them through a broadcast medium. Brands can give back – ultimately creating those emotional connections which subconsciously get remembered by consumers when trying to navigate an overwhelming supermarket shelf.
The final word
And, even though I’m cynical about the original benefits of organic reach there are still newer options to explore in Facebook – we’re starting to see users become more au fait with Messenger bots; some brands are already delivering great customer service and content experiences. Similarly Groups have taken off with lots of consumers actively engaging in branded spaces. But as any good agency will tell you – organic doesn’t mean free. Investing in good content and community management shouldn’t be skimped on even if you’re not paying for the reach.
Finally, my favourite thing about social? It’s a much needed reality check for marketers. Too long we lived in a world where were could ignorantly presume what our audiences wanted, and whether they liked it. Not anymore – masses of consumers get to call us on any shoddy attempts at stereotyping and irrelevant creative. We should be grateful for that though, we should always be thinking outside the marketing bubble.