It appears we have entered the late stages of social media adaptation. Each business and organization wants to be in the social media marketing “game”. Social media today is not a question of IF, but a question of HOW MUCH. It does not matter if you’re an online shop for toys or a hedge fund investor – you have to have your social media presence and rock at it as well!
As a strategist, this both irks me and sends shivers down my spine. It irks me because social media does not represent a strategy in and of itself, and it sends shivers down my spine because business owners are following a market (and a cultural) impulse without realizing what they are getting themselves into.
Today, social media is displaying the symptoms of market saturation and many late-adopters are getting cluelessly into the game that’s been actively going for more than a decade.
Facebook has started losing its youth appeal as early as 2013 and today is recognized as the “social network for boomers”. Instagram has lost all its validity with its out-of-touch influencer and #wonderlust culture and has recently become a jumbled mess. LinkedIn is basically “Facebook for work stuff” and is littered with random posts like Chinese children bouncing basketballs (this should signify teamwork by the way).
Despite the increasing “uncoolness” of social networks, these companies are not what they used to be in terms of reach, engagement and return on investment. Organic reach can comfortably be pronounced as dead and social media’s greedy “ads upon ads upon ads” strategy will make sure that your ad will is less likely to be seen. If engagement with the social platforms themselves is in decline overall, what makes business owners think that it is a good idea to invest into a social media strategy / marketing by default?
Don’t get me wrong, having a social media marketing strategy is not a terrible idea in and of itself, but businesses and organizations have to be able to connect the dots between their industry, brand identity and most importantly, their audience. The problem is, they usually don’t.
To prove my point, let’s reflect about how many abandoned and social media business profiles / pages are in the world right now? Millions? Tens of millions? To be honest, one is already one too many because for a small business, investing time and resources in social media can be a matter of life and death. This circles back to my initial point that businesses aren’t aware of what they are getting into. Owners initially consider social media to be easy and a secure investment. (Un)fortunately, they get disillusioned very quickly.
To close off, here are some strategic questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you should invest in a social media strategy:
- How do customers usually hear about your business?
- How are your (potential) customers using social media, and what do they use it for?
- Are you offering mass-market products or services that are accessible and easy to understand or are they complex, expensive, technical and/or highly-specialized?
- Is your product or service unique and highly personalized? Does it depend on forming close relationships with clients?
- How would your sales funnel look like within your social media strategy? How will you generate and convert qualified leads with social media?
- What are the marketing or sales channels that currently work for you? Would they perform better if you invested more resources in them instead of developing new ones?
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