Social Media Performance Sends Warning Signals
A trend is happening in digital marketing. It appears social media lead generation performance is weakening and the trend may steepen.
This is in addition to the shrinking visibility of posts to connections whether in Linkedin, Facebook, or Twitter. These companies are trying to squeeze users for more paid placements and the pay to play theme now is oppressive. It’s ruing the social media experience and making it ineffective with respect to businesses.
Given the social companies act as an oligopoly, there are few ways to bring fairness and ethics back into it. More marketers are beginning to look beyond the social media tech monopolies for a better, more sustainable way to keep in touch with customers.
Dealing with the Social Company’s Rackets
Marketers have to respond to the weakening performance in reach and cost. And the warning signals have been around for ages as Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin have been adjusting their newsfeed filters and algorithms to limit the audience each account holder can reach. The more they tighten the screws (monopoly advantage) the lower the reach for marketers.
With paid clicks, the cost is rising ridiculously. Social media isn’t like Google. Social media users are generally not searching for anything specific. Often, they’re bored and engaging with family members, which is not really a good launch pad for your brand experience.
Social media then produces weaker and fewer leads and cost per lead rises too high.
Typically social media is about friends and associates. That might sound like an inviting atmosphere, but it’s not great for bigger companies. However, I do know of solo professionals using their FB accounts well to nurture customers and generate word of mouth sales. Still, mass engagement of social media users is a big challenge and few have the time or tools to make it work well for a mid-sized firm.
Businesses need to reach high volumes of relevant, new connections (via your excellent content). That’s why advanced SEO and using your brilliant blog content should be the core of your digital marketing efforts. And there are alternatives to social media marketing which we’ll discuss below. First, we need to ween you away from social media.
Businesses Forced to Not be Themselves
In fact, you almost have to contort everything to fit into the socialmediaverse. In doing so, you almost always trivialize your real values and obscure your brand image. Of course, social media wasn’t designed for business. Social media sites of the future might make us do more even more ridiculous things to look relevant there.
It’s my opinion that getting past the social sites and returning to authentic marketing that focuses totally on your company and your genuine value proposition is a better way to go.
This doesn’t mean total rejection of social sites. It just that social should be a minor element in your promotional activities. By diminishing it, you’re putting time and money where it generates better long lasting results — impacting, engaging, nurturing, and keeping customers loyal.
And the cost of social media advertising is no doubt causing you to improve your digital marketing efforts. That cost will grow, so finding an alternative and moving beyond them is wise. As you’ll see below, it’s expensive and performance is decreasing.
Social Sites are only Interested in Leveraging You
In fact, on Facebook and Twitter, it’s worse because your top competitors are more likely to come out shining, thus making your brand look second class. Every exposure to your connections and audience seems to make it worse. And if the banter is of a novice, uneducated level, is it wise to have your brand in that conversation? Dangers lurk.
Social sites want you to create connections via any medium, and then bring them onto their platform so they can exploit you and them. Yet, it’s your content/topics/perspective which creates new connections on these platforms. That’s not the way the social monopolies want it to go.
These sites are all built on the “make them pay to build connections and reach through advertising” business model. That’s the power of monopoly. With cost effectiveness dropping, it’s time to build alternatives.
Most Business People are Really not Interested
The truth is, few of your complete target audience have the time or inclination to engage in small talk or issues that aren’t really relevant to them. That’s why many business pros don’t get involved in social media. And much of what is popular or goes viral is not often something you want associate with your brand or company reputation. Many of my contacts (professionals too) show selfies wearing not much more than their underwear (way too much information). That’s the problem with trying too hard.
There are times when you have to let go. And letting up on social for other channels is perhaps a wise choice.
There are business pros who use it strongly and perhaps well to push a product or service that no is asking for (coaching, sales and life coaching, and special deals). If you’re comfortable being the Tony Robbins of your industry, well go for it, otherwise, it likely won’t suit you.
How Low Will Your Conversion Rates Go?
Why the talk about conversion rates? Because Facebook/Twitter are the worst performers. And more competition, more squeeze from social sites means conversion rates can only go lower. The last thing Google ads and Facebook ads wants is a fast sales. They would rather consumers bounced back to their platforms for more searching and clicking. That creates billions for them.
Wordstream’s Larry Kim discusses paid ad rates and cost per action. And cost per action is but a small part of the total cost of a sales conversion. These are older stats so the 2022 version is likely much less rosy.
Adespresso offers some amazingly detailed stats on cost per click and cost per like on social.
Massimo Chieruzzi of Adespresso ads this chart in his discussion revealing the downtrend in cost effectiveness of Google and Facebook ads.
Ruler Analytics shows conversion rates by industry.
Marketing Charts show cost per lead back 5 years ago.
CMI shows marketers pain points — quality of leads, reach frustration, and conversion performance.
As conversion rates drop, marketers are under pressure to work harder and do more to squeeze out weakening sales and revenue – to a point of final exhaustion. The blame is always on the marketer, but after all the tips, techniques and tactics, the conversion rates don’t rise much.
The Future of Social Media
The best view of that future comes from the behavior of Mark Zuckerberg who is skewing his platform to virtual reality. It’s been a huge failure and the Facebook Meta software has taken a dive. Similarly, Twitter engages in content censorship, and Facebook does too, and it’s inevitable they will face congressional action when the Republicans take office in 2023. That will be pay back time.
So the future, unrestrained profitability of the platforms may make it undesirable and of course the fines against them for breach of trust and monopoly infractions will ruin their brands.
Weakening Your Brand
It seems the harder you try on social media via posting or sharing, the weaker your voice becomes. But then, the social media companies algorithms cut your reach only to the same people day in and day out so how can it be any different?
When I see professionals who don’t use social media, I understand. And others simply set up a page, dress it up to look nice and leave it. Very understandable, because most users don’t use it much. Linkedin suffers badly (as a job hunter platform that could be more) as engagement on Linkedin is almost zero. However, posts do sometimes reach targets, and those targets are important people, so it’s wise to use Linkedin once in a while.
Clickthroughs and Leads
Clickthroughs are very hard to achieve unless you have a post that is spectacularly unique, newsworthy and compelling and you’re the first to report it. Leads and sales from social are so weak they’re not worth speaking of.
I know of a few finance pros who use social media very well, but it’s not easy to weld personal with business. Pressuring your personal life to fit in with business is risky.
Hard Work and Frustration
The potential of organic social media is severely limited and you have only your time and hard won customers to lose. And some will work hard on social media campaigns only to be disappointed.
The frustration from expecting social media to work, and the failure of campaigns to gain traction, means time and money are being wasted. Sure, you’ve heard some make bold claims that they’ve figured it out and are producing epic results. If you’re one of them, then please provide some specifics below in the comments, because it would be nice if there were some social-only powered successes.
And speaking of money, FB/Meta/Twitter/Instagram conspire to force you to do a paid boost of your post or conduct an ad campaign. So when marketers talk of social media success and leads generated, they’re actually talking about paid advertising leads. The free, organic side of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. sucks.
And I have to tell you that I have created some good results, such as a 1000x shared post, and I believe my social posts did power up a big SEO win 5 years ago. But that was then, and this is now.
Why Social Media Fails
- your target customers/prospects aren’t even using it
- engagement on social media is shallow and frivolous unless you have a serious engagement strategy and lots of time and good content to make it work
- your connections use it infrequently and may entirely miss your great post
- social platforms strictly limit exposure to your connections
- paid boosts don’t work well because the platforms targeting aren’t accurate enough (and with privacy regulations, they may not be able to identify good users)
- you may be posting on topics/issues that actually erode your hard built brand image
- your funds and energy can be put into other channels with better reach and results
One marketing expert discussing this topic points out that a clear marketing strategy through multiple channels isn’t happening. He also says greater effort isn’t being put into connections and engagement which is where the LTV value is.
These are good points, yet can such a powerful campaign be integrated and executed well via social media? It seems to be a gambit of using the weakest link in the chain and that’s a little awkward. Could the brand of social media actually damage the brand strategy and the experience the way you need it to feel? Are Facebook and Twitter’s brand strangling your brand?
Why Your Social Campaign Sucks
- it’s not serving your customer’s journey
- it can’t quite deliver the customer experience they desire
- you lack an overall, integrative strategy that powers up the whole, so the parts are strong
- not knowing who your social media audience is or whether they’re actually relevant and qualified
- posting without purpose
- your content presented or linked to really isn’t all that great or engaging
This final point has to be discussed too. If your value proposition is confusing and uncertain, and your content is low quality, then social users may find it even less useful. For instance, you can’t create a big social event or campaign and point everything to a homepage or a text blog post. Social users might be expecting something with video, or something equally compelling.
If fooling around with social media is causing you not to invest in content quality and production, content strategy and search engine optimization, then you’re undermining your success.
My client site’s have received about 500 to 1000 times the visitors from search engines and referrals than from social media sources.
I think social media has proven it takes too much time, creates too much trouble, erodes the brand more than helps it, and pulls in a low number of poorly qualified leads. It’s time to progress past it to the next generation of lead generation sources – search engines, PR, guest posts, and advertising.
Post Social Media Strategy
To build ongoing connectivity and real leads, you can:
- launch an email opt in campaign, or a newsletter campaign to keep in touch with them.
- hire an expert SEO and ensure strong visibility on Google because every customer uses Google for many reasons and wherever they’re searching, on relevant topics, your site should appear
- build out your blog as an exciting place to visit and comment on your content
- build out your blog with excellent, comprehensive and interesting content and share that via your social pages
- do some social ppc ads just to support the flow of traffic to your blog (leverage Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin)
- point your social media connections to your blog content
- hold webinars and events on your blog right in a page itself
- create a newsletter once a month with vital news, unique, helpful stats and opinions
- talk about customers pain and needs and encourage them to contact your directly for real direct answers and solutions — don’t let them beat around the bush or gripe on Facebook. Give them what they need.
- hold a contest on your blog and reward people for visiting
- offer free case studies, with interviews, and reviews of solutions in a pdf document
In your social media accounts, you should have the pages set up with pinned posts so it’s the first thing visitors see. That pinned content should take them to your very best landing page or your blog. Should your blog be the center of your digital marketing?
Mounting evidence of low conversion rates and bounces on marketing pages suggest the blog may be the only thing that can save you now. Your blog isn’t the lifeless FB or Twitter page. You can design it to present and include content that promotes your brand and services. FB and Twitter promote themselves.
Better Results through Advanced Content Strategy and SEO
Going beyond the average is necessary. It’s competitive out there and advanced content and advanced SEO together are a key part of moving beyond the social media straight jacket. If you’re a Realtor, check out the real estate marketing packages and if you manage a hotel, learn more about hotel SEO. Will the housing market crash? Well, let’s just say there’s going to be lots of homes for sale next year!
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