Social Media is Dead?

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Well, FREE and impactful social media that is easy, quick, simple, and delivers an obscenely high ROI is dead.

Let’s look at Facebook organic reach (the number of people that see your posts without you spending any money to promote it).  Most of our clients experienced a dramatic decline in the last couple of years, from around 20% to 1-2%!  Of course, the first thing you should do is look at your own stats.

Lets look at this page, with around 3800 fans.   The top post has huge reach because we paid for it to be shown to a specific audience (it cost us just $55 to get that reach).

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So the paid post aside, you can see that reach is around 600 at the high end, and 50 at the low end.  That is 15% at the high end, and 1.3% at the low end.   Yes, that is really just 31 people of 3800 that Facebook showed this particular post to!

What do your own stats say?

But why?

There is now far more content being made than there is time to absorb it. On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.

Brian Boland, VP Advertising Technology Facebook

There is a massive amount of content shared by brands on Facebook, 3 million links are shared every hour on Facebook! Click To Tweet!  Can you imagine what your Facebook experience would be like if you were exposed to all of that, all the time?  Yes, Facebook is doing this for the user.  But, of course, that isn’t the only reason.

Facebook became a public company in 2012, and since then has been innovating and creating new income ideas to ensure it provides value to its shareholders.  Part of that innovation is one of the best online advertising platforms out there.  The drop in organic reach corresponds nicely to the increase in share prices for Facebook stock.  This chart documents October 2013 through to February 2014.  Facebook stock is now over $100 per share (December 2015), and average organic reach is now 2.6%.  So, to summarize, Facebook found a way to make money by throttling organic reach and forcing brands to use their paid platform to get their messages out.

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What about Twitter?  The other ‘big’ social media platform, widely adopted by brands globally.   Twitter has 320 million monthly active users (at Q3 2015).  As you can see, Twitter has a much smaller audience than Facebook, and has now also been eclipsed by Instagram.  Despite that, the perception exists that you “have to be on Twitter”.   We say, not necessarily, but that is a topic to be covered later.

Twitter engagement rates average 0.5%.

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Of course, at Socially Good we still LOVE social media.  It’s a two way communication tool that gives you direct access to the exact people you want to reach and engage with.  It’s the best listening platform out there.  BUT, it takes work, investment, strategy and commitment.

The lesson?  I’ll quote Socially Good favourite Scott Stratten of Unmarketing:

“If you build your house on rented land, sooner or later the rent will need to be paid.”

Long live email

In 2015, marketers stated that #emailmarketing delivers the highest ROI Click To Tweet In fact, for the last eight years, email marketing has consistently been cited by top marketers of having delivered the highest or the second highest ROI in comparison to other channels like mobile, content marketing, social media, direct marketing, search engine marketing and pay per click banners.  Check out the latest report from Adestra in the UK for the latest findings.

Fig.1 How do you rate the Email channel in terms of return on investment? (Results show Excellent or Good)

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Many marketers have been seduced by social media platforms, perceiving it to be not only “effective” but also “cooler” than email marketing. However, any successful marketer worth their salt will tell you that email must still remains a cornerstone of your strategy. In fact, many marketers are now refocusing their efforts on better email marketing.  Think about your website activities.  How often do you read a blog, visit an e-commerce site, or browse reviews and a pop up appears offering you the chance to keep in touch?

Not yet convinced? Then check out these three reasons why you should consider refocusing your marketing efforts to give as much focus to email as you do to social media, if not more.

Check out these 3 reasons to refocus marketing efforts on email. Click To Tweet
More effective compared to social media

Social media is a highly crucial ingredient in any business marketing strategy. It is a wonderful channel for interacting with your potential customers and improving your relationship with them. However, when it comes to converting your audience into supporters, customers or members, email marketing is definitely your best bet.   This 2015 study of marketing techniques shows that marketers themselves rate email well above social in terms of effective ROI and impact.

Action oriented

Email is an action orientated communication channel.  So much of what we consume on social is passive.  We scroll past it, we may or may not absorb it.  We don’t need to click on anything in order to consume.  But with email, actions are required.  And with action, comes measured engagement.

Click through rates on emails can hit up to 3-5% depending on your market.  For social media, a good click rate on a Tweet is considered to be 0.75%.

Mobile devices permit people to constantly check their emails

Since smart mobile devices have become the norm, people tend to check their emails whenever they get time; during their office commute, in line at Starbucks, at the doctor’s office, in the waiting room, at the grocery store, you get the idea.   Check your own stats, most email service providers now show you open rates on platforms, so you can see for yourself how mobile your audience is.   Here are our Socially Good stats, for example.  We use Mailchimp.

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You own your list

As we discussed above, social media changes.  At anytime, Facebook, Twitter, or any number of other social platforms can change something.  Perhaps they’ll start charging businesses to use the platform.  Perhaps they will go bankrupt and close down.  Perhaps they will just go out of fashion.  Remember MySpace?

When you have someone’s email address, you automatically have a more direct relationship with that person. Sure, they can (and should be able to easily) unsubscribe from your list, but assuming you make regular back ups of your contact lists, even if Mailchimp or Aweber or Constant Contact disappears overnight, you are still able to contact your ‘friends’.

Email Marketing Tips for 2016 

Create an acquisition strategy

One of your top priorities in 2016 should be to grow your email list.  There are many different ways to do this.

  • Better sign up placement on your website
  • Pop up boxes and sticky banners
  • Lead magnets to encourage people to give an email address in exchange for value.  Here is ours, for example.
  • Offer deals and discounts only available to email subscribers
  • Use social media as a lead generation funnel.  Here is an excellent post by Social Media Examiner on this topic.
  • Capture email addresses at in-person events.
Keep your data relevant: SEGMENTATION

Access your present data to ensure that you are sending out targeted communications and not “blast and batch” messages. Use simple data points, such as location and gender since these can significantly enhance the subscriber experience.  Do not use the same messages on social media that you’ll be using in email since customers love to read different information in each of these channels.

This data, provided by Mailchimp, shows just why segmentation should be a priority.

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  1. Personalize your emails

Your mobile and email subscribers, website visitors and those with whom you are connected on social media will respond even better to your emails if they are personalized. Personalized emails lead to one-to-one communication and can expand your customer base. For instance, you can create a unique email that contains personalized recommendations on the basis of the browsing behaviour of your subscribers. Studies indicate that adding personalized recommendations into your email marketing strategy can improve click-through rates by 35% and sales-conversions rates by 25%.

Personalized emails in 2016 means more than just ‘Dear <FNAME>‘, behavioural e-mail marketing can focus on many actions, but requires some sophistication in your tools and your tracking.  For example, this article from Unbounce demonstrates how you can use personalized emails for:

  • Targeted retention
  • Transactional emails
  • Lifecycle emails – milestones, anniversaries etc
  • Browsing history emails – my favourite!

Airbnb is great at sending emails based on your browsing history.  Ever looked dreamily at a treehouse in California, only to get an email the next day with suggested dates its available and other properties similar to it?  Here is more on their strategy.

What’s the lesson?

Make sure you are not ignoring e-mail because you think you *should* be focussing on social media.  We admit “Social media is dead.” isn’t the case, but social media needs to exist as part of an integrated strategy that consists of content + web + optimization + social + email.