We all know that social media is one of the biggest influencers of buying decisions among consumers today. Advertising on social networks like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, has the potential to yield revenues that far exceed spending when done by a trained expert.
A few years back, it was not unusual for businesses to see returns of 500% or even 1000%, and even today most people who have been doing online marketing for quite some time would tell you that marketing through social media can yield the highest ROI due to the low cost and minimal barriers to entry. However, is this indeed the case?
The truth is that social media marketing has become saturated and a lot more competitive over the years. Organic reach has declined dramatically due to steps taken by social networks that prioritize personal relationships and interaction. One good example is Facebook’s recent update to their newsfeed algorithm that prioritizes “meaningful connections” among users over promotional content from business pages. Hence, anyone looking to stay on the bandwagon needs to face some hard realities and take steps to maintain their social media advantage.
Here are a couple of things that you need to know about the current state of social media marketing (2018 and beyond)
1) Not everyone gets a favorable ROI
Many business owners who have heard amazing success stories about social media marketing tend to expect the same results just by getting their feet wet which is not at all the case. A 2016 report by the Data & Marketing Association states that of the 77% of online marketers that use at least one social network to market their business, only 48% claim to have achieved a good return on investment.
2) Social marketing requires time and efforts
Any reputable social media consultant would tell you that marketing via social networks is not some magical bulb that you can turn on and expect to start seeing improvements in revenue. It takes an enormous amount of time and energy to craft a profitable social media campaign, that too only if you a have a thorough understanding of your target market. This goal requires (among other things) the ability to craft exciting and engaging content, then publishing the content at just the right time. Moreover, businesses need to be active, engaging with their audience for months or even years before they can expect to see returns on investment.
3) Sketchy definition of ROI
You may have heard of businesses claiming an ROI of 1000% and thought to yourself — that is incredible! However, did you ever think of digging deeper and asking them where those returns are coming from? If you did, then you would know that the answer can differ from one business to another. One might say that they have made those claims based on an increase in website traffic while others may report an increase in sales that is not entirely due to social marketing alone.
To further complicate matters, businesses have to take into account the cost of running their social media marketing campaigns including staff wages. In many cases, ROI is self-reported, so it’s difficult to guarantee you’re getting an accurate account of the returns.
4) Achieving ROI is not as easy as you might think
As mentioned at the start of this article, getting a good return on investment marketing on social networks has become more difficult nowadays due in part to a decline in organic reach from popular social networks like Facebook. Add to the fact that most of these social networks have launched apps that deliberately decrease the visibility of businesses to ensure that users encounter less promotional content, fueling the need for paid advertising.
5) Some niches are just better suited
While just about any business has the potential to flourish by embracing social media marketing, some industries are going to have an easier time than others. Businesses that can craft visually engaging and trendy content which can be marketed to avid social media users tend to be more successful. Some good examples of such businesses include fashion, cosmetics and the entertainment industry. If you are not sure your business fits the description, then you might want to consider investing your marketing dollars elsewhere.
A question of chance
No one goes into social media marketing without believing there is a degree of providence involved. A piece of content going viral can be all that a business needs to go from “zero” to “hero”. Unfortunately, the science behind viral content is sketchy at best. Even if you believe you have all the right “ingredients”, your content may still not go viral. In the meantime, a similar competing piece of content might get 100 times more shares just because it was published at the right time or was seen by the right people who shared it further in their social circle.
The challenges mentioned above are not meant to dissuade you in any way from starting your social media marketing campaign. Social media is still one of the best and most effective strategies for marketing a business online. However, for businesses to be successful, they have to maintain reasonable expectations and let go of strategies and tactics which no longer apply today.
Nik Tordil is an SEO Specialist at www.thinkbigonline.com, an Internet Marketing agency based in Sydney.