Where Will Social Media Be 1 Year From Now?

Social media relevance

It’s hard to believe that Facebook has been around for 15 years already. While the company lost over $100 billion in value since the Cambridge-Analytica privacy issue, it remains among the top 10 largest companies (by market cap) in the world. There has been much dialogue about the relevance of Facebook and social media, in general, but rest assured that these channels will not disappear in the near future. Based on current marketplace trends, here’s what we can expect from social media one year from now.

There will be more ecommerce tools available on social media

Advertising keeps social media running. Executives at every major social media platform, including Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook), Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest, would like to diversify revenue streams. Facebook has toyed with the idea of charging a fee to users for an advertising-free experience but the company has been slow to move in that direction as the sheer volume of users is what keeps advertisers coming. LinkedIn has several premium features that allow companies and users to pay for the experience they would like to have. But, today revenue largely depends on advertising and that’s not likely to change in the near future.

In the past, advertisers have been satisfied with building their brands through social media. Some have developed attribution models to understand how brand building through social impacts sales. However, more and more brands have expressed a need to explicitly understand how their social media efforts affect sales. Such demands have resulted in more ecommerce features and tools available on social media. Retargeting, lead generation and social media marketplaces help brands drive sales through ecommerce. Expect to see expanded adoption of these tools in the coming year.

Users will gravitate to their favorite social media and abandon others

Social media fatigue is real. Users are getting exhausted by social media and many have disconnected from multiple sites to focus on their favorite. This is precisely why teens congregate on Snapchat. Yes, even Generation Z is tired of the social media scene. They tend toward sites where they have a network—that is, where their peers are.

“Abandoning” a social media can take many forms. Some users will delete their accounts altogether. Generation Y left Facebook for Instagram in droves in 2017 and 2018. Some users will spend less time on less significant sites. Some users will just walk away from their social pages. Twitter counts among its user base a number of users who have not posted on the social site in five or more. (By the way, this is why the MAU (monthly average users) metric is more important than overall user count.)

Expect even more users to move toward a presence on fewer social accounts in the next year.

Regulation will impact how user data gets used

Regulators across the globe continue to question social media executives about how user privacy is guarded. They are pushing for more disclosure and more user choice. The companies would like to self-police privacy efforts but UK regulators and others are pushing for third party oversight in light of recent security breaches and mishandling of data. This may lead to users opting-out of sharing their data. Fewer eyeballs could mean lower ad spends, which, in turn, could turn up the pressure on publicly-traded social media companies to find other means of generating revenue, including revisiting plans to charge subscription fees. Stay tuned.

Don’t Make This Silly Mistake with Your Facebook Page

facebook mistake

If the only thing that you are posting on your Facebook business page is discounts to buy your product or service, you are wasting resources. And, you may be creating downstream problems for your business. There are several reasons why only posting discounted products on Facebook won’t work.

You are not adding value to your followers’ Facebook feeds

People appreciate getting a discount on goods and services but they don’t necessarily go to Facebook to look for them. They are on Facebook to keep up with family and friends, to be entertained and to find relevant content (think news). Posting a daily, weekly or even monthly sale does not satisfy these needs. Posting a discount will not keep followers coming back to check out your Facebook page. Instead, you should be posting content daily to your page that is relevant for your followers.

You are conditioning customers to expect discounts

You can encourage more trials of your product with discounts but do you really want to give a discount to every customer on a regular basis? Probably not. If your discount is a loss leader, you are likely losing money on the sale. So, for prospective customers, this discounting tactic should be used infrequently. When you do offer a promotion, be sure to in use a promo code (for tracking) and a promotional end date. Limit the offer to new customers only if your existing customers are likely to repurchase without it.

You are damaging your brand

If you have been posting only discounts on your Facebook page, go to that page right now. Scroll through your content. Put yourself in your follower’s shoes. What did you learn about your company? What did you learn about your products? What does the company stand for? If all you found out is that the company offers discounted products, what does that say about your brand? At best, nothing. At worst, that your company offers products that can only be sold at a discount and no one should every pay full retail value for them. Ouch!

You are not encouraging engagement

If you know that Facebook users use the social media site to be entertained, entertain them. If they are connecting with family and friends, give them content that they will want to share with their friends. If there’s news in your industry worth sharing, share it. Don’t just share sale promotions on your page. Share content that is going to get your followers engaged.

Diversified relevant content will improve your followers experience and engagement with your Facebook page. Start with developing a content calendar for your Facebook business page. Contact us to discuss how.

Marketing on Twitter: #2 in Low Cost Marketing Series

marketing on Twitter

In this series on low cost marketing, I’m sharing how to use marketing assets, like social media, to build awareness and drive traffic (to your webpage, mobile app, etc.).  While social media is not free, used correctly, it can certainly help you efficiently find your posse online.  With this post, I focus on marketing on Twitter.

All social media is not created equal.  So, while there are tools that will allow you to create one post and send it to every social media account you have, this is not the optimal use of your resources.  What works on Facebook may not work on Instagram, even though Instagram is owned by Facebook and the company makes it easy to advertise one message on both platforms.  Similarly, what works on Instagram may not work on Pinterest or Twitter.

For years, many have wondered Will Twitter Live?  Yes, Twitter is still alive and getting a much needed boost from prominent personalities worldwide (with notable exceptions, like British royalty, who are not allowed to Twitter accounts).

Twitter, Not Just for Celebrities

Twitter has been a strong social media for actors, entertainers, politicians, athletes—basically for any “celebrity” who wants to bring their message to the masses.  Consider the following:

  • Katy Perry has 108 million Twitter followers
  • Barack Obama has 99 million
  • Ellen DeGeneres has 77 million
  • Jimmy Fallon has 40 million
  • Donald Trump has 47 million
  • Oprah Winfrey has 41 million
  • LeBron James has 40 million

You get the picture.  When these individuals tweet anything, their instant audience is informed.  But don’t be tempted to think that Twitter is just for celebrities and their followers.  There are many corporate brands that have been successful with marketing on Twitter as well.  Just look at MoonPie, a small dessert brand made by Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Their $35 million in revenue is paltry compared to Hostess Brands at $2.5 billion. That didn’t stop @MoonPie from going after a Hostess’ Twitter claim that is was the “official snack cake of the elipse”.  MoonPie’s response resulted in millions of impressions beyond Twitter as the tweet went viral with over 500,000 likes.

Find other examples of strong brand marketing on Twitter in my July 2014 post.

Engage in Trending Conversations

For many brands, getting marketing on Twitter right involves engaging with trending topics.  Like most social media sites, Twitter is about strategy and timing.  Timing is key and tweets live and die on trending topics.  When a hashtag trends on Twitter, it is hot, hot, hot…but only for a limited time.  Given that success on Twitter is linked to timeliness, the more time spent on the social media site, the more opportunities to get noticed.  Therefore, posting several times per day on Twitter is optimal.  (Warning: This is not a universal truth for all social media accounts.)   If you do not have the time or resources to login and post several times a day, use a scheduler like Hootsuite or Buffer as Twitter does not currently have a scheduling option on the platform.  It is absolutely essential to use the trending hashtag when posting on a trending topic.

Be Your Own Publicist

While Twitter is a good platform for getting into conversations about trending topics, it can also be an effective PR tool.  With all the celebrities on Twitter, you can be sure that the media is there as well.  Successful marketing on Twitter often includes engaging with media.  In fact, many TV news outlets will say “Join the conversation on Twitter at #XYZ” when they want to carry a discussion into the digital realm.  No other social media site bridges the digital-broadcast gap in quite the same fashion.

There are media publishers, national media personalities and many, many local reporters on the social site.  You can find, follow and engage with relevant media on Twitter.  Once you find them, don’t limit your engagement to the social media site, connect with relevant followers and contacts offline as well!

Follow Relevant Accounts

Not only should you follow the media, you should also follow accounts that are relevant to your business.  Gaining an audience is a key component to marketing on Twitter.  But if you follow and unfollow too much, Twitter will freeze your account—either temporarily or permanently. So be judicious about who to follow.  You can start by following accounts that are engaged in conversations that you want to be engaged in.  Don’t feel compelled to follow every account that follows you.  It’s very easy to set up a fake Twitter account and there are plenty of fakes on the site.  So take the time to investigate a user that follows you before you follow back.

Engage Through Lists

The Lists feature on Twitter allows you to create a group of users into a single social stream.  Lists are useful for organizing follower types on Twitter.  For instance, you can create a list of suppliers or a list of media contacts.  Lists may be public or private.  Private lists are great for researching competitor activity or tracking a client list that you do not want publicly disclosed.  Lists are a great tool to enhance marketing on Twitter.

It is important to not only post tweets but also to engage with other users on Twitter.  This is true for every social media platform.  If you use social sites as a broadcast platform but do not engage, your followers will not be engaged either.  Use Lists to initiate engagement.  For instance, if you want to retweet influencers, create an Influencer List and view that stream to find relevant content.

Indeed, Twitter is still alive.  Marketing on Twitter can be a low cost marketing strategy but will require man-hours.  Finding your way on the social site is a matter of strategy and timing.  As you engage with others on the platform, you will increase awareness of your brand and deliver more impressions to the market.

Using Facebook Organically: #1 in Low Cost Marketing Series

Organic - Facebook Marketing

Businesses need to be fueled by funding, whether that funding comes from a lender, an investor or a customer (i.e., sales).  “Low cost marketing” is not “no cost marketing”.  This post, which focuses on Facebook marketing, is the first in a series on finding low cost marketing solutions.

Businesses need money to survive.

I have had discussions with several individuals who want to start businesses or grow a business with little or no money.  As a marketer, the first question they ask me is: How do I market my business without spending any money?

It is possible to hustle and build a business, but even that takes an investment.  And, the investment is your time—which is valuable.  If you are working with only “blood, sweat and tears”, you are looking for customers to fund your business.  Your hustle, then, needs to focus on what will drive customers to purchase from you.

Through a series of posts, I will outline marketing tools that you can use to get started without much cash outlay.  Let’s start with the ever popular social media space.

Engagement on Social Media

Social media is NOT free marketing.  It never has been and it never will be.  There are many abandoned business social media accounts that belonged to entrepreneurs who thought that they would easily build a customer base on social.  That said, let’s explore what can be done with sweat equity.

Facebook First

Let’s tackle Facebook first.  If you are in the B2C space, it is the behemoth to understand.  The first thing to do is decide what type of content you will post.  Think about your target customer.  What is she concerned about in relation to the product or service you provide?  While it’s acceptable to post content unrelated to you brand occasionally, you will be more successful in finding potential customers if you post relevant content.

Get to Posting

Once you’ve decided upon what to post, get to posting and do it regularly.  If you are not a publisher, the rule of thumb is to post at least daily.  Facebook allows you to schedule posts which will save you from having to log in daily to add a post.

Monitor Your Page

While you won’t have to log in to your account daily if you are scheduling posts, you probably should if you aren’t spending much money on advertising elsewhere.  You will want to monitor your account regularly to respond to any messages or reply to comments on your posts.  Do not feel obligated to reply to every post but use the platform to engage and be social.  After all, that’s what it’s for!

Engage with Others

You also should decide which pages to follow and follow them as you page (not as your personal account).  This will allow you to view your page feed and interact with those you follow.  You may like, comment or share the content of those pages you follow.  Sharing also counts as posting content.

Boost Your Posts

At the time of this post, you can advertise on Facebook for as little as $1 per day.  At that level, you can boost your posts.  Boosting is a promotion for your Facebook posts.  It will allow you to send traffic to your website or drive interaction with posts.  You are able to select geographic, demographic and behavioral targets for the audience you want to reach.  Don’t waste your money boosting to a broad audience.  Instead focus on the individual who will respond to your post.


Facebook offers other advertising opportunities that start at just $5 per day.  These include driving traffic to your website, promoting you Facebook page to garner likes, getting more app installations, finding leads for your business and more.

Facebook is a good place to start if your target audience uses the platform.  And, chances are, they do!  In future posts, I will explore other social media, public relations, blogging and other low cost marketing ideas.

How UBS Engaged 5 Million through Content Marketing

Content Marketing - partnership

In July 2016, UBS launched UNLIMITED, an online portal with curated content that discusses life issues relevant to wealthy millennials and women.  The company has reported that its content marketing strategy is working.  Content is being consumed by 35 to 38 year olds and 60% of the readership is women.  The challenge all wealth management professionals face is well-documented.  According to a Fidelity Investments study, only 58% of younger millionaires are working with advisors, down from 72% five years ago.

Develop Relevant Content

UBS has enlisted photographer Annie Leibovitz, among others, to shed the “alpha male”-focused imagery that has persisted in financial industry advertising.  They have also partnered with Vice Media, Vanity Fair and Stephen Hawking to create content that speaks to the target audience in their language.  The company wanted to develop content that spoke to laypersons (read non-finance gurus) about relevant issues while omitting language that requires a finance degree to understand.

They also developed content that is evergreen so that it can be distributed repeatedly over time through social media.  With its partners, UBS created short-form videos which are used to lead readers to longer-form content (7-8 minute articles).  Leadership notes that the longer content is being consumed, despite the fact that 72% of engagement is initiated on mobile.

Engage Target Markets through Social Media

UBS Chief Marketing Officer Nicolas Wright told Marketing Week that the new program is working.  He says that UBS has attracted one million unique users to its online hub and engaged 5 million through social media.  After 15 months, UBS UNLIMITED has nearly 15,000 Facebook followers and 1,650 Twitter followers.  UBS has more than 115,000 followers on its primary Facebook page.  The company has reported more than 5,000 email subscribers in the first six months of UNLIMITED.  Given these figures, it is likely that the 5 million engaged through social media are on partner properties.

Measure Results

Despite the higher engagement, UBS reported a loss of $6.4 billion in customer assets in second quarter 2017.  Not surprising given the hard task of reconciling the social media following with the reported engagement numbers.  However, the company also notes that there is an 18-month sales cycle for its wealth management services.  It’s important that UBS—and you—have clearly defined metrics to help understand how a content marketing strategy will result into leads and sales.  What’s yours?

Twitter is Useful but It’s Awfully Messy

Twitter Is Messy

For the past year, I have told anyone who has asked me about social media that Twitter is messy.  If you are in a relationship with Twitter, you know what I mean.

There are stalkers on Twitter.  You know the kind.  They follow you but you have no idea why.  You read their profile (if they’ve bothered to create anything beyond a username) and you still don’t know why they are following you.  And, I do not understand the value of “I follow back.”  People who write that in their profile mean that if you follow them and they’ll follow you even if they have no idea why.  What is that about?

Well, at least I can block the stalkers and the follow-backers….and anyone else I want to.  Maybe Twitter uses the block feature to find spammers and deactivate their accounts.  I’ll hold on to that thought.  It’s such a nice one.

It is getting harder to find the people you know on Twitter.  

One year ago, you could import contacts from Gmail and Yahoo.  Not anymore.  Now there’s just AOL and Outlook/Hotmail.  No disrespect—that’s what my son says when something kinda mean is coming—but do people who are on AOL even know what Twitter is?  Here’s the odd thing about searching for people on Twitter: if I want to look up a friend, like my friend John Smith, who’s email address I know and who’s name is too common, it’s impossible to find him unless I have AOL or Outlook.  How frustrating!

There is one feature I LOVE on Twitter.  It’s the mute function.  Sometimes I just have to mute someone I’m following.  Too much noise in my feed.  I know it’s crazy:  why not just stop following them?  Well, sometimes you have to follow people who are following you so that the people they follow will know you’re following them.  Are you following me?  I told you Twitter is messy.  Twitter relationships are messy too.

Search is also messy on Twitter.  I have found content and people on Twitter through a Google search that I could not find on the Twitter site.  So sometimes you have to leave Twitter to find what you need on Twitter.  Messy!

And, on a desktop, surely I am not the only person who logs out of Twitter to log in as a different user with a different account.  (Perhaps I’m the only one who still uses a desktop??)  For a whole host of reasons, individuals manage multiple Facebook pages from a single login.  Facebook makes it easy.  And, they get tons of information from allowing it.  I wonder if it counts as multiple users.  Or single users with multiple pageviews, time spent on the site, etc.  All the things advertisers want to see regarding an engaged audience.  Why, oh why, can’t Twitter allow me to manage multiple users/accounts/pages/whatever?

Because Twitter is messy.

But all is not lost.  Everything in this message can be mitigated.  Twitter knows it but they are not starting from scratch.  They first have to undo the damage left by the (mostly product) folks that Mr. Dorsey just got rid of.  Hopefully they do so before we all leave for good.

Social media is not “free” marketing

Social Media - Not Free Marketing

Many business leaders, especially those with limited marketing budgets, think of social media as a free way to deliver their brand’s message in the marketplace.  While it is true that the barriers to getting into the social media fray are low, there are costs to developing successful social media campaigns.

This post is not meant to deter any business from setting up a social media account.  By all means, pick a username, set up your profile and post a few logos and pictures, but be sure that you have considered the following:

  1. You will need to develop content regularly.  Simply developing an account and linking your website to your social media account is a futile exercise.  If you do not have a plan to deliver content—that is, posts, pictures, videos, infographics, etc.—regularly, you need to rethink your social media strategy.  The point of the social media account is to initiate a relationship with your target audience, which can only be done through regular communication.
  2. You may need multiple accounts.  Consider why you are setting up a social media account.  Are you trying to attract new customers?  Do you want to build brand awareness of a specific product?  Are you ready to answer customer questions?  If you search for Amazon on Twitter, you will find @amazon, @amazonkindle, @amazonvideo, @amazonassociate, @amazonappstore and @amazonhelp, among several other Amazon accounts.  Each one serves a different market need.  It is not likely that you will need as many accounts as Amazon, but it may be desirable to give customers a social service “line” that is distinct from your primary brand-building account.
  3. You should have an integrated marketing plan.  Your social media marketing strategy should be one component of your overall marketing strategy.  Think of it as an extension of what you do in other marketing channels and be sure your have consistent messaging across media.
  4. You must measure your social media efforts.  Given the time spent doing #1 through #3 above, you will want to be sure that there is value in your social media activity.  Are you getting enough views of posts to efficiently build awareness?  Are you reaching your target audience?  How has your customer satisfaction changed as a result of creating a social service account?

All of these things will affect the marketing budget but there are a few things you can do to mitigate the above costs.  For instance, there are tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that increase the efficiency of managing social media accounts.  These solutions allow users to manage multiple accounts from a single platform.  They also allow users to schedule posts for a future day or time.  So, executing a social media strategy often becomes less arduous with these tools.

Being selective about which social media platforms you use can also mitigate costs.  It is not likely that you need to be on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and Google+ and Instagram and every other new social media.  Select the platforms that are most relevant to your target customer base and focus on optimizing your presence there.

Consider hiring a social media expert.  It may seem counterintuitive but if you are inefficient because of lack of familiarity with Hootsuite or because you do not have the bandwidth for developing content, it may make sense to hire an expert so that your time can be spent where you add the most value.

Social media is not free but with the right support and tools, it can be an effective and efficient component of the overall marketing strategy.

Marketing Basics Still Apply on Social Media

Marketing Basics - Social Media

Many seasoned marketers are all too eager to leave the social media marketing to younger professionals. The ever-evolving social media space can feel daunting to traditional marketers accustomed to broadcast and print marketing. But while the technology is different, the basic building blocks of marketing still hold true.

When creating a marketing campaign delivered through any media, you must…

  1. Identify your target market. In traditional marketing, we get to know the target market through quantitative or qualitative market research. With social media marketing, we can get to know the target by “listening” on the social media platform. What are customers saying about the product? About what they want? About how they use the product? Same questions, new media.
  2. Create relevant messaging. In traditional marketing, the development of the message can be a very long, intensive process. With social media marketing, the creative development cycle is usually much faster. Some of the most effective social media campaigns will build on current trending topics or hashtags.
  3. Measure your campaign results. With traditional marketing, effectiveness can be measured by reach and frequency. With social media marketing, engagement is king because the platforms are inherently interactive.

Let’s take a few examples of how these marketing fundamentals apply in a social media context.

Oreo seizes social moment at 2013 Super Bowl

Oreo’s 2013 Super Bowl social media campaign spoke to a large audience at the right time. When the lights went out at the Superdome during the 2013 Super Bowl game, Oreo saw an opportunity and tweeted, “You can still dunk in the dark.”

By contributing to an ongoing trending topic, Oreo received nearly 16,000 retweets. The now-famous blackout tweet demonstrates how relevant messaging can reach a targeted audience and ignite viral engagement.

Yeti Coolers engages Facebook fans

Social media can also improve the playing field for lesser known brands. Igloo and Coleman are strong brand names in the cooler market, but the (once) lesser known Yeti now has cooler sales revenue that rivals its competitors. Yeti makes rugged coolers for those who have a passion for outdoor activities. The company’s social media strategy speaks to this audience in their language. On its Facebook page, Yeti regularly shares imagery of its product featured in the fun and adventure of the great outdoors.

The company’s more than 207,000 Facebook fans routinely engage with these posts. In fact, it’s quite common for the company to get 500 likes per Facebook post. That works out to an engagement rate of 0.24%. Compare that to Disney, one of the most recognized brands in the world, which gets about 35,000 likes per Facebook post. Disney has 48.4 million Facebook fans, an engagement rate of 0.07%. Yeti may have a smaller presence, but it is more effectively engaging its audience.

You’ve heard this marketing refrain before: Deliver the right message for the right audience at the right time. It is as relevant today as it has always been.

Social media hasn’t reinvented marketing: If anything, it underscores that the basics of marketing are as valuable as ever.

Find Your Target Audience, Map Your Social Strategy

Social media life

No doubt about it.  I’m feeling my age.  I’m now on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and, of course, LinkedIn.  Social media is where it’s at…right?  Well, I guess it depends on what “it” is.

Facebook is THE place to catch up on the fabulous lives of all of your friends and acquaintances.  If you don’t have a fabulous life, you don’t post on Facebook.  Or, is it, if you are living your fabulous life, you don’t have time to post on Facebook?  Either way, chances are, someone has invited you in and you’ve at least signed up.  And so…clearly, if you own a consumer-facing business, you need to have a presence on Facebook and you need to get as many likes as you can because Facebook likes beget Facebook likes.  That is, you grow exponentially as you gather your new friend’s friends likes and friends of your new friend’s friends and so on.

Now, Google+ is a powerful social tool.  Great product but because Google showed up later to the social table than Facebook, they have fewer active users.  But, if you have any Google+ products (gmail, an Android, etc.), you WILL be invited to Google+.  Ultimately, the power of Google+ lies in the pace of adoption and user interaction.  Stay tuned…

If you are in to online scrapbooking, Pinterest is for you.  There are lots of users (and the majority are women) sharing lots of images.  Sometimes we’re discussing the fabric of our lives, sometimes it’s what we wish was the fabric of our lives.  It’s really a great forum for sharing with the girls.  “Look, what I found!”  If you’re a business, you really need to have something worth being found (visually) and shared.  Ben Silvermann (CEO of Pinterest) says that the company is piloting advertising on the site.  As an advertiser, expect to create new shareable content to optimize the bang for your buck.

One word about Snapchat.  It makes me feel… well, 40-something.  There are far fewer 40-somethings using Snapchat, which means I have fewer contacts to interact with.  Heck, I felt clumsy just getting the app to work.  Not to mention I was fretting over privacy concerns when the app asked for my mobile phone number.  Somehow I feel better when apps just ask for permission to access all the contacts in my phone.

Well, more to come on the other social media in a future blog.  I’m off to update my social media accounts.