Important changes in Social Behavior 2018
The online world of social media is changing - Actually, one might say it is in a state of chaos. Perhaps the volatility of the current political climate is one of many contributing factors, Maybe it has to do with the mass onset of misinformation…Or perhaps it just comes with our added interest in privacy laws. Whatever the cause…It is important to be aware of how things are changing if you are going to be competitive in the social marketplace.
Here is a quick overview of some of the major changes.
Facebook has changed your feed
No social platform makes as many changes as facebook. That still didn’t prepare businesses for the drastic changes that were announced in January of this year, when Mark Zuckerberg let the world know that Facebook was going to focus on more friends and family based content within it’s users news feed.
Organic reach for facebook’s business pages had been shrinking for years but with the aforementioned announcement that facebook would begin to throttle business pages even more than they had previously…businesses realized that they would have to change their game.
Many believe this is a response to the increasing evidence that young people are abandoning Facebook in favor of more private social networks such as Snapchat and Instagram. The total number of users aged 12-34 has declined heavily from 2017 to 2018. This concern over privacy has been an ongoing issue. In fact - One recent poll from the Pew Research Center shows that 74% of users have either modified their privacy settings, reduced how often they check Facebook or deleted the app from their phone.
While these numbers aren’t favorable for Facebook - they aren’t going to cause any panic. The same poll shows that 1.47 Billion users, still use Facebook every day. That is more than the entire population of China. The same report also shows that mobile usage is also on the rise.
The important thing to note here is that a big part of Facebook’s changes had to do with the fact that Facebook users had become less engaged with their news feed. The content they were seeing applied less to them and was thereby deemed not important.
Facebook’s changes to their algorithm as a response was not meant to target brand content per se, Rather, it went after content that created less “meaningful interactions” among users. This just happened to fall largely on the shoulders of brand specific content.
Twitter takes action on bulk posts.
Facebook was not alone when it comes to large changes. Twitter has also been making heavy changes primarily focused on eliminating misinformation and “spammy” content.
Twitter has been under scrutiny lately for how easily spammers and bots were able to push political and hate group agendas in the past. In response to this situation, Twitter announced that, as of July 2018, users and third-party apps will no longer be able to post the same content to multiple accounts. In addition, twitter has banned the practice of creating auto-engagements at scale, such as mass-liking or retweeting posts.
2018 Social sharing declines
Social media metrics company Buzzsumo also pointed out that social sharing is on the decline from previous years. A current poll shows that shares have declined by 50 percent in 2017 compared to 2015. The quickness with which most trending topics become saturated with content means only the first few posts are winning out on the lion share of likes and shares.
What is Dark Social?
While the concept of “Dark Social” has been around since the beginning of social networks, the past few years has shown that it is growing rapidly.
Dark social might sound like some underground seedy web forum, The term “DARK” actually refers to online social sharing and activity that occurs OUTSIDE of public social media posts. This means people are sharing through email, chat, and other such private channels. According to a recent report, 84% of consumers’ outbound sharing from publishers’ and marketers’ websites now takes place in private.
For digital marketers, this presents a challenge because dark social metrics can’t be tracked or measured.
What about social Influencers?
Previously, One of the best ways we (as digital marketers) have worked around the throttling issues and organic decline, was to align with influencers. Influencers are celebrities and “thought leaders,” that are highly followed by average consumer. Influencer marketing became the rage and for a while it was the gold standard with social media marketing companies. If you could influencers to talk about your product, you found a way around the aforementioned social media throttles and organic decline.
So what happened?
Scandal and abuse rock the influencer market.
Over the last couple of years, scandal has changed even the influencer market, when it was discovered that several well known accounts did not actually have the traffic they claimed. It turned out that many of the supported accounts were fake, purchased or bots, created to inflate their viewer numbers.
There were also several cases where poor decisions or scandal by an influencer (or celebrity), ended up negatively impacting the brands that had sought endorsement.
Are Influencer accounts & strategic partnerships still important
Ultimately influencer accounts continue to drive social markets. The important thing to take away here is that you should go beyond just connecting with people based on their social numbers. Seek to connect and build relationship with people who have earned their influence within their market.
Find people that relate to your industry.
Treat your engagement like you are building an actual relationship between the influencer and your company/organization.
Connect with people that align to your core values as a company.
Look for a genuine exchange.
Make a connection that is mutually beneficial and not just a connection that involves a paycheck for an endorsement.
By focusing on the long game you will have greater impact and more success with the influencer market.
What about good old fashioned Social Marketing?
An article in Forbes magazine stated that more than half of small businesses increased their social media ad budget in 2017. That being said - Ad blindness has become a real issue. There is growing evidence that suggests that social ads are failing to catch the eye of the consumer. There has also been an increase in consumers taking advantage of ad blocking software.
The headlines at first glance appear bleak but that would be incorrect. The truth is that social media is far from dead. In fact - It has merely stepped into a new life cycle. It would be hard not to compare the changes to those that have happened in the SEO community over the years. As social media has grown in popularity it has evolved and experienced many growing pains. However, like SEO, it has begun to find itself. What has actually happened is that Social media is separating itself from the the tricks and hacks that were commonly being used to “game the system”. Those days are coming to an end and now we must focus on what is really important.
Social media users are still a huge and very relevant audience. In fact this amazing tool is the largest form of mass communication ever. Facebook alone boasts over 2.2 Billion Monthly active users. Social media is still where most online conversation and sharing happens.
So, what do you need to know in 2018 about Social Media?
Does social media make sense for your company or organization?
I’m not going to beat around the bush. Social media like any other marketing channel, requires your attention and focus. it requires a significant investment in managing your account. That being said, the first thing you need to understand is whether or not Social media is the right fit for your organization.
Social marketing is simply one tool in a much larger marketing tool box. The investment or time spent managing your social account may or may not be better spent elsewhere or through other means. Also - It is important that you find the social media channel[s] that work for your organization. The demographics are very different between facebook, twitter, instagram, etc.
There is no one size fits all solution. You can not use the same strategy in multiple channels and expect the same results.
Social Media Marketing is no longer optional.
Let’s be honest - You like organic traffic because it is FREE. That being said - even in the good old days when organic traffic had reach...you never knew if it was actually reaching the right audience.
The paid marketing campaign has an incredible advantage in that it helps you learn your dollar per conversion rate. That is a powerful thing to know. It helps you become more efficient with your advertising budgets. In fact - 62% of businesses with 10 or fewer employees agreed social media actually reduced marketing expenses
“62% of businesses with 10 or fewer employees agreed social media actually reduced marketing expenses”
Social Marketing also allows you to reach people that you might not otherwise connect with. True, there is a bit of a steep learning curve and heavy time investment to properly manage campaigns. You also must be able to create quality ads that capture your audience's attention without falling into the background noise. However, when done correctly, you have a much greater reach to a qualified user base that is much more likely to be interested in your product or service.
I want to be clear here… the time investment can be substantial, and while it might seem like an added cost to bring an outside agency in to conduct your marketing campaigns, it is highly recommended. If not done correctly, you can end up burning through a large amount of money in a short period of time with no usable data. A qualified Social Marketing agency will be able to:
Help you find the right channels for your industry and client base
Drive traffic and grow your brand awareness
Prevent you from blowing through your ad budget too quickly
Help you focus on the right business solutions based on the data
build engaging ads that will help you better connect with your audience.
Set markers that will let you understand how successful your campaigns are.
Quality Trumps Quantity
Google has alerted the SEO community that they are looking for better content for users and that priority will be given to this type of content. That is the same approach you should take when creating social content.
Many of the Social media giants are making the move to focus on more quality based content as they distance themselves from what is known as “click bait”. Click bait is best described as content created to manipulate the user to click through on an article, ad or CTA.
Like Google - Social media gives added value to content that has been actioned upon. Meaning… if you see an advert and click on it, the assumption is that the advert was of value to the user. However, networks are also watching for click bait ads that drive through to “thin” or “spammy” content. Social networks want to diminish the value of this type of content, and in some cases, eradicate it entirely.
Content that creates genuine human involvement and interaction is more highly prized by the Social media channels. They are looking for content that people want to share, discuss, or engage with. This ultimately benefits your brand by creating a more memorable interaction and leaving people with a positive experience.
Social media is not just a megaphone.
Social media is also a great way to offer customer assistance.
This is a huge part of our personal social engagement plans. When our company works with clients, we divide content into two parts and prioritize the interactions.
For most questions/issues, we are able to provide a satisfactory answer and act as a sort of triage for our client by immediately connecting with the user and responding quickly to the question or issue at hand. Anything that falls beyond the scope of our knowledge base, we then escalate to the client.
In this manner, we are able to offer a positive personal engagement without requiring the client to connect for issues that can easily be solved in other ways.
We are also able to monitor information about:
The bigger conversation and trending topics
Collect feedback on website, image, and product or services
Learn new ideas from your user base
Respond to reviews on products and/or services
And collect user-generated content worth re-sharing.
So where are we with Social Media in 2018?
Truth be told - There are so many reason people need to be actively engaged in their own social story.
Social media posts can connect your audience to valuable information on your website.
When people click through and find valuable content on your website - It also can improve your SERP (Search Engine Results Page), results
Social media can extend your reach and help you connect with influencers you might not otherwise have access to.
Social Media Marketing helps you to understand your audience.
Can help you build a relationship with your audience.
It’s a great way to provide customer support.
Helps to build brand loyalty.
70% of business-to-consumer marketers have acquired customers through Facebook
84% of CEOs and VPs say they use social media to help make purchasing decisions?
Some consider it crucial for real estate agents to get on social media — and stay active!
Social media marketing contributes to the establishing of you as an authority in your industry.
And really - Your competition is using Social.
There are way more reason to be engaged in Social today than ever before. Social media is not going anywhere and it is important that, as a business, you understand social and your place in it.