As far as we know, social media was never designed to become a marketing platform. But inevitably it has. Perhaps that was the plan to make social networks money in the first place. But maybe not.
Either way, we are faced with the reality that social media networks are an easy way for companies to connect with customers and push their products and services on to them.
It’s only a matter of time before social networkers get fed up with receiving irrelevant content and promotional videos. They only joined to hang out with their friends and share news and interests!
Paid advertising is a pain
Social networks have not done anything to smooth over a growing problem. If anything, they are making it worse. For marketers to get their content seen by more than a handful of prospects, paid advertising is the only way to go.
As a result, unwanted content is appearing newsfeeds of social media users. You have probably seen plenty already. It’s a nuisance isn’t it? And if you think it’s a pain, then so will your audience.
So now, companies are faced with a Catch-22. You either have to shell out for paid advertising or have a limited presence on social media. For the time being, paid advertising on social media may be working for some companies, but how long will it last?
It won’t be long until social networkers are flooded with content companies have paid to sync with their newsfeeds. It is often the case that the recipients have no interest whatsoever in the advert and they inevitably get in the way.
Essentially, paid social media ads are the new pop-up banners. Surveys show that intrusive ads like this are more likely to give your brand a poor reputation with consumers and ruin your chances of acquiring their services through any channel, online or offline.
Creating content for social media
Marketers got wise to content creation targeting social users. Content should not be advertising, it should be informative, or entertaining. Otherwise you do not get any engagement.
The same can be said for paid advertising. So now companies are having to pay extra to produce the content they were posting before. And it’s not really advertising. Social networks have you by the curlies.
Back to the Catch-22. Do you take advantage of social selling while the grape is ripe, or do you hold off and protect your online reputation and brand name without upsetting anybody?
Whilst social networks will not collapse altogether, it would seem that effective social media marketing is a short-term game. How do you want to come out of it in the long-term?
The human element of engaging with customers on social media has a key role to play, now and in the future, so you need to take the decision what advertising you are prepared to pay for via this channel – lead generation or a sales pitch?
The other option is to quit producing content in the popular networks and use Twitter, Facebook et al for smooching prospects, building an online reputation as an expert and learning about the needs of your audience.
Emerging social media networks are better designed for producing content and have a ready-made audience of readers that are genuinely interested in the topics you are posting.
By all means, reserve content for emerging social sites such as Quora, Medium and Bubblews to drive traffic, but do not expect these sites to generate conversions. Search is still better than social.