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Nicholas Scalice
August 13, 2015

5 Ways Social Media Marketing Is Changing Before Our Eyes

Okay, I’ll say it. This is going to be a controversial post. I’m going to cover some stuff that some of you will disagree with. But that’s alright. In fact, that’s what I’m hoping will happen.

You see, as marketers, we’re at our finest when we’re challenging the status quo. If we’re just going with the flow, we’re falling behind, and that can have a devastating effect on our career or business.

And as far as social media marketing is concerned, nothing seems to be changing faster. Think back to just a half decade ago (not a long time, really). Snapchat and Instagram were literally just getting started. Pinterest and Vine were not even created yet. Facebook had a measly 500 million users, and Twitter … well, Twitter was just being Twitter.

My point is, it’s difficult enough just keeping up with the social platforms we all use, but it’s even more difficult keeping up with how to use them as marketers.

But have no fear. That’s what this post is hopefully going to assist you with. As you’ll see below, I’ve outlined five ways social media marketing is changing and what we should do about it.

1. Speed often beats production quality

Have you noticed how quickly some brands have reacted to current events in recent years? Probably the most famous case is the brilliant tweet by Oreo during the Super Bowl XLVII blackout. Talk about being quick on their feet!

Other brands have leveraged speed in some very interesting ways over the years. The takeaway is, social media is a medium that allows us to communicate with our audiences very rapidly. We need to appreciate that.

Sometimes that means we’re better off releasing very timely content even if it isn’t as polished as we’d like it to be. Most people don’t seem to mind content that is rough around the edges. In fact, a timely tweet containing a hastily-created meme can appear to be much more authentic and relatable than a stuffy, stock-photo-filled slide deck.

2. The moment is more important than the memory

This trend is brought to you by Snapchat, and Periscope, and Meerkat. But mostly Snapchat.

They were the first to tell the world that social media can be used as a means of communicating rather than as a means of making memories for our digital scrapbooks.

moment

The whole idea of ephemeral media is still slightly rebellious, and many brands don’t even know where to start with something like Snapchat. “What do you mean we can’t save our snaps!?”

But give it a little time, and more and more people will come to see the brilliance behind Snapchat and related platforms. We’re moving out of the era of creating social content for our future selves to look back on and into the era of creating social content for our current selves to use as a means of communication. Boom. Welcome to the future.

3. Say goodbye to “one size fits all” marketing

The more personalized our experiences on social platforms are, the more likely we are to engage. That’s just human nature. So, as marketers, we need to try to deliver a customized experience to our audience segments whenever possible.

Did you notice I said audience “segments?” That’s where our thinking needs to be headed. We should stop looking at our audience as one giant blob and start looking at it as a bunch of tiny blobs.

targeting

Just one real-world example of this would be Facebook targeting for organic posts. Did you know, you can configure a regular Facebook page post so that only a specific group of your fans see it? Want to write content in multiple languages all from the same Facebook page? Facebook targeting for organic posts will let you do that.

4. Engagement is the new following

Oh, this is a tricky one. For as long as I can remember, many of my clients would come to me and ask for “more fans” or “more followers.” And we’d have a nice chat about the value of a fan, and how engagement is what really matters. But people were still stuck on this notion that our success with social media is directly connected to our fan growth.

fans

Well, thankfully, that attitude is starting to be replaced by a more engagement-focused mindset. In other words, marketers are realizing that it’s much more advantageous to have 1000 raving fans who are engaging with our content than to have 10,000 fans who don’t even know what we do or why they liked our page in the first place.

Make sure you’re focusing on the right metrics. For the most part, the brands that can consistently get people to take action will be the winners for the foreseeable future.

5. Pay-to-play or fade away

Lastly, I’m going to end on the most controversial point of all. Social media advertising! Gasp! We’ve all probably met an “organic marketing purist.” You know, the marketers who absolutely positively will never ever pay one cent to advertise their social channels. Ugh.

I’m sorry, but the days of a purely organic social strategy are quickly disappearing. Yes, it could work if you’re Coca-Cola or Disney, but for most of us, we’re going to have to pay-to-play.

social-ads

I’m not talking about breaking the bank on social advertising. Rather, think about social ads as an efficient way to get your engagement engine started. Running a small social ads campaign can be especially helpful for new brands who are looking to get that initial burst of exposure.

So if you’re not at least testing social advertising (especially on Facebook), you’re really missing out on a whole new untapped market.

What do you think?

Well, there you have it. Times are changing. That’s not a bad sign. The important part is to keep up on trends like the ones I’ve outlined above, and use other best practices to keep your social media campaigns running strong. Keep learning, keep testing, and keep challenging new ideas as well.

In fact, I’m waiting to hear your thoughts on what I’ve covered in this post. Jump into the conversation below or on Twitter and let’s hear what you have to say about where social media marketing is headed!

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Profile photo of Nicholas Scalice

Nicholas Scalice

Founder at Earnworthy
Nicholas is an inbound marketing consultant and the founder of Earnworthy. He focuses on helping brands get attention, gain trust, and generate sales using powerful inbound marketing tools and technology.
  • Very informative article and I agree that times are changing with Social Media. What would work a couple of years ago doesn’t seem to work now.

    I think its great that Social Media is moving forward and becoming more of a rapid communication media than before. I know one of the reasons I started using Twitter years ago, was due to the newsfeed aspect of it. I loved getting tweets about the news or the weather instantly on my phone.

    I am not so sure about my opinion of Facebook. It still seems to me to be more of dumping ground for your photos that you want friends and family to see eventually. I personally would not use Facebook to communication instantly with someone. Twitter seems to be better for that.

    I would compare Instagram to Facebook. More of a storage site.

    I havent used Snapchat so I don’t have an opinion on it.

    I seem to have had more success with Google+ with getting my message noticed. It just seems to be a faster media than the Facebook, or Instagram.

    Thanks for the article.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Rob. Yes, times are certainly changing. Each social network has its pros and cons. I would encourage you to give Snapchat a try, just to get a feel for how it might benefit your business. I was very skeptical at first as well, but I think we’re going to see Snapchat play a larger role for marketers in the years ahead. Be well.

  • Great post. I agree that more brands will have to “pay to play” on FB… I have recently started doing this, but will learn more as time goes on. I have also heard fabulous things about the benefits of Snapchat, something I haven’t started using. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and G+ are the social media channels I use with moderate success, so far. It is an on going progress…

    • Hi Candace! Glad to hear you liked the post. Yes, and it’s not to say you cannot still get tremendous value without paying. But if you really want to take your campaigns to the next level, spending wisely is often an key component of your strategy. Good luck with your marketing (and happy Snapchatting)!

  • Well it’s actually quite fascinating that even though Instagram started 4 years ago and it’s turned into this powerhouse for marketing. Two years ago there was this huge boom in Instagram marketing tactics and it’s really quite surprising that in such a short time it’s turned into an ad-hoc pay-to-play platform. Jen Selter, notable Instagram influencer, charges up to $US20k to do shout-outs or feature a product.

    I’m really curious as to what will happen a few years from now when Instagram tries to monetise itself. Will it go the way of Facebook where you can create a personal or a business account? Or is it going to be more like Twitter where it’s just…whatever it’s doing.

  • There is a great deal of truth to this article. I don’t find it shocking at all. Truthfully, pay to play makes more sense simply because it’s more easily measured.

    That said, what I don’t hear anyone talking about is the danger of allowing the hyper-segmentation that has developed from these technologies.

    When social media only shows you more of what you already like there is nothing to challenge your perspective or point of view. This is dangerous – we need to be challenged and presented with differing perspectives.

    • Hi Kate, Thanks for reading and commenting! You bring up a very interesting point. A few years back, many folks were worried about “content overload” and there being too much noise due to content marketing and social media. What you mention, with hyper-segmentation can be just as important. We will probably hear more about it in the months and years ahead.