Social media marketing is not broken

hypeThe headline in the Wall Street Journal said it all “Brands Are Wasting Money on Facebook and Twitter, Forrester Says”.  “You don’t really have a social relationship with your customers,” analyst Nate Elliott wrote in a new report titled “Social relationship Strategies That Work.”

According to Mr. Elliott, top brands’ Facebook and Twitter posts only reach around 2% of their fans and followers, and less than 0.1% of fans and followers actually interact with each post on average. What’s more, Facebook announced last week that another tweak to its news feed algorithm will soon make it even less likely brands’ unpaid posts will actually be seen by users.

“It’s clear that Facebook and Twitter don’t offer the relationships that marketing leaders crave. Yet most brands still use these sites as the centerpiece of their social efforts — thereby wasting significant financial, technological, and human resources on social networks that don’t deliver value,” Mr Elliott wrote. “It’s time for marketers to start building social relationship strategies around sites that can deliver value.”

Social-Media

Now let’s be transparent; Mr Elliot has never been a fan of Facebook and has used his position at Forrester to consistently trash the social network.  However, there is a lot of truth to what he says.

Facebook’s announced on Friday that is going to reduce the organic reach of brands’ “promotional” page posts even further from January. In addition, Facebook has made it really easy to stop following brands in personal news feeds.  Facebook, it seems, is making money hand over fist with ads and therefore wants more ad money, but are they then just another ad network?

I would argue that Facebook has done a great job in supplying the audience, but marketers have done a worse job in engaging people with the content they actually want to read.  Instead of broadcasting sales messages the brands that are successful on Facebook are the ones that actually listen and respond to people in Internet time.

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Then there is Twitter.  More and more I am seeing paid Tweets in my timeline that have no relevance to me as a marketer and business person.  More importantly, I can’t unfollow or hide these promotional Tweets quickly.  No wonder the social networks stock has gone down.  People who step away from the Internet for a while are likely to find their Twitter feed jammed with hundreds of Tweets and who has the time to read them all?

So will marketers fall out of love with social media and the ego driven consultants who feature their pictures on their BLOG and write books while getting their ego’s stroked by requests for interviews?  Probably not.  You see a lot of these people have not actually worked on brands where they have to show REAL results.  Social media is not broken; it’s just coming back to Earth and flaming out.