For business, the quest continues for the perfect social media strategy. Unfortunately, the ugly truth is that this holy grail is one which will never be found. Sorry if that bursts your bubble, but it’s a solid conclusion. That doesn’t mean that you should abandon social media. On the contrary, your marketing strategy and budget would be a foolish waste of time if social weren’t a big part of them.
The Game Keeps Changing
This is the primary problem and challenge in social media marketing: as soon as you’ve figured out the rules and devised a strategy to win the game, the people controlling the game change the board and the rules. As long as you’re marketing through social channels, you’re at the mercy of the ever-morphing algorithm.
Facebook doesn’t exist to serve your business. It exists to serve Facebook’s interest. To think otherwise is ridiculous, like saying that your own business exists so that your customers can make more money at your expense. The hard reality is that your business, and every other business, are the social platform’s customers. All of the everyday ordinary people posting their cat videos and keeping in touch with the grandkids are nothing more than a part of that platform’s machinery for convincing the business owner to spend money with them.
As these platforms grow and mature, they will constantly change the way that everything works in an endless attempt to do what? Make money. They are a business, and making money is their goal. This is something that the users just don’t seem to understand or grasp, but as a business you must understand this at the deepest level or you’re wasting your time.
The Algorithms They Are A’Changing
It was once thought that the more followers and likes you had, the more clout you had and therefore the more money you could make on social. That may have been the case early on, but it’s now a myth of the distant past. The next evolution of strategy was that organic reach and great content was key. While great content will always be integral (because who wants to buy crappy products or read crappy stories?), the idea that organic reach is the goal is now also a memory.
That’s because the algorithms keep changing not to increase your organic reach, but to convince you that you won’t make it without paying the social platforms for advertising. And you should be convinced, because organic reach is constantly falling, by design, with each new algorithmic update. The only type of digital marketing that remains essentially unchanged is email marketing, which is unsurprisingly still the most effective method out there (despite the continual announcements that it’s dead). There’s no platform-controlled algorithm involved.
The Ultimate Social Strategy
Until things stabilise in this realm (which will happen right after pigs sprout wings), there is only one economically viable option: paying for social advertising. The numbers bear this out, and if you want to dig into the boring details this article does a good job of explaining them. It is far more profitable to pay for Facebook ads than to spend hours every day or week trying to stay ahead of the game, unless you’ve managed to organically break the one million follower mark. At that point things change slightly, but that doesn’t meant they will remain that way. The game is rigged, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
So the best plan of action for any brand with less than a million followers on any given platform is this: outsource your social media marketing to an agency that specialises in it and knows how to best use the paid advertising tools on the platforms, with the goal of converting as many followers as possible to an email subscription list. Editorialising and bias aside, this is going to ultimately give you the best ROI you could hope for.