Over the past five years, content marketing has exploded thanks to easy promotion channels like Twitter and Facebook. Businesses could quickly knock out 500 words, publish it on their own blog, and promote it to their fans across social channels. Reach was large and the engagement was high. As marketers, we got utterly addicted. But these social networks are ever-evolving beasts and what worked then, does not work now.
Lets look at what's changed and how can we, as marketers and businesses, get a positive ROI on social?
The first thing you need to understand is the life cycle of tech adoption.
With any new technology, there are always risks and uncertainties. It's the 'innovators' that will jump on new tech first. They are the ones that understand supply-demand economics and are continually looking to test new opportunities; despite the risks.
As more social proof becomes apparent; more businesses jump onboard. These early-stage adopters that generally have a small, agile team that can apply resource and test new channels quickly.
After a more extended period of proving out the platform; we see larger, slower, organisations and corporates, starting to test the waters. Test campaigns, usually spear-headed by agencies, take place with promotional budgets more significant than the annual social spend of the average SME.
The market is now flooded with 'every man and his dog'. SMEs have ramped up content production, and the fight for reach is pushed to breaking point.
There is now over 5 million businesses are advertising on Facebook each month, Reuters reports. The platform is now at the mature stage. Corporates are spending millions of dollars on promotion which is hiking the price of reach. As the price goes up and reach goes down, so too does your ROI.
So is Facebook dead for businesses?
It's not dead entirely but if you want a positive ROI, then you have to change your strategy to better align with the changing Facebook landscape.
- There is now so much content that Facebook has a massive problem trying to deliver the most relevant posts to each user. So much so that last year Mark announced a 0% organic reach for business page posts. Facebook is now entirely pay-to-play for businesses. Which also renders Page followers useless.
- Spend is going up; reach is going down. SMEs are now competing against massive corporate social budgets.
- Sharing is one user behaviour that has changed dramatically. No longer are people sharing via article share buttons. Broadcast sharing is dead. Research from various sources reveals that dark sharing (private sharing via chat apps email etc) are now making up somewhere between 70-85% of content sharing.
So how can you re-align your content and social strategies for this new content world?
- Create high-quality content based on your unique value proposition. In this world of content, you need to stand out. What makes you different? What can you add that's different to anyone else? The more effort you put into creating high-quality content, the better the engagement you're going to get.
- Go niche. You need to create content for your niche and also focus on promoting it to your niche. Don't pay for broad content promotion. Aim for quality, not quantity.
- Encourage dark sharing. If people are sharing URLs, then encourage that. Share via email and messenger buttons will likely get used more than generic social share buttons.
Look at content promotion outside of Facebook.
- Guest posting and garnering inbound links are still a significant factor when it comes to search engine ranking. Get your articles on other blogs.
This part of inbound marketing has always frustrated marketers. Cold email reach-out is soul destroying work. However, there is a better way to do guest posting. Contento allows you to offer your content to a network of reputable publishers. It removes the whole out-reach process. Every marketer's dream! Go try it out.
- LinkedIn. Despite being around for years, LinkedIn has not been as well adopted as Facebook. But more and more people are regularly engaging on content in LInkedIn. It's no longer a reach-out tool for salespeople, and it's not oversaturated with content. If you're B2B, then you might find your ROI much better here than Facebook.
- Quora is another excellent platform to test. Being an active participant in Quora can drive traffic to your site. It seems that users on Quora are a bit more techie, but you can find quality leads from this platform, no matter your industry.
Facebook is in its mature stage of life. It's only going to get harder, and more expensive, to break through the noise and reach your target market.
You need to re-align your content and social strategy to the current rules and behaviours. No business should rely on one channel to sell through. You should regularly be testing new strategies across different platforms. Stay one step ahead of your competitors. What tools and platforms are they not using? That's where you'll get the best ROI.
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