I predict that many CMOs will diminish their support for social media, content and earned media marketing in the next year or two, and when they do, some people's careers will be adversely impacted. If your career relies on Marketing Department support for content or social media marketing, now is the time to take stock of the trends and consider some alternatives to protect your career. You may work at the right sort of company for which social media is well aligned for Marketing Department expectations---that's the "Unless" part of the title--but I believe this is the exception and not the rule.
We entered the social media era suggesting that brands with something to say could use social media to say it; instead, we today have brands with little to say that nonetheless post 4.3 times per day because some consultant told them this was a best practice. Desperate for attention and relevance, these companies continue to invest in content that is neither delivering the scale marketers need nor the content consumers want.
Ironically, even for the best companies, earned media may whither and die in the coming years. In just six months, organic reach on Facebook was halved, and many expect that zero organic reach will soon be the rule on the social network that collects 57% of all social visits. The organic reach game has gotten so tough that Coca-Cola, one of the strongest brands in the world, only earns engagement with 1 in 100,000 of its fans with its Facebook posts. The situation on Twitter is no better; recent Forrester report notes that the average engagement rate with brand posts on Twitter is just 0.03% (that is 75% less than banner ad clickthough rates today!)
Earned media could soon be a thing of the past. What happens to your social media marketing investment if the content you post reaches absolutely no one?
If the prospect of organic reach crumbling to nothing isn't enough to worry about, social media marketing has a variety of other problems marketers must stop ignoring:
- Trust: Forrester's 2014 data reveals that people trust brand social media posts 40% less than they do information on brand websites. Adobe's 2013 research found the same--just 2% of US consumers found company social media page best for credibility compared to 17% for company web sites.
- Acquisition of prospects: Studying data from 86 retailers and 72 million customers, Custora found that Facebook and Twitter deliver essentially zero acquisition. Facebook and Twitter account for just 0.2% and 0.01% respectively.
- Purchase: An IBM study of the online sales generated by 800 retailer websites on Black Friday 2013 and the week prior found that a mere 1% was generated from social media traffic. And Monetate recently published its Q2 Ecommerce Quarterly based on 7 billion online shopping experiences--it found that social delivers an add-to-cart rate of just 0.6% (70% less than search) and a minuscule conversion rate of 0.12% (70% lower than search).