6 reasons why social media is for branding and engagement and not for sales and revenue!

in this video I'll tell you why social media is for branding and engagement, not traffic and revenue.

social media is constantly changing. it used to be a one-to-many channel. brands would publish links, photos and videos on digg, delicious, reddit, and later facebook, twitter, pinterest, and instagram and could drive a high number of leads and sales.

when we first started using social media, there was less content, less noise and people were willing to click on almost everything they saw in their news feeds.

then, like we always do, the marketers showed up and we ruined a good thing. sorry if that offends you social media marketers out there. but the truth is the truth. anytime we get a beautiful thing, it's very often marketers and advertisers that ruin it.

there is now way more content on social media platforms than folks can consume and a huge amount of that content is sales driven posts and ads. if a post doesn't look organic, interesting or useful, people now just scroll right past it. as traffic sources, twitter, facebook, instagram, and pinterest have become so challenging to drive organic traffic from, that it's now rare to find a brand that can use social media solely as an organic source for leads and sales. the organic clicks are just so much harder to come by now.

social media is now a one-to-few channel. it's only the brands who can afford to create ridiculously amazing content or who cultivate one-to-one relationships with their fans can succeed organically. it's the brands and companies who provide personalized social media experiences for their fans that are succeeding on social media.

and please know: in this context I am talking 100% about organic, authentic relationships. this has nothing to do with paid promotions, paid posts, or ads on social media platforms. pay to play is the reality on facebook and instagram now and all the social media platforms have advertising platforms available for those who can integrate paid into their marketing mix and can afford them. you can still kind of get decent organic growth on platforms like pinterest, twitter, YouTube and linkedin..., but don't count on that forever either.

with that said, let's talk about six reasons that engagement is the future of social media.

1) for most brands, social media is solely a tool for conversations.

social media is often seen as a solution to every marketing problem. it's fine for certain aspects of marketing like brand awareness. but here's a little truth for you: social media is not going to help you achieve every business or marketing goal that you have. if you aren't diversified with your marketing mix, you need to get on that yesterday. i'm talking about that email list that's collecting dust in your mailchimp account and that sad SEO consultant who you stopped inviting to your weekly meetings because you we too busy working with pseudo-influencers who don't actually move any needles.

social media influencers are the fyre fest of marketing... i'm just going to put that out there and let it fester...

still, many people still want to know how social media relates to driving traffic.

buckle up, here's a little more truth for you: organic social media is not going to be a good traffic driver for most brands today or for the foreseeable future. spraying and praying with your marketing messages across various platforms might have been an effective way to drive clicks from digg, reddit, and delicious but it's just not an effective strategy anymore with the platforms we're focused on. and for me, that's just fine because I've always used social media as an engagement channel, not a lead generation tool.

now, if you can get your head right with this, and if you can quit expecting to move mountains in a week, it can open up some great new opportunities for you that can give you an advantage over your competition. for instance, customer service is well-served via channels like facebook messenger, instagram direct and twitter direct message. consumers are heading to these channels 1st in many cases to be heard by brands they buy from and you'd be wise to embrace it with them.

2) people use social media to reach brands.

social media is the first place a lot of people turn to for customer support. and more and more people are using social media to get help from brands. folks are not only using private social media channels such as facebook messenger, instagram direct messages, or twitter direct messages to reach brands for help. people also leave comments on posts on facebook & instagram and reply to tweets to get help.

think about this: being responsive on social media prompts customers to purchase. while ignoring customers does what you might imagine, it brings about less brand loyalty from customers. that's enough evidence to make you care about how customer service in integral to social media. and if it doesn't, well you might be dead inside.

i think about all the opportunities that have been opened up to me by just having a conversation with a potential customer: whether they're mad, sad, happy, upset whatever it is. there's so many opportunities to provide more value.

it's easier to help your customers on social media. so you have no excuse not to be doing this.

and the platforms are aware of this as they are developing more customer service tools every day to help brands respond to their customers. you want some examples?

a) you can let customers send you a direct message on twitter without them needing to follow you or you needing to follow them.

b) you can send automated welcome direct messages on twitter and prompt folks with the best ways to reply.

c) you can manage all of your facebook messenger and instagram interactions in one unified inbox.

d) you can use smart replies to automatically answer frequently asked questions for your facebook page.

3) low organic reach and referral traffic.

organic reach on social media has fallen so low that social media has become a less viable channel for traffic across the board for most brands. brands are reaching fewer folks on social media and getting less traffic from social media PERIOD. many big brands have seen a huge fall in facebook referral traffic in particular, some by 75% or more.

the amount of content on social media has increased to a point where it's well beyond what we can consume. each social media post is less and less likely to be seen. over the past couple years we've seen a 10X increase in posting from brands because they are trying to break through the noise of all the additional content being posted but, people simply cannot consume more content.

consider this as a weak example with math: if 100 posts are published per day for every social media user but each user can only consume 10 posts per day, each post has a 10% chance of being seen. now: if the number of posts published per day increases to 1,000, but each user can only consume the same 10 posts per day, each post now only has a 1% chance of being seen because of...math. this is in effect what has happened to organic content on social media over the last few years.

facebook organic reach fell to about 4% throughout 2016-2017 and is now well, well under 1% per post because facebook continues to tweak its algorithm to prioritize posts from family and friends over brand pages.

so social media is losing its potential as an organic traffic channel as more and more content is posted on each platform by brands who are posting more content so their content can possibly break thru the additional noise from content being posted by other brands who are posting more content so their content can possibly break thru the additional noise from content being posted by other brands who are posting more content so their content can possibly break thru the additional noise from content being posted by other brands who are posting more content so their content can possibly break thru the additional noise from content being posted by other brands who are posting more content so their content can possibly break thru the additional noise from content being posted by other brands who are posting more content so...[looks at floor]

the point is: organic traffic from social media has been going down for years. you're just not going to get the reach or visibility you did in the past as brands and marketers you have no choice but to adapt.

4) the rise of social messaging and chat bots.

while social media has been the dominant platform over the last 5 to 10 years, social messaging apps like facebook messenger and instagram direct are growing much faster than social media platforms. there are now more folks using the top four messaging apps than people using the top four social media sites.

the rise of social messaging signifies a change in folks' behaviors and preferences towards more personal one-to-one communications. when folks view social media, they are no longer just thinking about the posts on their news feed, they're also thinking about reaching your business for customer support through twitter, receiving timely information or ordering products through a facebook messenger chatbot, and all the other communications that come through these messaging apps.

brands that only push out marketing content on social media will miss out on this massive opportunity to serve customers in meaningful ways and might be left obsolete on social media.

5) algorithms prioritize engagement.

engagement is a key indicator of the quality of your content. does your content elicit positive responses from your fans? for the social media platform algorithms to prioritize your content to be seen and heard on social media organically, you must create content that engages your fans. the number of engagements on your social media posts highly influences the number of people who will see them. if lots of folks engage with your content, the platform algorithm will take it as a sign that your post is interesting and will more likely show that post to more people.

i learned a long time ago that the shorter path to success is learning what those who you depend upon for your success need to be successful themselves, and to help them get there. so it might help for you to step into the shoes of the platform for just a second. what do you think they need to be successful? they need attention and eyeballs. they need people to linger on that page where they are displaying ads. they need people to be captive to their platform.

now - what keeps users captive on their platform so they can sell more ad space? I'll give you one guess... it's interesting, engaging content!

if you go look deeper into this and study the search algorithms on these different sites, you'll get a lot more information. but to boil it down, if there are just a few interactions or a lot of negative interactions on a piece of your content, the social media algorithms will assume that it's uninteresting, irrelevant or not useful, and show it to fewer folks.

so the more positive interactions on your post, the more people you will reach on social media. ok... i feel like i'm beating a dead horse at this point. either you get that or you don't.

if, after this explanation your ultimate goal on social media is still traffic leads or conversions, it's tough for the average brand but if you break it down to what's gonna drive traffic, leads, and conversions, it's still engagement. that's your top priority. it's not rocket science here folks: the more interactions a brands content has overall, the higher the traffic to its website.

so how do we get there? if you think about the kind of posts that get interactions, you can't be lazy and just post a bunch of links. you have to do everything you possibly can to get those interactions and engagements up and that's a new video i'll need to make.

6) the value of engagement.

if there isn't a strong direct revenue from social media, why waste your time?

the primary reason to be on social media is to build your brand through engagement.

brand-building is important because a customer's journey with brands is almost never linear. most customers rarely go from an instagram post, to your website from the link in your profile, (by the way, "link in profile" is a joke, cut it out), then to your checkout, to purchase.

it's more like, someone hears about your product through a friend. on the same day that customers sees your facebook posts, enjoys the content; later they reference about you in a blog post. the following week the customer searches on google and see your brand via a retargeted ad. maybe they recognize your brand and tweet you a question about your products. you replied to them promptly and then they decide to order the product from your website. now, this is a simplified version of an actual customer journey but it's still a good frame of reference.

next...

why else is social media important? 85% of folks have to see something on social media more than once before they will purchase it. but don't overdo it: they will also unfollow you if you post too many promotional messages. so that's a delicate balance there.

by engaging your customers through timely customer support, one-to-one conversations, and interesting or helpful content, you can strengthen your brand image. then, when these customers are deciding if they should purchase, or continue to purchase from you, this brand equity that you've built up can help win them over. social media interactions increase customer loyalty.

consumers who engage with their favorite brands on social media, have stronger relationships with those brands than consumers who don't engage at all. they have a better opinion of the brand, they leave more positive reviews, they stay loyal and keep being paying customers longer, and then also they recommend the brands more to others. and that third-party validation is gold for a brand!

when customers trust your brand, they're more likely to give you their email address, attend a live event, or purchase your product when you ask them to.