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Why Social Media Marketers Need to Grow Up – Here’s Why #174

In recent months things got tougher for social media marketers. In an effort to crack down on rampant fraud, fake accounts, and fake news, social networks have restricted or eliminated many actions that marketers used to exploit.
In this episode of our popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Perficient Digital’s Mark Traphagen claims these changes are a good thing, because they will finally force social media marketers to grow up and have to act like REAL marketers, not hackers or tricksters.

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Eric: Mark, what’s going on in social media marketing?
Mark: What isn’t going on. I mean, I’ve been following social media for as long as there’s been social media and I’ve never seen so much disruption at the same time, especially for marketers.
Eric: So, can you give some examples?
Mark: Well, sure. The biggest and most obvious is everything happening with Facebook. As recently as a year ago, who would’ve expected we’d see the unstoppable behemoth reeling as much as it is now.
Of course, there were all of the privacy scandals, the users finding out their data had been used by outsiders who had no permission to have it or use it, all the revelations about how foreign powers may have used Facebook to try to disrupt our elections. On top of that, starting earlier this year, Facebook began more severely restricting the organic reach of most pages, and soon after that removed many popular ad targeting options.
Eric: And that’s just Facebook.
Mark: Right. Facebook’s many woes weren’t the only blows to social marketers.
Twitter outlawed the practice of bulk posting to multiple accounts, a major BuzzSumo study showed that social sharing per post is down by half since 2015 and evidence is strong that more online users are turning to so-called “dark social,” engaging with their friends in ways that are difficult to impossible for marketers to see, such as private messaging networks.
Now, there’s a lot more bad news but I’ll stop there before it gets too depressing.
Eric: Thanks. So is it time to just get out of social media marketing?
Mark: Well, that almost certainly has been the response of some to all of this. I’ve already seen marketers saying “social media marketing is dead.”
Eric: That sounds familiar.
Mark: I know what you’re thinking. In fact, in my Marketing Land column earlier this year, I compared what’s happening in social now to what SEO has been going through for years.
Eric: Right, I mean it used to be fairly easy to do effective SEO with tricks, and hacks, and even outright deceptions. But then Google cracked down, put smarter algorithms in place and the easy road all but disappeared.
Mark: And so it goes now with social media. Social platforms are finally being forced to close down loopholes of wide-open features that made them and their users vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation. That means that many of the growth hacks and standard practice automations and tricks social marketers were relying upon no longer work.
Eric: And now, it’s time for them to grow up.
Mark: Or get out.
Eric: Yah, harsh.
Mark: Well, maybe but that is the reality. I don’t think social media marketing is dead, but to succeed in the current situation, social marketers have to mature into real marketers. That is, they need to understand the fundamentals of marketing that apply no matter the medium, and learn how to do them in social.
Eric: So, what are some specific things marketers should be doing then to be more grown up on social media?
Mark: One would be to come up with better top of the funnel strategies. It’s become harder to reach a specific audience with organic reach on most social platforms, and even with paid ads on Facebook, so you have to think more creatively and intelligently about how to attract and keep an audience in the first place.
The content you post has to do a better job of grabbing a user’s attention and providing them with something of value, and/or attracting them to come to your site or look at your offer. Marketers will also have to get better at things social does more effectively than any other marketing channel, engaging an audience and providing personalized value and service. Those are the things that social marketers have always given lip-service to, but now, it’s more critical to actually do them.
Eric: So, do you have more ideas to share?
Mark: Well, I have a lot more, but I’m going to refer our viewers to our Marketing Land column. There you’ll learn more about what’s disrupting social media, get more of my thoughts on how to grow up into a real, effective social media marketer.

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Thoughts on “Why Social Media Marketers Need to Grow Up – Here’s Why #174”

  1. Hi Mark,
    You have done a very good job of explaining about social media marketers, this may help many social media marketer to improve their work to reach their goal.
    Thanks for sharing this…

  2. Hi guys, great post.
    Do you think that this is a permanent shift or just a bump in the road. Long term, data will continue to be the currency that the public use to pay for access. Facebook, Google etc. will have to find a way of communicating this fact to the public at large.
    I understand that former social marketers will have to adapt in some some ways. But I can’t see it getting more difficult and in years to come maybe a little roll back, especially from Facebook.

  3. Mark Traphagen

    Great question, Adam. I do think it is a permanent shift. Of course, how it will work out in the details will adapt over time. But I stand by my overall thesis that just as happened for SEO, the era of tricks and hacks as standard practice for social media marketing is over, at least for anyone trying to build a sustainable business. Like Google, Facebook and Twitter realize they only have a business if the public trusts them. They are going to be much more cautious henceforth in guarding that trust than they have been in the past.

  4. If there is a large-scale, worldwide clampdown by Governments on data how do see business models evolving?
    In the public mind I think personal data and demographic data has become one and the same thing. And I don’t think that either Google or Facebook have done a very good job of separating what they collect (ie. the sites you visit, purchases etc.) from private info. your phone number, email address etc. things they don’t share with advertisers .
    As we know, Google is super secretive but a PR campaign explaining how Adwords works and what, for example retargeting is would do a lot of good.
    I would just like to see some honesty…
    “This is how we make money | If we didn’t do this we would have to charge you X per month for email, search and social media access | We don’t share data, we allow marketers to push advertising material to demographic groups they choose.”
    Instead, out of fear of a clampdown or backlash, they went apology crazy. They’re not sorry, it’s their business model.
    The public has lost a lot of trust in Google and Facebook especially. But only I think because the public never really understood what was going on, not because they ever lied.
    Good chatting, Adam

  5. Mark Traphagen

    Any online business that uses user data combined with algorithms to do either content ranking or advertising targeting faces a challenge to provide enough information so content creators or advertisers can make use of the platform in a way that benefits themselves, the platform, and its users, but at the same time not so much information that their systems can be easily gamed.
    The specific troubles that Google and Facebook each faced recently are related but still different. For Google, their worries have been more about warding off potential government regulations, restrictions, and penalties. While those things concern Facebook as well, their biggest troubles have been over bad press about how their data has been misused in the past, even if Facebook wasn’t directly doing or intentionally allowing the misuse.

  6. I agree 100%. Have either done anything that wasn’t in their terms and conditions? I know very few, even in the industry, have ever read them. I know I haven’t.
    Interesting times ahead. SEO and creating 10X content is still the long term play. Maybe a web without advertising would really be something.Do remember 10 blue links as fondly as I do?
    Great chatting Mark. Thank you for the insight.

  7. Thanks Mark for such a clean explanation about social media marketers. It was very easy to understand and will surely be helpful in my line of work. Hope to learn more from your videos.

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Mark Traphagen

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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