Major platforms like Facebook and Instagram are no longer the low-cost, high-reach marketing tools they once were. Part of this is because users are getting more averse to these platforms, for reasons that include:
• Data collection (AKA spying on users and selling their personal info to advertisers)
• Disinformation and propaganda
• People disagree with what they perceive Facebook’s political agenda to be
These factors are driving usage away from Facebook, and toward tools like Telegram. However, they’re not the only reasons that Facebook is no longer a good marketing tool for small businesses. Two other important reasons include:
• Proprietary algorithms are meant to serve Facebook’s interests, not yours
• Marketing is so competitive on these platforms, you have to really invest to earn valuable leads
In this post, we explored how the modern algorithm limits your reach. Facebook can still be effective for some businesses, but the door is open for better tools, especially those that serve small businesses well.
This is a point well-supported by this article about why engagement is the future of social media. The salient point is that social media has trended away from engagement over the last several years, and it’s due for a correction.
The key to engagement: valuable content, meaningful dialogue
When it comes to marketing, especially for small businesses, engagement is everything. It doesn’t matter how many impressions you’re getting if none of them are going to qualified leads. You’re just wasting time and money. You need to reach the people who can get real value from your brand, and you need to impact them.
You impact them by not just advertising the value your products/services can provide, but by putting value in the content you post. But that’s only part of it – you also need to open up dialogue with your audience so that you can learn more about what they perceive to be valuable.
Take a content-driven marketing strategy, for instance: a useful dialogue would be one where you ask your customers what kind of content they want to get from you. This will make your customers feel heard and make it easier to provide them with valuable content. In other words, social media should be a relationship-building tool.
It’s getting harder and harder to reach your target audience on mainstream tools like Facebook. As this trend worsens, businesses will turn to other tools
The good side and bad side of data in marketing
The good side of data is that it helps use scape our false assumptions, provide our customers with better value, make informed decisions, and avoid investing in ideas that have little value on the real market. Data capture can:
• guide our content efforts
• tell us what is truly engaging our audience
• help us refine a content strategy that leverages our expertise
However, the usefulness of data is such that it’s become one of the most sought-after commodities by major corporations. As internet infrastructure and AI get more widespread and more advanced, data capture continues to scale up.
We all know at least a little bit about the dangers of unethical data capture. But growing public awareness doesn’t seem to stop the data-hungry tech conglomerates like Facebook and Google. Some users are walking away on principle, while others continue to feed the data machine simply because they don’t like the alternative tools that exist.
This is a growing problem, and tools that address it will grow in popularity. However, the Big Data machine isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. This means that big corporations with questionable morals will continue to plunder the treasure trove of data.
The sad part of this is that marketing on platforms like Facebook and Instagram is becoming what marketing was 30 years ago, in the era of Cable TV commercials and billboards: an expensive investment, with a high barrier to entry, that only provided a great ROI for those with big marketing budgets and massive customer bases.
The good news is that this creates a demand for alternatives. Rather than compete for user attention with powerhouses, small businesses are going to look to other tools. There is a future where data capture can be ethical, non-intrusive, transparent and in the user’s control.
What’s coming down the pipeline?
Opinions from social media marketing experts, and our own observations, seem to point to eight major trends for the future of social media marketing:
1. Better engagement
2. More value
3. Stronger sense of community
4. Better methods of ethical data collection
5. Incentives for sharing data
6. Localization (as indicated by “digital campfires”. Learn more about this concept in Sara Wilson’s article “The Era of Antisocial Media”)
7. Privacy (see Signal and Telegram)
8. Dialogue-driven content marketing
That’s why I think Telegram is the best tool available for social media marketing, at present. They accommodate all of the trends, with one major exception: data capture. The thing about Telegram is that it wasn’t designed with marketing in mind.
However, now that the way for private communication has been paved, we’re looking forward to seeing some privacy-oriented tools that are geared for marketing. Hopefully, these tools will include ethical data capture features that help businesses and other content creators to better engage with their audience.
What does this mean for your marketing strategy?
If you’re using social media for marketing, the best thing to do is familiarize yourself with the eight trends on the list above, and ask how you can support these with your social media strategy.
We also advise you to keep in mind the realization that you can build a powerful marketing funnel without social media. Every business ought to be using it in some capacity, but don’t let social media distract you from really investing in other strategies that offer a higher return, especially if you aren’t confident that your time and/or money are going to offer you a strong ROI on social media. Creating engaging content doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take time, thought, and a little bit of know-how.
Read hootsuite’s article on how the Facebook algorithm affects reach and engagement here:
Read salesforce’s article about the future of social media marketing here:
Social media examiner has this article about the trends to track in the future of social media:
This Harvard Business Review article discusses how the “digital campfire” trend is emerging out of the current landscape of “Antisocial media”:
This GoodRebels piece talks about engagement being the real commodity of social media: