Social media has reinvented itself in many guises over the years. Whether it's Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, the relationship between all of these networks can be reduced to a single word: connectivity.
Social networks offer their users the opportunity to connect with people all over the world. As mobile technology and internet access becomes more accessible worldwide, we are beginning to see the way we engage, interact and share information with one another transform into a major digital medium. It was only a matter of time before companies and brands began online marketing strategies to engage the newly forming cross platforming of social media platforms.
The Past, the Present and the Future of Social Media Marketing
In the beginning, marketing was purely organic. Brands would create online personas to reach beyond the boundaries of more traditional media as an attempt to communicate with their audience ‘face to face’. This proved a successful strategy, and social networks began to want a way to monetize this commercial interest. Facebook was the first to pounce on the commercial interest it attracted. By launching an advertising platform back in 2005 it sparked companies like LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter to follow in Facebook's footsteps over the next decade.
In 2016, social advertising is becoming so advanced that it has sparked a growing belief in the online marketing world that the ‘death’ of organic reach has begun. The high demand for social networks allows them to collect rich data on their users. Data which brands can use to better market to their consumers, with almost pin-point accuracy. In a short space of time, online marketing has become big business. Recent reports project it to raise $11billion in revenue in 2017. However, is organic reach really obsolete? Or does this shift indicate an opportunity for online marketing pros to adapt their strategies to the current climate?
Social Advertising in a Nutshell
The overwhelming positive reach of online marketing is all over social media sites. Effective targeting criteria allows businesses and brands to place advertisements about their products and services directly in the line of sight of their desired audience. Consumers literally must scroll through advertisements while scrolling their timelines now. Besides the lower costs of online marketing versus traditional media such as TV, print and radio, the specificity with which businesses can define their advertisement’s audience plays a large part in targeting where their online marketing budget is allocated.
Online marketing is great for driving specified traffic to your page. As a general rule, paid media reach on social networks is more effective than creating organic advertisements. Businesses are able to analyze data from a previous online marketing campaign performance and use those findings to optimize future campaigns. This makes online marketing much easier, but what is easiest isn’t always what is best. For short-term wins, paid social is a costly, but effective way to drive mass awareness and conversions. However, building a loyal following of repeat customers is more than just a analytic game.
A great paid strategy is one that is supplemented with strong organic content to help form a strong consumer-brand relationship. Organic content is an easy way for a potential customer to learn about a company’s character. Paid social may get them through the door, but if your organic content isn’t informative, captivating and helpful. Or especially if it is non-existent, potential leads will be lost.
The Inside Scoop on Organic Social Media
Social media profiles are a constantly evolving opportunity to tell a story about your brand or business and connect with customers in a meaningful and effective way. Info-graphics, photos, video content, blog articles, reviews and customer service are all apart of a strong organic online marketing mix. Facebook’s 1 billion users alone share more than 4.75 billion items of content every day. However, there is a set back in the form of Facebook’s new algorithm which seeks to keep its users’ news feeds friend focused and less brand focused.
There’s no denying social networks have become flooded with brands that ran to social media in search of profits. When the companies began setting up shop in social media platforms, they proceeded to pump out poor-quality, boring content that was of little value to anyone. A recently introduced Geo-targeting feature and an algorithm which favors content people actually spend time reading suggests a move by Facebook to improve the relevance and authenticity of content their users see.This may seem obvious, but for brands to get ahead, they must start by publishing high quality content.
Last year, Twitter reported a 20% increase in organic search traffic. That's a boost of more than 35 million monthly visits. This increase is most likely due to a deal Twitter recently made with Google to make real-time tweets display in the search engine results pages. The growth in organic search traffic is countered by a 6.5% drop in bounce rate, which hints thar visitors found what they were looking for and, moreover, indicates that consumers have an interest in what brands have to say on Twitter. This, combined with the new timeline algorithm, places higher importance on engagement levels and relevancy in organic content.
What Do Algorithms Mean for your Business?
All this information means a lot for the survival of your business or brand. However, the short answer is really it means whatever you want it to mean. Both organic and paid methods have their pros and cons, and either can be the more appropriate choice depending on a particular goal.
A successful social strategy is one that treats organic and paid content equally and uses the two strategies to create one powerful campaign. Paid social is a highly effective way to drive traffic, and most of your content will need a paid push to reach the right audience in the beginning. However, delivering quality content that is relevant to your target audience is key to driving engagement and organic reach. Facebook’s relevance score is a useful indication of how well your content resonates with your audience. The higher the relevance score a piece of content has, the more likely it is to attract an audience that will interact with it. Although attracting this audience will require an initial paid boost, the higher your content’s relevance score is, the more likely it is to revive engagement. The more people who engage with your content, the more it will be shown on the news feed. This has the double benefit of reducing Cost Per Click and driving engagement more likely to translate into organic reach.
Increase Your Organic Reach With Online Marketing
- QUALITY CONTENT CONTROL – Ask yourself, ‘Does this post provide value to the reader and/or will it receive high engagement?’. High quality and relevant content stays in a user’s feed for longer, so aim for quality over quantity.
- STUDY THE CONTENT SPLIT – If 80% of your posts are about your product and only 20% for engagement purposes, consider leveling out the split to prevent audience drop-off and boost your presence in their news feeds.
- TAKE NOTES! – Make a point of researching social media trends within your industry. Is there a particular time of day your audience is more engaged? Or a certain kind of content they’re more likely to interact with? Your competitors are your greatest resource for this, so take note.
An intelligently balanced approach of paid and organic methods can help grow a loyal customer base with high lifetime value and positive word of mouth, whilst generating wide exposure for your business. Organic content can also serve as a cost-effective means to road-test content you may later decide to put budget behind. Identifying trends in engagement and interaction with your organic content can inform your paid strategy. The first step in mastering organic content creation is using a tool that facilitates team collaboration and allows great ideas to flourish. Take a look at some of the brands whose social media marketing you admire – their success hasn’t happened by accident. It’s a result of teams working together in a structured way to create, plan and nurture a social presence people want to follow.
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