A few nights ago I received a call from a luxury boutique asking for social media help. In an effort to dig deeper I asked, “what are your goals”? Like most people, Alex wanted more followers and engagement. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? It’s great for optics, but how do you stand out in a world where people are buying followers, likes, and comments? More importantly, how do you leverage social media to generate revenue for your brand now and in the FUTURE?
Who should be worried
In 2019 my friend Mark Schaefer wrote an article that made some really interesting points about the direction of social media. The point I found most significant was the fact that social media channels favor content hosted on their own platforms. For example, YouTube videos on Facebook aren’t as visually appealing as Facebook videos on Facebook. Social media platforms are making it easier for users to make purchases, submit reviews, and access web content within their own ecosystem. You can even see Google moving in this direction. In the good ole days, Google was only interested in being the webs information highway, now, they’re making it easier for users to find answers within search results, without users having to click through to a web page.
So what’s the objective for these online monopolies? They want you to click on more paid ads and less on organic content. If you’re an influencer or content creator relying on FREE marketing strategies, you may want to reconsider your approach.
The United States of Facebook
You probably know the Facebook story, how Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues started an online social network for their fellow Harvard classmates in 2004. Fast-forward to 2020 (wow, it’s only been 16 years?), and Facebook has over 2.5 billion active monthly users making it the largest nation in the world.
To access this union, you have to play by their rules, and they can change them at any time. Remember how easy it was to be seen by your followers on Facebook? Now less than 1% of the people that gave you permission to market to them (by liking your page) see the content you post. However, if you’re willing to pay a tariff (Facebook ads), you can gain access to Facebook’s massive market.
Not only is Facebook a nation, it’s also an empire, with nation-states like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger, with a body of people larger than China.
What 5G will Mean for Marketers
Have you ever imagined a world without smartphones? Do you remember what it was like before mobile technology? How did we even communicate or find our friend’s house?
As 5g continues to roll out, a time is coming when we will no longer need smartphones or apps. With competition on the rise between China and the U.S., a time is coming when you will no longer need your iPhone to order an Uber, a connected camera outside of your home will use face recognition to connect you to a manless Volvo to take you to the destination of your choice.
This technology may not be prevalent in the next year, but it’s coming and it will consume those who don’t get in front of it. Knowing this, marketers should position themselves for the future of marketing instead of what’s now the past.
What’s next for Social Media
We’ve known for a while that video is the next big thing in digital marketing. We see it on Instagram, Facebook, and now virtual assistants. So what’s next for social media? I call it “hands-free media”. You won’t need fingers or a mouse to access the content of the future. All you will need is your voice.
Yesterday I had 30 unread emails with no time to possibly read them all. So conveniently I asked my Alexa device to read them for me. Later in the day, I asked “Hey Google” for the most unique valentines experience in Chicago, and the name and address of the place were conveniently added to my calendar.
If you’re still trying to outsmart the algorithms in 2020, my advice would be to “get with the program”. The market is oversaturated with digital gurus still trying to get in front of people for free. If you have a true following, groups, apps, and boards are the way to go (for now). The only good reason for people to leave the comfort of their social media platform is to get more detailed information about your brand and the services you provide.
YouTube has been demonetizing its content creators at scale and Facebook has long ago forced marketers to pay to be seen. Instagram is next. The “free economy” is going away, in the future, you’re going to have to build a real brand.
Don’t worry Take Action
The good news is that very few people are heeding the coming reality, so there’s no better time than now to start positioning your brand for the future of marketing. You’ll reap the benefits even today. Start investing in little things like creating more video and audio content. Create blog posts and articles that answer questions and address challenges. Embrace the reality that — just as the internet became an economy of its own, sub economies like Facebook, Google, and TikTok are emerging — and to penetrate their markets you have to become a citizen.