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The New Social Reality

10.16.2017 / Posted in Social Media

Once upon a time, in a land not too far away, companies could spend time on social media—engaging with audiences, posting great information, creating fun videos and pictures and themes—and gather the likes, comments, and favorites needed to build brands and businesses with current customers, prospective clients, and the world at large.

We have bad news for you:

Those times are so far gone that they feel like a fairy tale.

Everyone realizes that social media was never free: Time is one of the most expensive resources, after all. Yet if you budgeted the time and attention, both were once enough to gain social media dividends.

Today, you still need to spend time and attention on social media (and perhaps even more than you did before, given the sheer volume of happenings on social media today and the proliferation of platforms from the classics like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to Pinterest and SnapChat and beyond).

And you need to spend money, too.

A SOCIAL MEDIA HISTORY LESSON

When social media began, the platforms focused on making their sites and apps as free and fun and addictive as possible to draw in as many people as possible. Even for businesses, social media felt relatively accessible and low-cost (if not low in time commitment).

The early days were never meant to last. After all, don’t forget that behind these platforms are companies. The user bases of the platforms they create and continue to adjust are their products—their offering—and their intent has always been to build enough of a quality product (enough users of all types, engaged for long enough, and returning often) to sell to your company. Further, they needed to get companies comfortable with the platform as well—and addicted to the types of results they got once upon a time.

Once social media got ingrained enough into users’ lives to have captured a critical mass of people spending enough time and energy on their platforms, the businesses behind them shifted to monetization. After all, what company can operate in the red for long?

Businesses like yours can still do things for free on social media platforms, but these social media platforms won’t display your hard work to as many people as they once did—yes, even people who have “liked” your company page and who have chosen to “follow” your account—without you paying for the exposure.

This means that you may have thousands of purported followers, but only a handful will see anything you post when you’re posting without paying.

The days of “free” social media are gone.

NEW ADVERTISING OFFERINGS AND TOOLS

Fortunately, social platforms have developed several new advertising offerings and tools to help ensure that savvy companies can reach the right users without breaking the bank.

(Note that we said “savvy”—these platforms are still perfectly happy to take your money for very little return on investment for you, if you’re not careful about how you allocate your budget and diligently manage your spend through tracking key metrics.)

Today’s social advertisers can leverage multiple options for ad buys from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google, YouTube… and on and on. Further, they can use robust tools to manage their ads once they’ve begun to run them, analyzing near real-time results to pivot quickly, if needed.

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

And the time and money spend doesn’t stop on pure marketing in today’s social media era.

Social media has steadily increased its reach into the customer-service and sales-engagement arenas as well. Current-day users expect to send messages to companies through their social media of choice and receive quick—if not nearly instantaneous—responses. In fact, some companies see one of the biggest roles social media plays as a customer service role. Think airlines, for example.

The days of customers and potential customers going straight to the web to find information on a company and to chat with the company’s representatives through their websites’ chat features and via calling the company’s main number continue to fade.

This shift in customer interaction means that companies need to shift accordingly. Customer service teams need to move into social platforms—and companies need to assess the types of tools they can implement to help smooth this transition and the resulting customer engagements.

The widgets and bots that many companies implemented on their websites to answer basic product, service, and company questions via pop-up chat boxes have now arrived on social media, and they have gained impressive traction. Yet, as with advertising on social media, building them takes resources: Time and money.

In the new social media era, everything does.

INACTION WILL HURT YOU

You don’t want to be the company that spent a lot of time—and, therefore, money—developing great social media posts and themes that share awesome content and fun ideas—that no one ever saw.

After all, doing something like that would be foolish and a waste, wouldn’t it?

Well then. To make social media effective in today’s world, you need to create great content and you need to pay to play—or you may as well not even bother. (And in today’s world, what company can afford to ignore social media?)

Feel like you need to shift your plans for social—and that a new direction requires new expertise? You’re not wrong. Let us know how we can help.

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