As Social Media Usage Wanes, Marketers Must Reevaluate Their Media Channels

February 26, 2019

By Matthew Schwartz

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A world without social media? Don't panic. Social media channels remain the top online marketing vehicles for many B2C and B2B brands, commanding growing amounts of mind share and budget.

However, the algorithmic baggage associated with social media sites — Facebook, in particular, as it grapples with a series of crises — is starting to take a toll: More than half of regular users (55 percent) say they use social media a lot less compared to a year ago, according to a recent study released by Regina Corso Consulting.

In a potentially bigger omen for marketers betting on social media, 64 percent of millennials, who are fast entering the management ranks, say they are using social platforms a lot less this year, per the study.

The survey, conducted in January, is based on the responses from 2,141 U.S. adults; 1,837 of whom say they are regular social media users (i.e., they use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat at least one to two times a week).

Yet despite the overall erosion in social media usage, the appetite among consumers for Facebook et al. remains pretty robust.

Three-quarters of regular users (76 percent) say social media is a great way to connect with brands and/or companies, the study said. What's more, 51 percent of regular social media users say their social network in real life has expanded due to their social media network.

Regular social media users were asked how strongly they agreed with the following statements. Pictured are the percentages of those who strongly or somewhat agreed with the statements.

Note: Results may not equal 100 percent because of rounding. source: Regina Corso Consulting "Majority of Regular Social Media Users Are Using It Less Compared to a Year Ago"

Nonetheless, the survey is a wake-up call for CMOs not to put all their marketing eggs in the social media basket. People are inherently fickle and online allegiance is fleeting. Remember MySpace? Friendster, anyone?

With that in mind, here are a few ways to leverage your social media marketing strategy more effectively and to think about alternative marketing channels to reach your customers and prospects.

 

Be selective.

The notion that brands should be much more selective in the number of social media channels they deploy continues to gain traction throughout marketing precincts.

Being all things to all people waters down your message. As the C-suite demands more accountability from marketing departments, brand managers need to take much more of a surgical approach to social media. Before you start to ramp up investment, get a solid read on which social channels your audiences prefer.

Perhaps more important, gauge how much time users typically spend on each of your social channels and the type of content they like to see. For example, if your audience digs visual communications make sure your YouTube channel is constantly refreshed; if you're a hardcore B2B firm strictly focused on lead-gen campaigns, LinkedIn is your primary venue.

You have to gauge where your audiences reside mostly and let that inform your overall social media strategy.

 

Sharpen your social media metrics.

Getting a better sense of your social media audience is a function of having clean, accurate, and timely data. The more sophisticated the data, the better the execution when it comes to reaching the right eyeballs at the right time, developing content that truly adds value to the customer experience, and suffering the least amount of waste.

Be careful not to let the algorithm do all the work, though. In order to get the most out of your data it's crucial that you include the human touch. The data provides the raw numbers. Brand managers supply the nuances about their customers' behavior. It's a blended model.

 

Reevaluate traditional media channels. Seriously.

For a while, it seemed as though traditional media outlets were going the way of the dodo. But that was then and this is now. While legacy publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post have seen their digital subscriptions increase since the 2016 election, new media venues have hit the wall. BuzzFeed, a digital media darling not long ago, recently cut 5 percent of its workforce (or roughly 200 people). Verizon let go of 7 percent of the 11,385 employees in its media division, which includes Yahoo and AOL. With apologies to Pete Townshend, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Turns out that legacy media brands are best positioned for the transition to a post-digital age. That begs the question whether marketers should reevaluate some of the other traditional media channels, such as direct mail and affiliate marketing. And while they predate the web, events and conferences have taken on a new urgency.

As the internet encroaches deeper into our lives, people are hungry to press the flesh and connect with their peers in-person. All that budget allocated to chasing customers and prospects on social media may be better spent bringing like-minded people together for highly focused programming regarding the latest media/marketing trends in your business sector. What's more social than that?

 


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