Is Social Media Losing its Usefulness to Business or has It Just Evolved

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By Hector Cisneros

Organic Social Media effectiveness for producing leads seems to have peaked just before the last presidential election. During the run-up to that election, we saw skewed search results, increases in filtered newsfeed posts and many changes to the timeline algorithm. Then after the election, we discovered the massive sale of private account profile data, the sales of advertising to Russian groups looking to influence the election and a what seems to be a runaway Frankenstein algorithm that affects ad placement and the news timelines. If you add to this all the filtering that Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn have added to their user controls, you can begin to see why business social posts are not showing up anymore. In this episode, of Working the Web to Win, we will delve into these and other changes that have taken place and explore what effect this is having on a business’s ability to use social media as a means for marketing products and services.  So, whether you're using social media or not, this is a discussion you don’t want to miss because the long-term implications will have lasting effects right now and far into the future. So, put aside your posting schedule and get ready to decipher these changes as we explore the continuous evolution of social media for business.



In April of 2018, I penned an article called “Why Do Social Media Giants Change Without Notice?” which is an ongoing concern of mine since I am the social media director for my company. This concern becomes more acute when website traffic that is normally produced by social media begins to fluctuate when the giants of social media start monkeying with the newsfeeds and filtering algorithms. This is far from the first time I have addressed this subject. For example, in my article called “The Ever-Changing Faces of Facebook” I address how changes to the Newsfeed and user interface was raising the ire of its subscriber base.  In my 2018 articles called, “Is Facebook Losing Face with Business?” and my 2016 article called, “Can Internet Giants Google & Facebook, Steal the Election?” I discussed how the social media shenanigans were affecting the confidence subscribers had in social media and search in general. Again, rapid change on the internet and in social media, in particular, is constant. This makes being a successful social media director one of the hardest jobs in Internet marketing. It requires the social media director to constantly monitor the widespread, frequent changes and then figure out new strategies that will work with the changes so that their efforts will effectively produce results they need without busting their budget. Here is a list of some of the other articles that address these constant changes in the social media channels.
So, what has recently changed? – In my April article called, “Why Do Social Media Giants Change Without Notice?” I talked about how Facebook has altered its newsfeed algorithm to the point that is excluding almost 98% of all business social posts. Facebook has stated that the newsfeed will primarily be used to connect people and that it will give preference to posts that encourage people to engage in conversations. This means that news, video, shows, and other business-related posts are now mostly relegated to ghost town status unless you pony up funds for Facebook’s boosted posts or pay per click advertising. The exception to this is if a person shares your post. The problem is that they still have to see your post and unless they are looking for it, they probably won’t see it!

In Twitter - which used to allow you to distribute the same post to multiple accounts, altered its policy forcing businesses to now make multiple individual posts. Plus, these posts must be substantially different because posting the exact same content to multiple accounts would be considered spamming, which is subject to discipline.
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What about LinkedIn? After being purchased by Microsoft, LinkedIn went through both a massive makeover and a significant reduction in FREE capabilities which meant you have to move to their paid premium service to get many of the features that used to be free.

As for Google+; it has seen many of its original capabilities stripped away where those features became individual products designed to move business users away from a free product to a “pay to play” venue.

The bottom line is the effect has drastically lowered organic traffic produced by social media, which in turn has increased the cost to engage in organic social media marketing. This is forcing businesses to engage in social media pay per click or pay per view advertising where before they were not dependent on the direct paid advertising.
 
From a strategic point of view, this has forced savvy social media directors to re-evaluate ROI from social media activities and to understand that organic social media has moved back to being primarily a branding tool. Increases in traffic, leads and sales will now require more pay per click methods since the timeline is heavily filtered. Social media has always been a great tool for building trust, credibility and SEO ranking, so this is nothing new. What is new is that a business would have a lot of trouble sourcing leads from the organic social post timeline and must now engage in paid PPC ads or move their money to some other paid marketing venue. The bottom line is - Businesses must diversify their advertising.

Changes, Changes Everywhere - These changes came about for many reasons. With the passage of time comes an evolution of any industry. Add to this the shenanigans in political advertising, the growth of social cybercrime, the need to satisfy shareholders, changes in subscriber sentiment and just plain cyber greed, and you can see the pressures initiating these changes.

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What still works? There is a silver lining to all of these changes. What worked in the beginning still works today. In fact, these elements of social marketing never stopped working. Things like being consistent, providing high-quality content, being relevant to your audience, providing timely content, and posting useful Infotainment still draws reads and likes. Things like adding a strong, catchy headline as part of your curation is still helpful. Adding multimedia elements like video and pictures helps an audience click on what they see. Another powerful method that still works is asking influencers to comment on and share your post. These same elements are also useful in the paid avenues as well, so don’t think these are organic elements only.

Other elements that still have a measurable effect include; having a large audience, providing a compelling offer in your post, regularly testing and measuring your content, messages and offers for effectiveness, using hash-tags to increase your reach outside of your regular audience and using the sizzle of live video streams to catch your audience’s attention.

Don’t Forget Customer Support - Another thing that still works well is using social media for customer and prospect support. This is still a low-cost medium for customer support as it has low overhead and it can be used to spot disgruntled customers and prospects and then to manage their expectations and needs without having to build a custom platform to achieve these goals.

Anyone who is engaged in social media marketing today is looking to find new ways to improve their marketing ROI that has been lost to changes in the social marketing algorithms. It’s time to face the reality that prospecting for leads and sales will require more boosted ads and pay per click advertising for any business looking to fish in this massive social media pond. The good news is that these paid marketing venues have built-in analytics making it easier to determine and improve your ROI. Diversification is the watchword for internet marketing today. More than ever, businesses must closely evaluate their efforts, or they can expect to lose more traffic, leads, and money. There is also some more good news in that social media is still a great venue to build a brand, credibility, and trust. This is where it all began. Now we have come almost full circle and I for one like the clear-cut division between paid advertising and the branding capabilities that social media offers.

That's my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.

This article provides clear evidence of how social media has evolved and how these changes have link to the BlogTalkRadio show that goes with this article.
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affected overall organic social media marketing strategies. This article provides more than a dozen links to other related articles about rapid changes occurring in social media so that the reader receives a comprehensive view of this subject matter. It also provides a  

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Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success” and the co-author along with his business partner Carl Weiss of their hit book also called “Working the Web to Win.”

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