Social Media Marketers Have Got to Chill

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Marketers freaking out over upheaval in the social media space have to chill and focus on their core objectives.

Facebook’s well-publicized data and privacy issues are stoking concerns. API changes have Instagram marketers worried about their influencer programs. Twitter is challenged by brand safety and bots. Highly effective engagement channels, such as Tumblr and Pinterest, have work to do to sell marketers on their value. These issues make social seem chaotic and challenging, but we see brands win by working with partners to get deep insights to navigate these stormy seas.

It’s fairly well established that traditional consumer engagement strategies are toast.

It’s fairly well established that traditional consumer engagement strategies are toast. Ad-blocking, brand safety and banner blindness have sent marketers to the less-exploited fishing grounds of social media, influencer marketing and earned media. Brand category after brand category are being disrupted by challengers shaking up established marketing models. Smaller upstart brands are much more likely to go whole hog into earned media marketing with its better ROI for reaching millennial customers.

This all means that despite the current upheaval in social media marketing, it will remain the path forward for brands. There is tremendous opportunity to work with partners for a network-agnostic view of earned media and the value being created. We counsel marketers to focus on the content, not just on individual social media posts.

Reliance on one network or channel is a generally a pretty huge mistake. At any moment, with one tweak of an algorithm, any network can pull the rug out from under your best laid marketing plans. The successful brands we work with take a cross-channel, lifetime-value approach to content. They aim to get it shared and re-shared, posted and cross posted, from network to network, around the web and back again. Some of our clients see content go viral on Instagram, then go quiet for a while, only to reemerge months later on Pinterest, where it generates new earned media value.

While it’s easy to think social media uncertainty is just the way it’s always going to be, smart marketers have always been forward looking, adaptable and nimble. Yes, the big social media networks are likely here to stay and will always inspire a degree of FUD among brands. However, getting deep into the data and analytics of their earned media helps navigate stormy seas.

And, who’s to say the social media cards we’ve been dealt are the only ones we’ll have to play? As Ben Smith noted recently in Buzzfeed, the current garden of doubt may grow new social media sprouts: “For the first time in years, there are viable new social networks being born on the margins, and the great questions have to do with what comes next. There are big forces pushing us toward fragmentation. These are not attempts to take over but instead to carve out an independent territory.”

Wherever those forces take us and what social media channels spring up, the marketers that win will have deep insights about their earned media and the value it creates.

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