Eight years ago I began my career as a social media marketer. To give this time frame some context, the year was 2007. Myspace was king, as was Digg, both of which are totally obscure today. Facebook was on the rise, Twitter was virtually unknown and Instagram, Google+, Snapchat, Pinterest and Vine didn’t exist.
It’s also important to note that when I say I’m a “social media marketer,” it’s important to emphasize that I began my career working with a credible and reputable agency, which is a far-cry from the fly-by-night so-called ‘social media guru’s’ who run around the Internet these days prophesying about things they have no experience in.
In the 8 years since I’ve started my career, I’ve seen social media marketing change quite a bit, but I have yet to see any of the big changes that will take place this year.
In 2015, social media marketing will change in a major way.
Here’s how you will need to adjust your strategy to stay ahead of the game:
1. Forget the Following:
For the past eight years, businesses have been enticed by social media sites to build their audiences on their platforms. Facebook was the first to roll out an ad platform that allowed page admins to advertise their pages to attract more fans. On a more organic level, many businesses, blogs and personal brands have built their followings through years of shareable content and consistent posting. This all sounds like a perfect recipe for success right? In the end you reap the reward of thousands or millions of fans you can leverage to share and spread your content for free. Here’s the problem… This no longer works and hasn’t worked for years, yet marketers, agencies and businesses are continuing down this terrible bridge to nowhere. It no longer works because social media feeds are crowded more now than ever before. More users have joined as well as businesses, so your ability to compete for attention is now at an all-time low. That being said, don’t waste your time building your following anymore. While it’s still important, keep these efforts in the back of your mind because you’re not going to get the organic reach you once did years ago.
2. Pay to Play:
Once upon a time, I fell in love with the fantasy that social media was free like everybody else, until I realized that it wasn’t. In 2015, you will need to embrace advertising. I’ve talked a lot about Facebook, and I’m about to do it again. Facebook and YouTube have fantastic ad platforms. Give them a try. The thing about advertising that I want to very heavily emphasize is that success in social media in 2015 and beyond will weigh heavily on brand’s being able to develop shareable content and disseminate it quickly. Brands will also need to control the velocity at which content spreads and stays alive in the social space. This is why advertising is so critical. It gives brands the ability to toss out several pieces of content, advertise them, see which ones perform the best and then fire on all cylinders with a larger ad spend to keep things moving. As you consistently pump out content in 2015 that increases in engagement, your following will grow organically and because your content is being engaged with more heavily, it will have a higher organic reach.