It’s mid-2018. The social media brand boom was roughly 8 or 9 years ago (depending on who you ask). Social networks themselves have come and gone. We brand marketers survived the “Overwhelming Era” from about 2011 – 2014 when it seemed like a new network, platform or community-driven website was popping up every month as the new craze, and as a marketer during this time, the need to explore all these options was very real. Hence the overwhelming part. We were all seeking “engagement.” So here we sit, several years later. These platforms have grown up and evolved. But why haven’t what marketers call success in this space followed suit?
When the Wu-Tang Clan released their new album in 2015, ‘Once Upon A Time in Shaolin,’ it was met with an immense amount of hype. The year prior, a double CD of the album was stored in a vault at a hotel in Morocco, you know, as one does with a new album. But this wasn’t any album drop – they only released one copy. ONE. And that single double-disc sat inside of a vault in northern Africa until a rich kid bought it at an auction for $2 Million. It was unattainable to the nth degree. It was as much an innovative music launch strategy as it was a wild PR and marketing stunt. And it got people to notice, with social chatter skyrocketing for several months after the album’s initial announcement.
I’ve been doing marketing in some fashion, at different levels and in varying fields and industries for over 10 years. I’ve led brand initiatives, social media and content marketing strategies, advertising and media plans, experiential campaigns and activations, influencer programs, and a range of other digital endeavors, to name a few. And I’ve done it on both the client and agency side. From this decade-plus of time and the many experiences I’ve lived through – I’ve found one above-all-others truth in marketing today…
Consumer brands on social media are not a new thing, in fact, the brand “boom” on channels such as Facebook and Twitter was about seven years ago. In those seven-ish years we’ve seen social platforms grow up, go public, and become huge legitimate businesses. Their users have grown up and adapted as well, as have those users’ expectations and behaviors, how they consume content, and where and when they consume it. So it comes as no surprise that brands have had no choice but to keep evolving on social media, too, if they want to reach the right people with their messaging, stories and content, and make those stories matter.
Over the last few months, a lot has changed on the beloved social network known as Instagram. Unfortunately for its 400 million users, most changes have been made without the actual experience of said user in mind, or at least that’s how it feels. Instagram likes to say things that sound nice and fancy – things like they’re enhancing the Instagram app, or making things more relevant for people, or a bunch of other things I typically block out. But what’s really happening is very apparent, and it doesn’t bode well for the future of Instagram.
We’ve all seen them. They’re still everywhere. As consumers, you’re either intrigued by them or they completely annoy you, depending on your own personal goals. I’m talking about social media sweepstakes, giveaways, and sometimes (but not always) contests. And I hate them, well, most of the time.
There are three quite different areas that fall into what we once knew as “social media”: content marketing, social advertising (paid social display) and community engagement.
Let me break these down for you…and hopefully add a little clarity to the mysterious world of “social media” for businesses as it sits in 2015.
Over the last several years, the success metrics that have told us if social media is doing a “good job” for a company or brand have fluctuated more than Chandler Bing’s weight in the last few seasons of “Friends.” A few years ago we were all very proud of ourselves as social media managers and marketing organizations if a Facebook post we put out there got a lot of “likes.” Or if a tweet got a bunch of favorites. Because, that told us that the stuff that we published had people clicking a thumbs-up or a star. And of course, that meant success.
This is a fun article for me to write; I’m making fun of not only myself and what I’ve mainly been doing for the last half-decade, but also of the people that regularly work with social business folk. There are a lot of different titles that involve social media for a job, and none is more vague than “social media manager.” This could mean so many different things: community manager, social strategist, content marketing, social advertising, analytics and insights, creative services, media marketing, channel discovery, campaign development, and many, many more things.