The only hope: we need to return to its roots.
The very best thing that at any time happened to social media advertising was the hacking of the 2016 US election of Donal Trump by the Russians. Why? Because it laid bare what many in social media marketing has known for a long, long time: that social networking platforms really are a joke, their valuations are influenced by imaginary people, and their integrity lies somewhere between Lucifer and that guy that eats people’s faces in the flicks.
For marketing specialists like as myself, recommending existing social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has been increasingly difficult, because -quite frankly many of us do not trust the metrics.
And why might we? Facebook does not.
This’s from Facebook’s 2017 SEC submitting (emphasis mine):
The numbers for our key metrics, which include the daily active users of ours (DAUs), month established users (MAUs), as well as regular earnings per consumer (ARPU), are calculated using internal company data based on the activity of consumer accounts. While these numbers are based upon what we believe to be realistic estimates of the user base of ours for the applicable period of measurement, one can find inherent difficulties in calculating usage of our products across large online and mobile populations around the earth.
The largest data management business worldwide says it doesn’t actually know if its numbers are appropriate. Estimates? What advertising professional wants estimated results after the fact?
It gets worse. Emphasis mine:
In the fourth quarter of 2017, we calculate that duplicate accounts could have represented about ten % of our global MAUs. We feel the percentage of identical accounts is meaningfully higher in developing markets including India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as compared to more developed markets. In the fourth quarter of 2017, we calculate that false accounts might have represented about 3-4 % of our worldwide MAUs.
Let that sink in. Facebook is confessing that “approximately” ten % of its monthly active users are fake. Oddly enough, they do not mention what percentage of the daily active users of theirs are fake.
And that is the issue with social media. You don’t know what is real and what is fake anymore.
Social media hasn’t been real for some time.
As marketers and advertisers, we pride ourselves on accuracy. In the olden times of advertising and marketing, we obsessed over rating numbers of tv shows, readership for print promotions, and delivery success rates for direct mail.
In most instances, the platforms of the morning have been heavily audited. You knew, with reasonable certainty, was the audiences were for any specific medium or channel because there was often the effort of review anywhere for all the numbers.
Traditional media such as radio, TV, and print had been around long enough that there were thousands of case scientific studies one might examine the success or perhaps issues of individual campaigns. Because these mediums were a part of the public record, it was simple to work backward to see what mix of press as well as budget worked out and what didn’t.
As an industry, we could quickly establish benchmarks for success – not just based on our personal experiences but in the collective experiences of very clear methods laid bare for everybody to dissect.
Effectively, that all went out the window with social media.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram’s numbers were generally a joke.
In days of yore, company valuation was based on human capital, assets, and revenues, and performance.
That all changed when someone created the notion of “daily active users.”
The race to gain users became the driving force for social media platforms in a way that we have never seen before. Today, the obsession with user growth opened the door to advertising and marketing fraud on a scale that just was not possible previously.
Let us get something clear: almost any platform that allows for folks to generate thousands of fake profiles so others are able to buy likes, retweets, followers, or perhaps shares is toxic to advertisers and brands alike.
Now, I know that the word “allows” is doing a lot of effort in that sentence, so allow me to expand a bit what I mean.
I do not think I will purchase lots of reasons when I say that regardless of what I think of them- the best social media platforms on the earth are usually several of probably the most advanced technological enterprises on the earth. They’ve -arguably- several of the best AI in existence, as their whole business models revolve around having the ability to crunch figures, facts, and unknown bits of information millions of times a minute.
They are additionally significant companies, with an army of lawyers and IP bulldogs waiting around to protect their brand against any aggressive outside forces.
And so explain to me, how’s it, that despite all we’ve observed in the news people can easily still buy Facebook likes, as well as Twitter followers, or Instagram fans?
The reason: it was generally a scam. And we got conned as well as everyone else.
If your company is valued on the number of yours of users as well as the activity of those drivers on your platform, what do you care if they’re fake or perhaps not? If seguidores did, you would hire an armada of auditors to ensure the integrity of the userbase of yours. I do not believe they actually did and won’t ever do this.
Social platforms deploy their honey trap.
Initially, social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter lured companies and brands onto their platforms with promises of free marketing and advertising. To be able to easily develop a fanbase and follower base, without the necessity of hiring advertising shmucks like me. Why waste time on employing a professional if you can do it all yourself for nothing?
At first, I was a supporter of this. I thought that marketing and advertising was frequently something that just larger companies can easily afford, and that business marketing and advertising was being left behind. Social media marketing and advertising allowed for also a mom and pop shop to compete online.
A lot of businesses spent thousands and hours countless of dollars in human resources to plant their people online.
Having lured them into their honey trap, social media companies then held fans hostages and followers. You’d to pay to have a chance to access the userbase that you developed up and also cultivated.
Suddenly the numbers didn’t make any sense. You had to pay to promote or boost posts when in the past it was free. The actual result was disastrous for many businesses. Though with a lot of their customers on these platforms, little choice was had by them but to continue to try and get whatever value they could for them, the ROI’s did not add up.
Likewise, the shift to such offers opened up the Pandora’s package to further abuses. The drive for revenue seemingly caused social platforms to continue to look the other way on phony profiles as well as social media bots because they drove ad product sales. Private statistics was harvested and manipulated in ways that users could not fathom and didn’t agree to.
Mainly, it did anything to marketing and advertising that I’m uncertain we can recover. For a lot of digital marketing firms and advertising agencies, it forced us to down the Kool aid with everyone else. People that are going to have known better doubled down on media marketing that is social for the clients of ours when we knew -for most of them it was unnecessary.
Marketing and marketing agencies became accomplices after the fact.
Like I said earlier, online marketing agencies and consultants are supposed to obsess with reliability. We want the clients of ours to have the right ROI available.
However, like professionals in any business vertical, we’re self-serving.
One of my favorite examples of exactly how individuals who’d know better will say anything for just a dollar is real estate agents.
Have you EVER heard a real estate agent let you know it’s a wrong time to invest in a house? In almost all of my days, I’ve never ever read an article by a real estate agent saying that individuals should wait on a purchase. House price tags going up? An excellent time to buy; you’ll make your cash back immediately! House costs going down? It is a buyers market! Lock in the savings of yours now!
Marketing and advertising professionals did something very similar with social media marketing.
We watched the platforms’ rise in popularity and did not wish to get seen in a lurch. The buzz was building behind them, as well as consumers have been often demanding us to assist them. So even though Facebook and Twitter were mostly unproven with very little to no real case studies to speak of- many firms told their customers to throw money into the black hole of interpersonal.
What was the result? The majority of social media campaigns are disasters. I only know of a fraction of companies that continue with any seriousness on social networking when compared with the rates businesses did with traditional advertising or even SEO and non-social digital ads.
You view it in the ranking. When electronic marketers talk about social media, they go over it concerning “reach,” “exposure,” “presence,” “awareness.” That’s code word for “throw your money away.” Do an internet search of the usefulness of social networking, and you are going to find the results filled with seo and Social media marketers praising the platforms and the strategies.
Real marketers discuss ROI. Impact on product sales, as well as impact on lead generation. You can’t spend the rent on brand recognition. I’m saying this as someone who establishes brands as a living.
And it is not simply me thinking this. One of the largest brands in the world, Proctor & Gamble, gutted their ad finances and walked away from a host of agencies because of digital marketing and advertising fraud.
Social sharing was automated to death:
Based upon Buzzsumo, average social shares per article had declined by 50 % in 2017 in comparison to 2015. Their data also shows how fast most hot topics become saturated with posts, resulting in just a relatively few winners getting the vast majority of the societal shares & hyperlinks.
Another discovered that, that bots automate close to two-thirds -66%- of all HTML links posted on Twitter.
Again, if social networking platforms truly valued their user experience and cared about cultural being social, they will have banned such practices years ago. No more interpersonal automation. If you would like to participate with your fans and followers, you’ve to be there for them. You have to be fresh, online, prepared to connect.
But, bots are great for business. They enhance their day effective user accounts; they earn their platforms appear much more popular than they are. Content is posted by bots, bots as content, bots share content, people are followed by bots, bots message people -it’s endless.
Bots account for an ungodly 52 % of internet traffic in 2017. That amount is only set to rise more as social networking is still an arms race. Caught in the midst of most of this are companies who believe that their digital advertising metrics have some meaning.
Your Influencer isn’t that influential.
I am a firm believer in influencer advertising as I believe it’s an all natural extension of relationship marketing. people are going to buy from folks they trust and also will accept the suggestions of individuals they love.
Nevertheless, with the development of online influencers, a turn for the surreal has been taken by things.
For one, fans which are a lot of & followers of social media influencers are as fake as anything. Social media bots follow celebrities as a means to spam their pages and/or a means to scrape a listing of men and women to spam later with information.
Secondly, as advertisers and marketers, we are meant to care about accuracy. But the potential to confirm the fan base of an influencer is virtually impossible within the os’s. You have going to third party apps to try and get any kind of real understanding of the validity. Additionally, even then, you’re at the mercy of the third party to provide you with precise data. Should Instagram choose to turn off the API to these software programs, you are going to have no idea how common your influencer is.
The future of social media: transparent, direct, and live.
The way to address the social media problem we are facing today is simple: social media was good when it was personal and social. A return to the fundamentals is needed.
No more automation
When you do not have the time period or the power or the interest really to ENGAGE with mankind, then social media is not really for you. What’s more often, you’re not for social networking.
Automation should stop. Period. Let us return to a more natural engagement between brands, companies, customers and leads. Human interaction is the most powerful driver of revenue and sales, as well as the ideal metric for the real value of a platform.
See and be seen
The use of live video to establish authenticity in an era where everything is anonymous is going to be a dominant driver of change within the next five years. Rather than hiding behind memes, and curated content, organizations have to leverage influencers and their employees to champion their brands. Reconnect with the basics: one-to-one or one-to-many communications.
The revolt of investors
I genuinely believe that the majority of social media companies have fudged the publications when it comes to their userbase, popularity, and activity. It’s period for investors to demand third-party audits of the details before the whole building of card falls on people’s heads.
Look, I’m a marketing consultant. I enjoy using social media. It allows me to keep in contact with the individuals and the brands I care about the majority of in the planet. But at the center of it is a flaw -a glitch in the Matrix that has be sorted out.
There’s a bubble nowadays, and social networking firms that allow for fake profiles and anonymous users are at the center of it.
The only hope: we need to return to its roots.