Many brands, both large companies and SMBs, struggle with the question of whether or not to invest in social media. Does it make sense in 2021 to hire an agency, or have an in-house designer and copy making 7 or more posts a week?
Most brands invest, more because it has become conventionalized that social media is important, than because they have done a real analysis of the data that is available. If you don't have the data, our social media Business Intelligence can help.
In this day and age, there are basic questions that any digital marketer should be asking regularly:
- What percentage of your website visitors come from social media?
- What is your investment in social media vs other traffic generating channels?
- What is the % of sales coming from social media?
A simple analysis of the results to these three questions would most likely lead to a different investment mix, both in media and in internal resource time.
Marketers today have to be armed with data and have the courage to make decisions based on data. After all, this is one of the great advantages that Digital has brought us, the possibility of measuring everything.
To understand why some of these vices exist, we have to remember the early days of social media and its relationship with brands, not least because we still find many of the marketing managers in this paradigm.
The beginning of social media was marked by the era of brand fans. Any post a brand made would appear on the timeline of most of its followers, so it made sense to invest in growing that fan base.
Even today, when I ask many marketing directors, what their digital marketing goal is the answer is almost always: grow the number of brand followers.
Reality has changed and changes very quickly, what is true today, may not be true in 2023. In our opinion there are 3 essential reasons to immediately review your digital strategy:
1st reason: Brutal Drop in the Reach of Organic Posts on Social Media
After 2015 and the changes made to the Facebook algorithm, reality has never been the same again. According to Hootsuite Blog today the estimated reach of an organic post varies between 2 and 5%. This means that in 1000 followers, the post will appear, at best, in the timeline of 50 of the followers.
And even within this assumption, it is not sure that it will capture the attention of those who see it. Social media users are usually in their endless scrolls looking for content that really interests them.
To flesh out these numbers, let's take as an example the brand Continenteone of the brands that best works the digital ecosystem in Portugal, from e-commerce, apps, cards and segmented newsletters, to content development.
The Continente Brand has over 2 million followers on Facebook (2,058,596). However, the post that generated more engagement over the past 30 days (15 Jan-15 Feb), only had an engagement of 9179 (reactions, shares, comments), i.e., 0.45% ? that's less than half a percent!
On instagram, the reality is even more dramatic. According to a 2019 study by Trust Insights, the engagement of brand followers on instagram varies between 1.5% and 0.9%, with a downward trend. This data shows a reality that, if we think about it, is perfectly natural. We wouldn't expect a TV channel or newspaper to advertise our brands without paying, why should social networks do it?
2nd Reason: Ever-Growing Social Media Costs
If a few years ago one post a week was enough and there was only one relevant social network, then there was a time when three posts solved our goals. Today it seems that the norm is more than 7 posts per week, in as many networks as possible.
The logic seems to have been this: in the quest to combat the lack of engagement, brands opted for a strategy of maximizing their number of posts. More seems to be better and so, today, we have posts about everything and about nothing, every micro-efficiency is subject of a post.
Taking Continent again as an example, we see that in the last 30 days, this brand made 49 posts on Facebook and around 35 posts on instagram. This is more than 80 posts per month. Can you imagine the amount of resources behind this dynamic?
Put together a strategy, come up with ideas, develop creativity, write copys, approve, refine, approve again, upload, respond to comments? wow.
And what to do when a new relevant network appears? Tik Tok, Twitter, Pintrest, Clubhouse? It's a job that grows exponentially and is a digital marketer's worst nightmare.
No kidding, it is a giant job that, between internal and external resources, will cost several hundred thousand euros a year, but with what return?
Reason 3: Are Social Networks Effective at Generating Traffic?
The clear answer is: no! Data from Semrush shows us that in December 2020, traffic on Continente's website from social networks does not reach 1%.
Does social media, only represent an 1% of Continent's digital investment? Hardly.
This is true for the Continente brand as it is for most brands. Of the hundreds and hundreds of brands we've analyzed, the data is always more or less the same.
On Gigantic we always advise our clients to question their options and to calculate the effectiveness of every euro spent, on each of the traffic-generating items.
The allocation of investment and internal resources of a brand should take into account several factors, namely:
- the real weight of each source, both in traffic generation and sales growth,
- the cost of traffic generated by each source
- the conversion cost of each source
- the growth potential of each source
It's clear that brands have to have social media and that social media can, and should, be a point of engagement for their community: the brand's hardcore fans.
It is clear that social media is also a contact point for brands, which can be used by customers who want to get information, make complaints, etc.
But considering social networks, in their organic aspect, as important sources of traffic generation, seems totally unrealistic to us in 2021.