Social Media Graveyard

The Rumors of Social Media Death…

Google+ is dead. Facebook is dead. Twitter is the new Facebook. Instagram is the new Twitter. Sound familiar?

It seems that social media marketers can’t go more than a month or two without pulling out torches and pitchforks to raze another network to the ground. Why is it that any change to a social network results in massive outcries and swarms of marketers moving to ‘the next big thing?’ Are we all just hipsters, desperate to be the first agency to discover the next marketing sensation? Are we cynical and jaded, taking pleasure in the failure of whatever network we like the least? Are we lazy, desperately insisting that G+ isn’t worth the effort so we don’t have to invest time into learning how to use it? I think it’s time we really sat down, looked at the numbers, and proved once and for all that – for these social networks – death is certainly a great exaggeration.  Dead? He gets that a lot.

Google + is Dead (52,100 results on Google)
Let’s get Plus out of the way early, since they’ve recently been making plenty of headlines.

What You’ve Read:
Google + is the Walking Dead. Abandoned by long-time advocate Vid Gundotra, Google + is finally going dark after years of failed attempts to dethrone Facebook. The network never managed to capture a mainstream audience, and has become a barren echo chamber where a small cult of devotees parrot the same tired ideas back and forth, hoping the rest of the world will someday latch on to the ‘quality over quantity’ community strategy.

What the Numbers Say: 
Depending on who you ask, G+ is either the biggest sleeping giant in social history, or it’s a pitiful ghost town desperately clinging to a small but dedicated fanbase. According to a Google report from October 2013, Google + users had increased by 58% over that year. However, Econsultancy countered that statistic with social data showing that, of Google +’s 1.1 Billion users, only 35% actively used the network. There is no doubt that Google’s recent efforts to consolidate their regime have increased the amount of people with a Google + account – after all, you can’t use YouTube, Gmail, or any of Google’s other services without one. But the data proves that people just aren’t sticking around to chat. While Google + probably shouldn’t be the forerunner of your social strategy, we still can’t say ‘no’ to the SEO boost. Besides, the network’s content formatting options and video integration are the perfect way to simplify blogging, if you feel like a full dedicated blog isn’t worth the effort.
Is Facebook Dead
Facebook is Dead (425,000 results on Google)
Like talking crap about the cheerleaders behind their backs at lunch, people can’t wait to poke holes in the world’s most popular social network.

What You’ve Read:
Facebook killed organic reach in a landmark algorithm change in late 2013. Brands marketing on Facebook are now all but required to invest small ad budgets behind every post in order to make an impact. Many major brands are tracking organic reach as low as 1%, meaning those massive audiences you’ve spent years building are almost entirely wasted. The dollar is the only path toward social success – everything we know about quality content has gone out the window.

What the Numbers Say:
Ready for the hard truth about Facebook metrics? Here it is: There are no simple answers, and no global rules. What’s true for one page (or most pages) isn’t true for all of them. And while it has been widely reported that organic reach took a nosedive at the end of 2013, that simply isn’t true across the network as a whole. In fact, organic reach can fluctuate from 2% to 47%, depending on dozens of invisible factors. We still don’t know everything that Facebook uses to calculate what shows up in users’ newsfeeds – we can only speculate based on the data we have. Every page – and every audience – is unique. Facebook’s public claim is that the drop in reach has more to do with increased competition than it does with a larger behind-the-scenes strategy.

Whether or not you believe them doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, paid impressions and promoted content will always perform better than organic posts, and that’s just the way it is. While this may be a bummer for small ‘Mom & Pop’ outfits, major brands shouldn’t notice much of a problem, since promoted content should already be part of your strategy.

Is Twitter Dead?

Twitter is Dead (177,000 results on Google)
If attacking Facebook is going after the popular kid, attacking Twitter is like throwing erasers at the class nerd. Everyone knows he’s got numbers on his side, but does anyone take him seriously?

What You’ve Read:
Twitter’s growth has been slowing down for years. Millions of users tune in to the network for major events or disasters, and then uninstall and tune out as soon as things calm down. It’s an outdated platform, designed for audiences that can’t or won’t engage on more sophisticated channels. It’s a text-only channel playing catch-up in a world of rich media and interactive video. They spent too long focusing on offshoot channels like Vine and Medium instead of improving the platform they already had.

What the Numbers Say:
In 2012, the biggest shock in the world of Twitter was its popularity among farmers. Getting fast, accurate information to each other was key for successful agricultural businesses, and Twitter proved a perfect host for that communication. Today, very little has changed. Twitter’s largest body of users in 2014 are mobile users. Most recent numbers suggest that over 75% of Twitter users access the network exclusively on smartphones or tablets. There are dozens of official and unofficial Twitter apps for every mobile device you can name, and you can even update your feed via SMS messaging. This makes Twitter the most accessible social network in the world. I bolded that so you can’t skip over it. When consumers are driving, shopping, watching movie previews, browsing thrift shops, shouldering through mosh pits, and base jumping off skyscrapers, Twitter is the channel they are most likely going to be reading and writing to. That makes Twitter the perfect place to focus your flash sale promotions. You can grab the attention of people walking through the mall your shop is in by riding along with a local hashtag. Throw a few dollar bills behind a localized promoted tweet and bring in some traffic from the county fair down the road.

And as far as Twitter being a slow-to-change network, that isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. Those farmers we were talking about earlier? They’re still there, and in huge numbers. Not to mention, the old tactics still work. Responding to consumer questions, sending direct messages to users looking for a product you sell, even celebrity endorsements via retweet – all of these are still viable strategies. It may not have the ROI of Facebook, but there’s something to be said for not needing a new social strategy every 4 months.

So, there you have it. You can’t always make a judgment call based on a sudden dip in a data sheet. We social marketers are data-driven people, and that sometimes means creating patterns where there isn’t really anything to see. Social networks are constantly changing, and the users and audiences you can reach with them are always in flux. Yesterday’s ‘Senior Study’ Group is today’s ’10 Year Reunion’ Group. As long as you are willing to do the legwork, there’s something of value to be found in any social network, no matter how many feet they have in the grave.

One thought on “The Rumors of Social Media Death…

  1. Pingback: How to use YouTube to market your brand | Make Me Social

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