Social Media Marketing: The Past, Present, & Future
In today’s digital media landscape, the only thing that remains constant is change itself. There are always new tools and apps coming out. Within this flux of change, there is an ever-increasing amount of content circulating in the digital space.
I just watched the recording of Mark Schaefer’s talk at this year’s Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego. In Mark’s talk, he shared how everyone, including brands, organizations, and individuals, were struggling with a state of content shock. There is way too much content.
Ironically, on the other hand, we are encouraging everyone to become content creators to share their stories and to document their journeys.
How could we ever figure out the digital marketing world?
Well, I had the honor to interview a social media marketing expert, Keith A. Quesenberry, to discuss the latest changes and strategies in digital marketing. Click on the link below to watch the replay of our interview and read my highlights below.
Before we dive into the content of my interview, let’s first get to know Keith.
Who is Keith A. Quesenberry?
Keith is a Marketing Professor at Messiah College. Prior to teaching, Keith spent 17 years in marketing and advertising at at advertising agencies such as BBDO and Arnold Worldwide. Keith is also a contributing writer to Social Media Examiner and Harvard Business Review. His expert opinions have been featured in many mainstream media and publications such as MSNBC, The New York Times, Forbes, and Entrepreneur.
Keith is also the author of a popular social media book, Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution.
What are the big changes in social media marketing?
Keith just released the second edition of his Social Media Strategy book. The first edition was published in 2015. Between the two editions, a lot changed in the digital marketing space.
Keith shared four significant changes that he has observed based on his research and practical experience.
1️⃣ The growing popularity of live video. Within a few years, there has been a spring of live streaming platforms such as MeerKat, Blab, Periscope, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and YouTube live. Some platforms are gone such as MeerKat and Blab, some still remain like Periscope, and some are dominating such as Facebook live.
In fact, Keith’s observation resonates with the findings in Social Media Examiner’s latest industry report, in which they highlighted an increased interest among social media marketers in using videos and live streaming.
2️⃣The emergence of Influencer Marketing and micro-influencers. Keith commented that even the way we approach influencer marketing has changed compared to a few years ago. Back then, people relied at vanity metrics such as number of followers. Now, it is important for brands to identify micro-influencers. Those are people who have smaller audiences, but they are more effective for brands to reach out to targeted demographics and to accomplish your business goals. Spending thousands of dollars paying celebrities to share your content is no longer an effective strategy. Instead, identifying micro influencers who are more relevant to your messaging and audience.
3️⃣Paid social. I am sure you have all heard the phrase, “pay to play.” Especially on platforms that are saturated with content such as Facebook, marketers can no longer ignore paid social. Every social media strategy has to have a paid component. And this paid feature has become official on almost all the social media channels.
4️⃣Emerging and diminishing paid social platforms. The last change that Keith discussed was that some platforms, such as Google +, have faded away, whereas others have come into prominence such as Snapchat, Messenger apps, and various rating review sites such as Trip Adviser and Amazon.
In the midst of all these changes, Keith shared that one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for an overarching brand strategy. With social media sites emerge and disappear so frequently, brands and marketers cannot succeed by chasing after the latest platforms, features, or tactics. Instead,
One has to understand the larger brand. The message has to distinguish one from one’s competitors. Think about who your real target audience is and where they are most active at? They may not be on the big three social platforms.
What are some social media mistakes that brands and companies make?
Keith shared three major social media mistakes that companies still make.
❌ Many companies tend to start with social media objectives without thinking about their actual business objectives. For example, a company might be thinking about creating content to increase followers and shares on Instagram. Within this context, social media has become an end to itself.Marketers may not even know if their social media efforts are translating into business goals or making any contributions to the bottom line.
Instead, always start with the business objectives, such as increasing sales, changing perceptions, asking for donations, increasing volunteers, etc. From business objectives, you go to identify target audience, ➡️ then figure out where your target audience congregates, ➡️ then select the right social media channels to reach these people, ➡️ finally, create the content. Don’t jump into the last step without fully understanding the first three steps.
❌ Most companies tend to focus only on the popular social networks, without examining whether or not these channels are the best for their unique messages and strategies. For example, Keith shared that mediums like corporate blogs and Pinterest can be very effective at generating sales. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of Fortune 500 companies are leveraging them.
❌ The last social media mistake is that brands are not engaging. Most brands tend to use social media as a broadcasting channel by producing and publishing content, without making any genuine effort to engage their consumers after the content is released. As Keith said,
The real return on investment comes in the engagement. It is a two-way channel.
Amen! There were brands that I stopped interacting with and supporting them because then never engaged back.
You can read Keith’s article on Harvard Business Review below to dive deeper into the common social media mistakes discussed here.
Educators Need to Be Practitioners
To me, Keith is the ideal marketing professor. He has extensive experience in the professional field. He does not only academic research but practical ones as well that students and professionals can use and apply. Keith walks the talk and is up to date with the latest industry trends and changes.
I think this is how classes should be taught, not just by educators who have terminal degrees in respective academic fields but by educators who are immersed in the professional fields as well.
As a college professor myself, I wholeheartedly believe that educators need to be practitioners. It is one of the important ways to shrink the gap between classroom teaching and real-life applications. Reflecting on my own self-reinvention journey to expand my professional services (listen to the podcast interview below), I have come to see how every single professional endeavor that I do outside the classroom has made me a better professor inside the classroom.