Elaine Fogel

I’ll facebook-twitterbet your small business or nonprofit organization spends considerable time on its Facebook page and Twitter account trying to engage new people. After all, aren’t these two social media sites the most effective in reaching prospects, customers, and donors?

Not anymore says a recent Forrester study. “It’s clear that Facebook and Twitter don’t offer the relationships that marketing leaders crave. Yet most brands still use these sites as the centerpiece of their social efforts — thereby wasting significant financial, technological, and human resources on social networks that don’t deliver value,” says Nate Elliott of Forrester.

Now get this… “In the next 18 months… Facebook will become nothing but a repository for display ads,” Elliott predicts. Holy!!

So now what? 

Earlier this year, Social@Ogilvy reported its analysis of more than 100 brand pages. “Organic reach hovered at 6%, a decline of 49% from peak levels in October. For large pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach hit 2% in February. And Facebook sources were unofficially advising community managers to expect it to approach zero in the foreseeable future.”


What does this mean?

Unless you pay for Facebook and Twitter ads, your ability to reach your audiences organically is next to zero. And, realistically, who’s going to engage with your brand on these sites if all you post are ads? Besides, with your limited marketing budget, how much can you realistically invest in social media ads to see a real return?

Another finding that Elliott reports:
“US online adults who want to stay in touch with your brand are almost twice as likely to sign up for your emails as to interact with you on Facebook. Plus your emails get delivered more than 90% of the time, while your Facebook posts get delivered 2% of the time — and no one’s looking over your should telling you what you can and can’t say in your emails. If you have to choose between adding a subscriber to your email list or gaining a new Facebook fan, go for email every time.”

My advice…

  • Re-examine your marketing plan, especially your social media plan. If you have enough budget to experiment with Facebook and Twitter ads, try them out. Make sure you track results so you can make adjustments along the way or scratch campaigns altogether if they don’t work.
  • Make sure there are many places on your website and/or blog that encourage visitors to sign up for your newsletter. Try pop-up sign-ups.
  • Use email marketing judiciously and test frequency to see which works best. You want to keep “unsubscribes” to a minimum.
  • Ensure you offer valuable content in your e-newsletters. Keep promotional content to a minimum.
  • Take a look at direct mail again. If you make it part of an integrated marketing approach and really focus on smaller audiences of good prospects and existing customers, you may find it successful. Experiment with contests, quizzes, give-aways, and other promotions.

Life is about to change in the social media world. With the proliferation of users, Facebook and Twitter are not what they used to be. Forget how many “likes,” “followers” and engaged readers you have and focus on financial metrics, customer service, and customer loyalty.

Will this research change your social media marketing strategy for 2015?

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2 Responses to Facebook and Twitter Are Not Your Best Social Media Marketing Channels Anymore

  • Elaine, I think this article is SPOT ON!! Our research and evaluation have led us to the same conclusions. We still use Facebook and Twitter, but are placing much greater emphasis on promoted posts and ads for the reasons you’ve outlined. Though our organic engagement through Instagram has increased measurably. We’ve also redeveloped our email marketing strategy (funny since just a few years ago, “experts” were claiming email was all but dead) and are investing more on CRM in general, which is challenging yet exciting given the diverse populations we serve. While our direct mail hasn’t increased dramatically, we are evolving its role on a tactical level using more EDDM and a geographically targeted, “neighborhood saturation” approach based on need. However, as you point out, content still rules and no matter what approach you choose, it won’t succeed if the message doesn’t resonate with the target audience. Very insightful article! Thanks.

    • Thanks so much, Brendan! You are always so on top of marketing trends!

      Email is definitely not dead! It’s in a symbiotic relationship with social media. And, as for Instagram, it’s still a relatively newish channel for marketing purposes. It may eventually reach its tipping point, too before marketers move on to the next “big” thing.

      Isn’t marketing a fun and exciting field? :)

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