The final blog post of the year before we sign off until 2017 and I want to leave you with something to think about over the holidays if you are a business owner or a blogger/publication looking to build brand and presence.
This is probably the most important piece of content I have written yet because we are slowly approaching a time where the attention is shifting and there is an opportunity for smaller businesses to take advantage before the big boys come along and ruin it for the rest of us.
I want to talk about what you business needs from social media for 2017 and what you should be doing right now to get ready for it.
What Your Business Needs (right now!)
Don’t let people tell you that your business needs to be here or needs to be there. I see so many articles now, and I am also guilty of this myself in the past too, which talk about why you NEED to be on Twitter and why you NEED to be on Instagram or why you NEED to be on Snapchat. But is that the right question to ask? Businesses are different, their needs are different and so are their expectations and strategies on social media.
There is no strategic blueprint we can apply to a businesses digital marketing and online strategy. Every business is different based on their expectations, their wants and their needs. That is why different businesses get different strategies and execute strategies in different ways.
I would argue that the only place where you should all be if you run a business at the very least is Facebook ads and we will be talking about that in depth later on. Don’t let a “Instagram guru” or a “Twitter marketer” or a “Snapchat whizkid” tell you that you have to be on those platforms.
What you need is to be on the platforms where the attention is and where the value is for your business. Market in the year you live in, not every business will need to be on Twitter, not every business will need to be on Instagram, not every business will need to be on Snapchat.
You need to position yourself in front of a demographic that you want to target where the most attention is. “Oh but Mark, there is value for every business on Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat!” – Not necessarily. If that was truly the case then Twitter wouldn’t be struggling right now. The same approach goes for every other platform.
What you need more than anything else is not a platform, it is the attention. Don’t get romantic about platforms where you have had short term or indeed long term success. A prime example is a client we are working on right now and getting her strategy ready for 2017.
Due to the nature of the business, we are focusing on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for branding, marketing and promotion. No Twitter, no Snapchat (not yet) because the big return for this business is going to be mainly Facebook and Instagram. The products that this business sells can absolutely kill on Facebook and Instagram advertising for a great return because advertising on these platforms is underpriced.
They have crushed it using Facebook ads this year so when we expand that to Instagram ads in the coming year we know the return will get even better. The business had little joy on Twitter in the same period despite a massive push of resources onto the platform. Why? Attention!
So that is number 1, you are going to position yourself in the right place on social media. Number 2, you are going to start running Facebook ads, Instagram ads or both depending on your business.
The amount of people who I have talked to this year who have strong opinions on Facebook ads and many of them have never run a Facebook ad campaign is absolutely insane. At the moment, attention is completely underpriced on these platforms and ads are giving businesses a great return for cheap.
I know, I have hit Facebook ads hard with several people this year and we have seen the return. In around 24-36 months time that is all going to change and Facebook ads are going to get really expensive.
Right now, big brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi are pouring money into TV advertising and print advertising but at some point that is going to change. They are going to start realising that all those millions of dollars are not doing as well as they used to and they are going to start understanding the attention on social platforms and how important that is.
When that happens and they start taking those millions of dollars and start pouring them into Facebook ads then the price of running Facebook ads is going to go through the roof and if you don’t start capitalising on it now, as in this coming year, then you are going to miss the golden era of Facebook advertising and I promise you are going to look back and regret it.
The same will go for Instagram advertising and so you need to take advantage of that and stop whining and crying about how you now have to pat Facebook because your organic reach is not so hot anymore. I said this months ago, the social media free lunch is over.
Pay to play is the current game and you don’t have to pay a whole lot for the return you get so open your eyes, realise how good it is before it becomes too late.
Thirdly, you are going to take control. You aren’t going to outsource everything to someone else right off the bat, you aren’t going to find a young hip family friend who ‘knows social media’ and get them to do it for you.
You are going to take the time to learn about social media so you actually understand the basics and you have take some form of control over things instead of sitting in the dark and trusting someone to ‘run your social media accounts’ without you having any clue of what they are doing.
Some business owners say to me when we talk about their social strategies ‘Oh I don’t get the whole Twitter thing’ or ‘Oh I’m too old for Snapchat, I don’t understand that…’
It’s okay, I get it. You go and you Google it. It is all there, you can watch videos on YouTube teaching you how to use Twitter or how to run Facebook ads. You can find anything you need in two seconds, its all there, people are running around crippled like they don’t know but the answers are within reach of your fingertips.
So you spend around 10 hours reading and watching video and educating yourself, you attend a reasonable number of conferences and events over the year and you network. Once you have gone to Google and read up on the basics you might want to attend a day seminar or course to expand your knowledge – there are some great ones run by fantastic people who can help you deepen your knowledge. That is optional based on how much you feel you need to know which is predicated on if and how much you may plan on assigning or outsourcing to someone else. However you need to get to grips with the basics regardless.
Then you have an understanding so that when you do get someone in to run your social media because you are busy running your business they can’t hose you for crazy amounts of money and you actually have an idea of what should be going on and what your expectations of each platform should be for your business.
Then when someone comes in and runs your social media but doesn’t run something basic like a single Facebook advertising campaign you know what is happening and you can ask them what the fuck is going on instead of being completely oblivious to it. It’s your business so you need to know it the best.
You don’t have to run your social media first hand and for many small business owners or indeed larger businesses, outsourcing is a sensible and viable option. However you need to understand it so you can control it because the bottom line is that it is your business, your livelihood and you need to know what the fuck is going on inside your business.
It All Boils Down To One Thing
Attention. I can’t stress that enough. There are far too many of us running around with ideas of Snapchat or Twitter or Instagram without ever having used the platforms. And by the way, I’m not preaching from some ivory tower here. I have made this very mistake and learned my lessons from it.
I have been guilty of these things, I have held my hands up all year and said “look I was wrong about Snapchat, I was completely wrong” and being able to admit those mistakes is important. Getting Snapchat so wrong has taught me never to make that mistake again and to respect the platforms that people are playing on.
We make too many excuses and not enough effort. “I don’t see the value in Facebook ads” – Well wait until the big brands roll along and start pouring millions of dollars in, then you will regret not seeing the value.
“I’m too old to understand Snapchat” – Rubbish, people who use this excuse more often than not haven’t bothered to even make the effort and don’t want to make the effort so they pass it off as an age thing. The demographic is shifting, the attention is moving. Not just on Snapchat but platforms such as Instagram are also surging at the moment. Visual content, photo and video is finding new heights.
It took me some time but at the start of this year I realised more than anything else that I needed to focus on where the attention is. So I deployed Snapchat and I deployed Instagram and the return has been great.
In reality I wish I had done more, I wish I had crushed Facebook Live hard, I wish I had dedicated more resources to Instagram and Facebook ads for my personal brand, not just for clients. However, these are things I will be correcting in the New Year.
We All Have Opinions
Maybe this has given you something to think about, we all have opinions. Marketers all have different ideas on how to execute. The one thing I want to hammer home is something I have really understood over just this past year, the value of attention and where the eyeballs are looking. I have understood that better as the year has progressed.
Learning that this year has helped me greatly and I have no doubt that it will continue to help me all through my career and life. Marketers all have different opinions on Facebook ads, those who agree with me will see the return and get the best of it. Those who don’t agree I wish all the best but in 36 months I will drag this piece of content back up and say “I told you so motherfuckers!”
How successful you end up in a digital environment is down to how creative you are with the attention in the space you are playing. There is no blueprint which promises you success, you need to do you. Ultimately how you execute is up to you.