Has Social Media Marketing Lost its Luster?

According to a joint report from Econsultancy and Adobe released last week content marketing is the number one priority for marketers in 2013.

The report states that 39 percent of client-side marketers worldwide identified content marketing as their top priority this year. Although content marketing barely edged out social media engagement in terms of priorities, the year-over-year numbers show that social media marketing is on the decline – both from a priority and enthusiasm standpoint, while content marketing is gaining momentum.

Why the shift?

I think there are a number of reasons why we’re seeing this change in mentality about social media and content marketing.

The social media hype is wearing off.

For far too long, social media has been filled with an abundance of hype and fear mongering. Blog posts and videos exclaim that you MUST have a social media presence if you want stay in business.

Not only is that wildly untrue, but it also sets up many businesses for failure by suggesting that’s the case. I’m a big proponent of social media, but it does not make sense for every business.

Now, I think we’re starting to see the sheen of social media wear off. Marketers are either not seeing results from their social media efforts or they’ve realized they’ve placed too much importance on this marketing channel.

Either way, we’re now reaching a point where social media is going to quit being perpetuated as the answer to every marketing problem.

Social media isn’t getting results.

As a result of all that hype, businesses quickly scrambled to develop a social media presence to avoid missing out on this golden opportunity.

But sadly, I think many did so without developing a clear strategy first.

Whether businesses wanted to be seen as hip with the times or they just felt the need to be on social channels “because everyone else is”, these reasons are no longer holding water.

These businesses have invested time in social media, but they’re not able generate results passed numbers of “likes” or followers.

Now, marketers are realizing they either need to pull back from social media or re-think how they spend their time there. Or, perhaps they are realizing that this social media thing is much harder than they thought.

The reality of the work it takes to be successful is finally starting to set in.

Social media needs content to be successful.

To quote Jay Baer, content is the fire and social media is the gasoline.

Social media can indeed amplify your content and your brand. But, you have to have something to share first.

Sadly, many businesses have done this backward. They’ve built out profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest, but have yet to develop interesting, original content to share.

Without content, your social media efforts are thin on value. People follow and connect with you because they want to hear YOUR insights, YOUR ideas and YOUR solutions. If you don’t point them to something you’ve created, you’re either constantly promoting yourself (i.e. “buy our stuff!” or “hire our team!”) or promoting other people’s stuff.

That’s why you’ve got to develop your own content first. And it doesn’t have to be a blog. It can be videos, photography, white papers, ebooks, podcasts, webinars – you name it. You just have to create something original and valuable to your target audience.

Once you do that, you can use social media to help amplify that content and get it into the hands of more people.

Perhaps, at long last, marketers are starting to recognize that content marketing can be incredibly effective, which is why it ranks as the top priority for 2013.

The Bottom Line

Do I think social media is going away?

No.

I think it’s still a viable way to build relationships and connect with customers and prospects.

But, I think (and hope) it will no longer be considered the silver bullet that solves everyone’s marketing challenges. Instead, it should be one of many tools and channels available to help you achieve success with your business.

What do you think? Is social media going away? Do you think it has lived up to the hype?

Image credit: Auntie P

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  • http://www.facebook.com/quick.medical.supplies Timothy Quick

    Well written. Social media for business makes no sense without relevant content.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Agreed! Thanks for stopping by, Timothy!

  • http://twitter.com/DivineGraceMG Divine Grace Media

    “Social media can indeed amplify your content and your brand. But, you have to have something to share first.

    Sadly, many businesses have done this backward. They’ve built out
    profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest, but have yet
    to develop interesting, original content to share.”

    I have said this so many times to prospect clients over the course of the last several years, and most of them move on to the next E Marketer because they tell these prospective clients what they want to hear in order to get their money. They don’t understand the steps, and benefits thanks to all of these “Guru’s” that are leaving out key aspects of the process. Great article, thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      You’re so right. There are plenty of businesses that just want to “check a box” and have social media crossed off of their to-do list. That, or they just want to have the shiny social media icons on their website. But, without any content (or strategy, for that matter), social media isn’t going to do you much good.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and for stopping by today!

  • http://twitter.com/ltcassociates Stephen D. Forman

    GlobalWebIndex just reported that one of the fastest growing sectors not just among all social media– but Twitter especially– was in the 55+ age group. Hurray!

    When you talk about the hype, the sheen of social media, I’m proud to say we planted our seeds 3-1/2 yrs ago on the promise that if we built it, they would come. There have been plenty of naysayers, but we’ve remained unflinching in our commitment: our audience will catch-up, and we will be there waiting.

    Back-assward? Probably. But I didn’t want to do it the other way ’round.

    Please make me the 3rd vote for “content first”, thanks Laura!

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Make no mistake – I think there are still great opportunities on social media. And, you were definitely ahead of the curve. But, I think you have to have good content to share on social channels, otherwise, your efforts are going to be for naught. So many people jump in without having any idea of why they should use social media, what they hope to achieve or what they plan to share. That’s the biggest problem.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/jonosmith Jono Smith

    It’s ironic that the term “content marketing” and its description as “the number one marketing priority” have become so in vogue. I guess the people who say that are implying that the opposite of content marketing is bad, in-your-face product marketing. But hasn’t content marketing (a.k.a. “good” marketing) always been the most effective way to market?

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      Hi Jono – You’re right. Content marketing is far from new. It’s just been reinvented and has become more accessible in the digital age. Before now, it was far more expensive to get content directly into the hands of customers.

      Although content marketing has been around forever, I think creating good, useful, compelling content is still something that many businesses struggle with. So, I think that’s why it’s the number one priority. Though, as you pointed it, effective content should have always been the priority. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  • http://twitter.com/ericamallison Erica Allison

    Brogan has a post out now saying he doesn’t like social media anymore. I sense a tide swell among the gurus who used to offer the SM Koolaid that so many drank (yours truly included), only to realize that it’s just one of many Marketing tools.

    It’s a tactic, not a line of business. As a stand alone, no, SM does not do the trick. As a tactic in a larger, more strategic marketing plan, it can work nicely. The keys are to set goals/desired outcomes, measure them, and adjust as needed in order to support the overall marketing plan.
    :) Thanks!

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      I saw that post from Chris this morning. I think there are many in our space who are getting weary of the shininess of social media. It has worn off and we’re seeing it for what it is – another tool, just as you mentioned. I think there has been so much darn hype around social media that we’ve fooled ourselves into believing it’s a magic bullet. It’s not. No marketing tactic ever will be.

      Can it still work? Yes. But, as you articulated, it has to fit into the company’s overall goals and strategy.

      Great thoughts, Erica!

  • http://www.craigmcbreen.com/ Craig McBreen

    Hi Laura,

    I still think social media marketing is a nebulous concept for many companies and organizations. The platforms are changing so fast and many haven’t a clue where to begin. And like you’ve written, it’s full of hype and I’ll add, empty promises.

    Those platforms are just another group of tools in your arsenal, but without a plan a company will be involved in a huge time suck. And it is hard … as is effective content marketing, and design, and branding done right, etc. :)

    Nice post!

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      You make a great point, Craig. Businesses can waste a lot of time chasing after every new platform or channel that comes along. The harder (but more productive) task is to build a plan and stick to it. It’s about staying laser-focused on your goals instead of getting sucked into feeling like we need to do a bunch of things that aren’t going to help us get to where we want to be.

      Thanks for stopping by and weighing in, Craig!

  • Glenn Myatt

    There have been a number of reputable marketing (not social or digital) thinkers that have for sometime been saying social media is over hyped and over sold. Their common theme has been placing social media in the broader context of how people relate to brands, make decisions, use and digest media, and respond to marketing communications. There will be further reality checks as marketers better understand if their customers really want to have a conversation with their brands and what level of engagement is right them.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com/ Laura Click

      This is an excellent perspective, Glenn. I think that social media can definitely be valuable for all of the reasons you mentioned. The problem has largely been that we expect social media to do too much. I think we have to be realistic about expectations and look at what we want it to do for our business. After all, for some businesses it doesn’t make sense to engage in social media at all. We have to be realistic about that instead of glamorizing it into something that everyone HAS to has.

      Excellent comment and thanks for stopping by!

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