21 Interesting Social Media Questions Answered by Top Social media Experts
We approached these experts and requested them to contribute to this post – everyone had to respond to one social media question sent by us. As expected, we received some amazingly interesting and thought-provoking answers.
The iMarketing Café team heartily thanks all the participants for taking time out to respond. Here we go…
Small businesses that don’t go social will not survive in the long run. Is this statement true or false?
Small businesses (especially local businesses) can indeed survive without social media, but it’s not a cause and effect scenario. Social media alone won’t make any business succeed (or fail), because social media success is born from corporate culture more than marketing or technology. If your company sucks, Twitter is the least of your problems. The real story here is that good companies survive, and not coincidentally, good companies use social media not because it ensures that survival, but because they genuinely care what customers have to say and WANT to interact in those social venues.
Erik Qualman – International Author, Keynote Speaker, Founder at Socialnomics, Global VP – Digital Marketing at EF Education and Professor of Digital Marketing at Hult International Business School. Follow him on Twitter
How do you think the social media landscape will change 5 years from now?
We will no longer have to manually input or upload our status, tweets, videos and photos. Through advancements in smartphones and wearable technology we will simple say “share”.
Will social signals ever emerge as a stronger SEO ranking factor than links?
In my opinion, I don’t believe we’ll see social signals overtake links in the next 5 years (which, in the SEO & web technology world, is forever!). That said, I do believe we’re already living in a world where social signals are a primary way content is found and links are created by the web itself. Thus, if you’re not investing in social, it’s extremely hard to earn links in the first place, so as an indirect ranking factor, social has a huge influence.
Do you think any business can go social? Are there specific types of businesses for which social media might not be the right fit?
The only businesses that shouldn’t go social are those run by people who don’t really care what their customers think or want.
It is widely believed that Pinterest is a great platform for eCommerce promotion and stats too seem to suggest so. Is it a hype or fact?
It is fact rather than Hype when done well.
Here are some cold hard facts from an ecommerce business. Boticca is an online boutique for unique jewelry and fashion accessories.
They traced the sales, average sales, conversions and engagement of 50,000 visitors from Pinterest and 50,000 from Facebook.
Here are 5 things Boticca learned about marketing on Facebook compared to Pinterest
1. Pinterest users spend more when shopping at $180 vs $85 by Facebook users
2. Pinterest users spent 65% less time on the site than Facebook
3. Pinterest influenced more sales (10%) than Facebook (7%)
4. Pinterest has a 51% lower conversion rate compared to Facebook
5. Pinterest acquired 86% new users vs Facebook at 57%
The bottom line is that Pinterest influenced 10% of sales.
For more information read 5 Insights on Facebook vs Pinterest in driving sales – Infographic
How do you think the social media marketing industry has changed since the early days?
A lot has changed in the past 10 years. From forums to blogging to social networks to mobile social, the explosion in social media adoption by consumers as well as increased investment from brands has evolved social media marketing completely.
As social media adoption increased, many so called social media experts jumped on the bandwagon to offer their services, producing an extreme range of results for brands. Companies used to focus on listening to the social web but soon began to invest in their online and social media reputation through social content and engagement. As channels matured, more companies figured out how to organically market on social networks by creating useful content and promoting offers.
Now, that organic marketing opportunity is diminishing and being replaced by the social networks’ drive to monetize with paid social advertising. Organic social content is still important for engaging and growing community, but paid amplification is required in order to stand out. The change from organic to paid, the increased role of mobile and the assignment of social leadership positions, dedicated departments and more substantial budgets are the biggest changes I’ve seen in social media marketing.
Researchers at Princeton University have predicted that Facebook will lose 80% of its peak user base by 2017. What’s your take on that? Is this a possibility?
The problem with the comparison is that Facebook, unlike an infectious disease, continually adjusts to keep its host alive. You can’t compare a business entity that thrives only when the audience thrives to a disease that has no sense of reason or rationale to keep the host body alive. Diseases aren’t smart. Facebook is.
What’s in store for social media marketing as the world goes mobile?
The switch to mobile has had a pronounced impact on how we do social media marketing. Two years ago, we were developing highly immersive brand programs that often occurred on Facebook tabs and often took the large screen size of a desktop to participate. One of our programs, for example, required users to click on the differences between two pictures. That’s not going to be a great mobile experience. So we’ve fundamentally changed the programs we build and how they operate. We design for mobile first and then look to see if there’s anything we can/should add as screen size grows to tablet size or desktop size.
But we’ve also seen the changes as they relate to visual content. As people consume content on their devices, the user sessions are much, much shorter. So people are using their phones most often for “snackable” content. Things they can digest and share quickly. That’s led to the dramatic rise in photo content. The mistake some brands make is that photo content IS social media marketing. It’s really just one small part of it. In fact, if you look at the most shared articles online, longer content is actually shared the most. So while we need to respect the changes that mobile has brought to social, we can’t let it make our brands one trick ponies.
Do you think the growing popularity of mobile apps may hurt the social networking giants in the long run?
No, I think it’s actually helped them immensely since social is driven by frequency of the participants. Facebook and Twitter especially would die a slow death quite the opposite way, if they didn’t embrace it. If you’re more asking if other apps, like Whatsapp and Kik etc, I do think this is where the younger demographic is leaning towards for sure, hence why Facebook paid billions for What’s app.
What are your social media predictions for 2015?
“Messaging apps are already huge, and as mobile technology continues to influence consumer behaviour, these apps, designed exclusively for mobile use, will dominate the conversation landscape even further.
“The social stalwarts have their own offerings – Facebook Messenger saw a global usage increase of 13% in the latter half of 2013 and its $19bn purchase of WhatsApp – which now claims to have half a billion active users – is a clear indicator of where it believes the future lies.
“Arguably, however, the biggest potential lies with Eastern messaging apps. China’s WeChat grew from 271.9 million monthly users in Q3 2013 to 355 million in Q4. Japan’s Line is openly snapping at the heels of WhatsApp and showing impressive user growth, as well as strong revenue generation through games and stickers. My money would be on these apps to make the biggest impact in 2015.”
It’s widely believed that Facebook’s move to slash organic reach for pages is aimed at driving businesses to go for paid campaigns. What’s your take on that? A recent report published by Ogilvy says “organic reach of the content brands publish in Facebook is destined to hit zero”. The report mentions that Facebook sources were unofficially advising community managers to expect it to approach zero in the foreseeable future. What does demise of organic reach in Facebook mean for social media marketers?
I completely agree that organic reach for brand communication on Facebook could go to zero. I have no fault with Facebook for doing this. It’s their platform and they can do what they wish to with it. I feel horrible for all those brands who spent so much money building an audience on Facebook, and now that audience sees nothing from them unless it’s paid.
My recommendation is that Facebook should be used primarily for paid opportunities for brands and that brands don’t build their content ship on rented land. Ultimately, whatever content you create, you should own the platform…or be destined to repeat in other channels what happened with Facebook.
Do you think the social media marketing industry will undergo major changes in the next 5 years? Can you let us know a couple of key changes that are likely to take place?
Users are saturated with social media content from overpopulated streams and News Feeds. We’ve been bombarded with updates and notifications from friends and family we love, pages we Like, brands we follow, and colleagues we connect with. I predict as our daily Internet consumption moves away from the desktop (and even the laptop), the landscape of social media will see a dramatic shift to mobile.
Mobile has become mainstream with smartphone hardware maturing, wireless data advancing and mobile-design becoming mainstream. A recent study released by Aweber and the 60 Second Marketer compiled the mobile marketing efforts of over 160 businesses across the globe. What they found is that many businesses know they need to be optimized for mobile, but are just now getting caught up with the mobile movement.
According to the survey, only one in three businesses has a mobile marketing strategy. Those that do? Well 70% of them began their mobile presence just under a year ago. The main challenge with mobile marketing? Most of the businesses (32%) list the primary challenge as lack of know how.…even though 78% of them are doing it entirely on their own. And, of course, they’re having trouble figuring out how to measure it.
The data shows that more and more people are conducting searches via mobile. And yet, because businesses can’t figure out how to measure it, and they can’t figure out how to do it on their own, they sit on the sidelines while faster, smarter businesses push forward– understanding that the trend of customer behavior should dictate their marketing direction.
So what’s a marketer to do? In order to succeed in social in the next five years, brands and agencies that create social content must think like the mobile user, one that has always grown up with a smartphone and a few favorite apps. Marketers need to get educated and talk to mobile partners. And most important, listen and observe what your customers are doing: How did they find you? How are they interacting with companies via mobile today?
Since LinkedIn’s launch, so many professional networks have emerged and some have even gained significant popularity, but none of them could surpass LinkedIn, which still remains the largest professional network in the world. What is the X factor that makes LinkedIn more attractive to professionals?
LinkedIn had a significant first-mover advantage in the professional networking space, and their dominant user base attests to that. That’s not enough though (as many other networks can attest), and I’d say that they’ve long moved beyond relying on that initial advantage.
LinkedIn is a platform that has successfully made the transition from a pure networking site to being a business content and news provider as well. Most recently, their INfluencer program was a smart way to drive attention for their long-form content opportunities before they opened that opportunity up to a broader audience – and they’ve promoted the content well to their users to drive awareness. Features like this, along with the long-running LinkedIn Groups, mean users can also build their own reputations by showcasing their expertise. LinkedIn has made smart acquisitions in the space, too – SlideShare and Pulse immediately come to mind – which have really fuelled that transition.
I’d add that LinkedIn has taken a smart approach to creating opportunities for brands – company pages, showcase pages and their paid media offerings are well-targeted and provide a reason for businesses to buy into the platform.
(Disclosure: LinkedIn is an Edelman client)
As a marketer, what is the one thing that you like and dislike about social media?
What I HATE about social media: It’s a lot harder to do well than people expect. You must advertise, but many organizations resist that. Myths linger from Twitter’s early days. For example, some say conversation is essential. That is true in social networking. But in Facebook marketing, conversation is optional. Or it takes a form that doesn’t look like conversation to Twitter devotees. Social media should empower the masses but can create even more hero worship. There is a quiet struggle between PR and direct marketing. Executives and social marketers have trouble speaking the same language. And gurus sometimes take advantage of the social media managers on the front lines.
What I LOVE about social media: it seems inevitable now, doesn’t it? It was an anemic part of online experience, and we didn’t realize it! Social tells us what our customers like. It teaches us who our readers, audience and customers are. If you “get” your fans and customers, you’ll always be in demand. Facebook advertising is the biggest marketing opportunity in history. It makes the huge reach of TV and radio (with much better targeting) available to everyone. And for as little as $1 a day. LinkedIn ended many problems we had with networking, credibility and job seeking. Content marketing is teaching, informing and entertaining, distributed via search and social. It’s fascinating but challenging. The current obstacle is how to fulfill each company’s need for constantly new content. But there are more opportunities for differentiation than ever.
What are some of the misconceptions that clients generally have about social media?
1. Clients often look at social media primarily as a marketing channel. Social media is a communication channel that can be used for marketing – but it’s not solely a marketing channel. The first strategy for a client getting on social media should always be to develop a process to route and resolve customer service and sales requests immediately. This is what the audience expects despite the client’s view of how the channel is used. Not being responsive to these requests will destroy any marketing strategy you did have planned.
2. Clients want to measure the performance and return on investment in social media with every tweet or update. It’s like measuring the success of a band after they hit the first drum beat. Your social media return on investment can only be measured after you actually bring value to an audience, that audience (listening) becomes a community (sharing), and you build both authority and trust in your industry. In other words, you have to make great music before you can expect to sell!
3. Clients often leave social media to the marketing department, who are unprepared to respond. Marketing often excels at branding and messaging – but not at responding. Customer Service, Public Relations and Sales personnel are the resources in your company who pitch everyday, listen and respond to concerns, and understand how to deal with objections. Deploying a great social media strategy includes these personnel while marketing helps craft the messaging and measure the impact.
4. Clients think social media must be perfect, without mistakes. Day after day, week after week, and month after month we see these incredible examples of how companies have done something that the professional social media gurus call disasters. They may be mistakes, but they’re often not disasters. If you look up all the incredible blunders on social media by companies, the vast majority had NO impact on sales, stock prices, or profits. Companies can absolutely make mistakes and fully recover from them. In fact, we’ve seen where the echoing of blunders has often grown the company’s sales since news channels and other social outlets echo the issue beyond what any advertising could have paid. The strategy comes in the resolution of the mistake and recovering can be a huge boon to business as it builds trust and authenticity with the audience.
What’s the next big thing in Social Media?
David Meerman Scott:
The next big thing in social media doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we can now engage in real time with more than half the people in the world. Social networking is like science fiction, but it is here now.
How has social media changed the way marketers must do their job?
While some might say that social makes marketing more complex, I’d suggest it hasn’t per se, and makes it easier in many ways. On very old maps when the cartographer didn’t have information for a section they were drawing they’d write, “Here be monsters,” or some such blather. Sadly, marketers still carry on this tradition when developing marketing strategy and planning programs.
Even today most marketing is done in a vacuum. Marketing staff will make up some nonsense about who they think the customer might be, but they don’t know since they’ve never really met or talked with a customer. In old school marketing you could get away with this because of the difficulty and expense to obtain this insight. That’s no longer true.
The ability to have direct conversations, listen, participate, and even mine data is at an unprecedented level. You can get this right now by simply logging on to social networks where your brand’s fans are active. This means that marketers who fail to engage and converse with brand fans will quickly become irrelevant and unemployable. It’s happening already.
This is not a dire warning, but a huge opportunity to leap frog ahead because the inverse is true. By spending time on your brand’s social outposts you can hear what customers need. What excites them. What values they connect with from the brand, and how they see the brand’s role in their buying process.
Marketing will always have a little guess work, which is why “Always Be Testing” is mandatory. However, now you can make educated guesses that shorten the learning curve and give you an unfair advantage over your slow-witted competitors. In the meanwhile you can watch the neo-luddite marketers slug their way to extinction.
What it takes to become a social media rock star?
Don’t put all of your eggs in one marketing discipline basket: If you are a one-dimensional marketer—you’re easily disposable. You don’t have to be an expert in any one thing, but you do need to understand how marketing works across multiple disciplines, including social, content, PR, influencer marketing, demand gen, email etc. I call this the renaissance marketer and this person is well-versed in multiple facets of marketing. Their areas of interest span traditional and digital frameworks and this will lay the foundation for becoming a social media “rockstar”
Does social media have an edge over other marketing channels for brand storytelling?
Social media certainly brings a new dimension to the brand storyteller. More so than ever before, the storyteller can get all kinds of instant feedback that was never before possible with traditional media. This means, because social media is a dialogue, the storyteller who is listening is continuously learning. He or she can become better, more engaging storytellers. And of course, the audience becomes characters in the story. Yup. The game’s changed in a big way.
When it comes to social media marketing, which is the most underrated social platform and why?
The most underrated social platform is Slideshare. It offers a way for anyone to establish instant credibility as a thought leader, and it has a very strong long tail effect, where presentations may continue to get views months or years after they’re posted.
B.L Ochman – Digital Strategist, Social Media Consultant to Fortune 500 Companies, Google+ Helpouts Coach, YouTube Channel Creator, President at whatsnextonline.com and Publisher What’s Next Blog. CEO of Maximum Plus. Follow her on Twitter
If you could change one thing about Google+, what would it be and why?
While I believe Google+ is the biggest advance in online communications since the interactive website, it has a steep learning curve and that’s what needs to change.
Google+ is created by Google engineers and programmers, and they are notoriously poor at clear explanations.
Google has published literally thousands of pages and scores of videos ostensibly explaining how to use the platform’s many features, but hardly any of it is clear enough for newbies.
The biggest issue is that Google initially promoted G+ as a new social platform and that’s not what it is. Google+ has a social element, but it’s also got arguably the best video platform ever, built in and free, plus integration with every Google product, including search, drive, email and YouTube.
A small industry, including my new company Maximum-Plus.com has sprung up to teach companies how to use Google+ because it has incredibly valuable, free, features that businesses should be using. When we train companies in Google+ there is always an “ahha!” moment when they understand the potential, and that moment always makes my day.
Invariably, our clients say “I had no idea Google+ could do that!” Two years after launch, that’s more than a little surprising.
Chief among the best G+ features is Hangouts On Air, with which you can create private, paid events for audiences large and small. BUT there are a minimum of a dozen steps just to set up an event, and those steps change at Google’s whim.
I’d start by simplifying the process, and then I’d make sure it is explained in plain English with step-by-step instructions.
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