“Facebook is dead to us… [it’s] now seen as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave.” So says “an actual teen” in a blog for medium.com, who goes on to say that Instagram is “by far the most used social media outlet for my age group… a lot of us simply do not understand the point of Twitter… [and] it’s almost impossible to ignore YouTube”.
With my journalist hat on, I’m uncomfortable taking all this at face value, but it chimes with much of what my teenage nieces and nephew have spoken about their use of social media over the last year.
With the release of Social Media Examiner’s excellent annual “Social Media Marketing Report: How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses”, it’s time to see whether those who want to help businesses, or themselves, make the most of social media are actually targeting their efforts in the right place… or whether, as our teenage friend above insinuates, we’re in danger of flogging a dead horse in the months and years to come.
Among the key findings of the report, based on a survey of more than 3,700 social media marketers, are:
- Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn hold the top spots for future plans: A significant 66% of marketers plan on increasing their use of these social networks;
- Marketers want to learn most about Facebook: While 93% of marketers are using Facebook, 68% want to learn more about it and 62% plan on increasing Facebook activities;
- Video is becoming important: Some 57% of marketers use video in their marketing; however, 72% want to learn more about video marketing and plan on increasing their use of video.
- Tactics and engagement are top areas marketers want to master: At least 91% of marketers want to know the most effective social tactics and the best ways to engage their audience with social media.
A majority of marketers (66%) will increase their activities on Twitter, according to the report, and yet in the last few days it appears Twitter is having something of an existential crisis.
In its own quarterly results released last week, the number of monthly active users who logged in at least once a month in the past quarter was up only 0.7% from the previous quarter.
According to Rick Summer, an analyst at investment research firm Morningstar, the outlook for Twitter is not good; user growth trends, he tells The Guardian, “are not encouraging”.
Meanwhile, our US teen adds: “Twitter is a place to follow/be followed by a bunch of random strangers, yet still have your identity be attached to it. Your tweets are also easily searchable on Twitter which is good but not good if you want to be yourself and not have it follow you around when you’re trying to land a job.”
Twitter may be the go-to social network for media outlets who want to show they are engaging with their audiences and presenting themselves as knowing what “public opinion” is really saying. And this coverage of Twitter could well be overplaying the network’s importance, both future and present, to marketers who, after all, often live and die by the coverage sword.
Trouble ahead for Facebook?
Some 62% of marketers plan on increasing Facebook activities in the next year, and the signs would appear to be more encouraging here.
Facebook’s average monthly active users climbed 13% year-over-year to 1.49 billion and daily active users jumped 17% to 968 million, in results published last week.
Yet our teen says: “It’s weird and can even be annoying to have Facebook at times. That being said, if you don’t have Facebook, that’s even more weird and annoying. Weird because of the social pressure behind the question, ‘Everyone has Facebook, why don’t you?’.”
You’re focussing on what?
Networks such as Instagram, Snapchat and Reddit are the up and coming networks used by the teenage generation… the generation that will form the future of what is still really a nascent form of marketing.
So are marketers focussing their efforts on the wrong targets, and why?
This is not necessarily the case. The report adds: “A significant 66% of marketers plan on increasing their YouTube marketing. However, 15% have no plans for using YouTube.”
Good move. Our teen says: “YouTube has been a major part in replacing the amount of time I spend watching television due to the high quality of both original content on the site and more companies agreeing to put clips of their broadcasted content on the site.”
Yet in the same report, we find Google+ is on the radar for many marketers. Most businesses (52%) plan on increasing their Google+ activities. Our teen sums up: “As it stands today, Google+ is a platform that has sadly fallen off the radar for many, myself included.”
Go to where your audience is
When I set up Bristol24/7, the independent online newspaper in Bristol in 2009, social media was absolutely key to its success. I was able to go where the conversations were taking place and introduce myself to the online community in the city.
It took a long while for marketing agencies to catch up with what was happening, and perhaps demonstrates marketing professionals’ conservative nature. The report adds, for example, that when a new social network comes on the scene, the vast majority of marketers (67%) do nothing or only registers usernames. Only 5% of marketers actively adopt new social platforms.
The moral to the story is simple: it’s the same moral that has applied since social media became a “thing”. Social media is changing all the time, so go to where your audience is, deliver the kind of content they want, and remember that what worked last week isn’t necessarily what will deliver results this. Run to catch up!