Is ALL Social Media Engagement Meaningless for SEO?

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June 3, 2024

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Is ALL Social Media Engagement Meaningless for SEO?

The Broken Promise of Marketing Utopia

I hate pimping. You know what I mean – that type of marketing that is nothing more than incessant shouting of “LOOK AT ME! BUY NOW!” day after day. Ugh. I much prefer building meaningful relationships where a brand truly cares about its customers and gives them something of genuine value in exchange for their attention.

That’s why I was so excited when social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter first emerged. Billions of people were spending a ton of time on these wonderful new platforms, engaging in organic conversations. Brands could finally have a presence and contribute meaningful updates to be part of those conversations, helping to build brand familiarity, shift perceptions, and foster loyalty.

Imagine if you were a travel company – you could share information about amazing destinations, travel tips, and even help people create moments of happiness by escaping the daily grind. Or if you were Cisco, you could share content to help engineers get promoted, like usage shortcuts and solutions to common problems. The possibilities for giving value and building genuine connections were endless!

The Zuck Death Spiral

Sadly, that didn’t happen. Businesses of all types jumped onto social media and did the exact opposite – they started pimping. Rather than providing value, their collective imagination could only muster up posts that were little more than “LOOK AT US! BUY NOW!”

Real humans on social media quickly got turned off by this low-quality, self-promotional content. They stopped engaging with it. Facebook (and other social platforms) noticed this, and slowly started decreasing the organic reach of brand posts. This led to even less engagement, which social platforms responded to by further reducing reach. And so the Zuck Death Spiral was born.

Today, most brands get less than 1% organic reach on their social media posts. And the engagement they do get is dismal – we’re talking Applause Rates (likes/reactions) of 0.00113%, Conversation Rates (comments) of 0.00011%, and Amplification Rates (shares) of 0.00005%. For a company like Expedia that gets 59.4 million website visits per month, these numbers are practically non-existent.

Paid Social is the Answer

So if organic social media is a wasteland, what’s the solution? Stop all organic social media activity and switch to a paid social media strategy.

The massive audiences on social platforms are still valuable, but you have to approach it differently. Use paid advertising on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others to drive short and medium-term brand and performance outcomes. Ditch the fuzzy metrics like impressions and video views, and instead focus on:

For See and Care intent marketing strategies:
– Reach
– Brand Awareness
– Brand Favorability
– Brand Recommendation

For Think and Do intent marketing strategies:
– Clicks
– Conversions
– Revenue
– Profit

Measure the impact using the same rigorous standards you apply to your other digital advertising efforts. Hold your agency and employees accountable for delivering real business results, not just vanity metrics. This is the path to true social media ROI.

The Promise of AI-Powered Utopia

I’m optimistic that one day we’ll get back to the marketing utopia I envisioned at the start. The fact that companies struggle so much to deliver genuine value to customers is deeply heartbreaking. But I believe the solution lies in getting rid of the humans!

Hear me out. I think artificial intelligence and machine learning will be the key to solving this problem. Current algorithms are already far better than humans at processing billions of signals across millions of touchpoints to understand complex patterns of user behavior and intent. Give these smart algorithms control over the content, targeting, and optimization of social media campaigns, and they’ll be able to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time – all while optimizing for long-term business profitability.

No more relying on the limited abilities and narrow incentives of human marketers. AI will be able to truly understand customers and deliver value at scale. It may take a few more years, but I believe the future of social media marketing is a bright one – we just have to get the humans out of the way first.

A Call to Arms

So there you have it – organic social media is largely a waste of time and resources for most businesses. The Zuck Death Spiral has ensured that, and even the most incredible content will struggle to break through the noise.

Your best path forward is to shift your focus and budget to paid social media campaigns. Use the targeting and optimization capabilities of the platforms to drive real business results, not just vanity metrics. And keep an eye on the horizon, because AI is coming to solve the social media marketing puzzle once and for all.

If you’re currently defining your professional career as a “Social Media Analyst” or “Social Media Marketer”, I’d encourage you to rethink that strategy. The opportunities in those roles are only going to become more limited. Instead, focus on expanding your skillset to become a true Digital Marketer – one who can optimize campaigns across the entire landscape, not just social media.

The choice is yours. You can keep investing time and money into organic social media efforts that deliver little to no business impact. Or you can pivot to a data-driven, results-oriented paid social strategy that aligns with the rest of your marketing efforts. The path to success and career growth is clear – it’s time to make the shift.

MCR SEO is an SEO agency in Manchester, UK that can help you navigate the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing. Contact us today to learn more about our proven strategies for driving real business results.

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