Business owners have been hounded again and again about the importance of having a presence on social networks like Facebook and Twitter and using those platforms to engage customers and promote their business.
There’s one problem: They don’t actually work.
Nate Elliott, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, says that social media marketing rarely provides the great payback that businesses assume it will. Recent research from Forrester and others, he writes in a blog post, finds that posts from top brands on Facebook and Twitter reach just 2 percent of their followers. But what about the engagement opportunities? A measly 0.07 percent of followers interact with posts.
The low reach and engagement has gotten even worse since Facebook announced last year that it was drastically cutting the organic reach of businesses’ Facebook posts—trying to convince them that they should pay to promote their posts if they want followers to actually see them. The company announced last week it was cutting organic reach of Facebook Pages’ posts even further after feedback showed that users wanted to see less promotional content in their news feeds.
Elliott says all this means one thing: Companies need to stop making Facebook, Twitter and other third-party social networks the center of their marketing strategy. “It’s clear that Facebook and Twitter don’t offer the relationships that marketing leaders crave,” Elliott writes. “Yet most brands still use these sites as the centerpiece of their social efforts—thereby wasting significant financial, technological, and human resources on social networks that don’t deliver value.”
So, if Facebook and Twitter don’t work, what does? A new Forrester study provides some guidance. Elliott points to two key takeaways:
Focus on email marketing. Email is still the number-one tool most companies have in their marketing arsenal. Emails are far more likely to be seen and read by your followers than social media posts and provide more flexibility in how you engage with your customers. “If you have to choose between adding a subscriber to your email list or gaining a new Facebook fan, go for email every time,” Elliott writes.
Create a branded community. Rather than rely on third-party social networks, consider incorporating social networking and relationship tools into your own web site. This will become a much larger trend among businesses in 2015, Elliott predicts. Sony’s GreatnessAwaits.com is one example of how a company has successfully built a strong online community, already attracting 4.5 million visitors.
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