You must have noticed how social media have moved from their early dreams of being social networks, to becoming merely boring advertising platforms with mundane, inundating advertisements. So what's next for marketers?
Quite a few media, mainstream or otherwise, have begun to report on the decline of the social nature of social networks, to becoming just yet more advertising platforms. Facebook is already fast reducing the organic reach of Pages, so that no matter how tirelessly you labor to build fan bases, your reach to those fans you laboriously fought to build, will hardly even see your content. If you want to reach your fans, it is down to well, advertising on the network.
So, the question for many marketers with localized and regional businesses is, "Why advertise on such a network, when we can reach our local customers more directly?"
At the same time, the relentless snooping and privacy concerns have also caused many traditional open social networks to lose their luster. More and more people, especially the younger set, have opted for more private social networks like SnapChat and many other emerging networks, to converse with a select few friends and family members, rather than broadcast their daily laundry to all and sundry.
Given these backdrops, it has become clear that some of the original premises of social networks have given way to commercialization, and therefore, a steady and certain decay, which invariably means that marketers need to start looking at what's next, and start figuring out the farther horizon to ensure that marketing does not become a truncated and myopic micro-platform of mere advertising. Marketing is so much more.
The first and foremost thing for marketers to remember is NEVER rely on third-parties like social networks or search engines to be your salvation. They are not. These platforms and tools are more often than not, commercial companies with a profit agenda. If they are public-listed, no matter how noble their ideals, they will have to cater to the ever hungrier demands of shareholders. It is inevitable. If they are not public listed (yet), the chance that a good social network platform getting gobbled up by a large public listed entity is very real, and in turn, losing not just independence and ideals, but melding into the same material ethos of the larger entities.
Second, marketers should always develop in-house substance, in this case, quality content. Content should not be merely product information, technical specifications, news releases, and video advertisements. Content that engages the young and the old today are educational and entertaining, and not just commercials that get flipped away or dismissed. This means serious financial and time investment in getting quality content developers to work on such content, and to refine them over time into engaging funnels of customer retention.
Third, marketers should never be afraid to experiment. Early adoption of technologies can be scary to some, but should not be. Spend some time, resources and people to study any and all possibilities of tools and platforms, and see which fits better into your commercial agenda and environment. If you haven't tried something, however briefly, you will be in no intelligent position to know why it is worthless, or why it will work.
Fourth, marketers need to nurture the virtues of persistence. No tool or platform will work on the first experiment, just as no cake is edible the first time you try to bake. You need to try, fail, try again, fail again, and try yet again. Don't give up just because you experience mere failure or even utter defeat. Keep trying, keep going.
Just because someone blows smoke at your face, it does not mean that this someone is really that big a deal he makes himself out to be. Be discerning, be curious, be persevering, be forward-looking, and most of all, be brave. Marketing is not for the faint-hearted, and dose up and prepare for battle.