Is Social Media Marketing on Its Way Out the Door?
Social media has always had a cyclical nature. Facebook, once the king of all platforms, has begun to wane in popularity. This is due in part to Facebook’s gross misuse of its users’ personal data, as well as the fact that once everybody’s parents discovered it, Facebook was no longer the cool thing to spend your time on. And as users migrate away from traditional social media platforms, certain brands are starting to do the same. Why is this happening, and could this mean an end of social media marketing as we know it?
Lush UK Deletes Their Social Media Accounts
In a daring move that shocked many, beauty and cosmetics brand Lush UK announced their move away from social media in April 2019.
We're switching up social.
Increasingly, social media is making it harder and harder for us to talk to each other directly. We are tired of fighting with algorithms, and we do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed. pic.twitter.com/nJUzG0lham
— LUSH UK (@LushLtd) April 8, 2019
They cited their decision as due to being “tired of fighting algorithms,” and they are looking for a more personal way to connect with customers. They emphasize that they are still available to be contacted via email and phone. As a vegetarian-friendly beauty label that uses minimal packaging for their products, this is in line with their brand as funky, alternative, and ethically concerned.
However, Lush is not alone in abandoning their social media accounts. Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has decreed social media to be a waste of time, effort, and personnel, and has abandoned its Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. Elon Musk has deleted the Facebook pages of Tesla and SpaceX following news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Could this be the beginning of a wider trend?
Clearly, brands like Lush and Tesla are strong enough to hold their own without having to rely on Facebook marketing. (Interestingly, Lush North America has stated that their social media channels aren’t going anywhere.) However, could this also be the right move for smaller brands? What new communication channels will arise to take the place of Facebook and Twitter?
Is Social Media Marketing a Scam?
Buying ads on Facebook and other popular social media platforms came about as a way to get a brand’s message across to viewers who were most likely to respond to it. However, as selling ads became a lucrative business for Facebook, its value for companies began to drop. This is due to the rise of “click farms,” businesses that pay workers to click on Facebook ads under fake accounts. As many a social media marketer has found out, traffic on Facebook does not necessarily equal conversions.
Not only is the traffic generated by Facebook ads highly inflated, this can actually affect algorithms determining what kind of accounts Facebook shows your ad to. Basically, the more fake accounts that click on your ad, the more likely it is that Facebook will primarily expose your ad to fake accounts. This doesn’t even bring to account Facebook’s recent PR push to make people’s newsfeeds primarily about friends and family, rather than advertising.
Other social media sites have seen comparable problems, thanks to ad-blocking software, the rise of bots on Twitter, and overall consumer fatigue with the attention economy. One study showed 74% of millennials and Gen Z users were annoyed by branded advertising on their social media feeds. Many are deleting social media apps altogether.
So is the answer really to pull the plug on all social media accounts?
Well, no… not necessarily. But it is very likely we are entering the long, cold twilight of social media marketing. While this may dismay influencers and others who have built their livelihood around social platforms, it also offers an exciting opportunity for a more direct, personalized method of connecting brands with their users.
The Age of the Push Notification
Push notifications are a highly sophisticated, versatile, and customizable method of communicating your brand message. Perfectly tailored for the digital age, push notifications are bite-sized and instantaneous. They can be augmented with rich media, GIFs, video clips, and deep links direct users to a specific page in-app. Unlike public ads, push notifications are seen only by those users who have downloaded your mobile app. They can be timed to go out at the moment that they are most likely to have an effect.
Most people would be lost without their smartphones, so it stands to reason that sending messages directly to their phone are the best way to get their attention. The social media marketing industry has long been exploited by click farms and other profiteers. Push notifications are a simple, straightforward means of boosting and analyzing customer engagement.
Traditional push notification platforms involve data silos and cloud servers who process customer data and send out push tokens. But OpenBack’s patent-pending SDK gives you the option to cut out all third parties. Our default setting utilizes edge computing and machine learning to leverage device-side data, meaning customer data stays securely on their own device.
This is groundbreaking in terms of data privacy, and compliance to data protection laws such as GDPR. It also allows for personalization of notifications to an extent not seen before. This allows for a truly genuine conversation between user and mobile app, where you don’t need to pay money to a social media giant or navigate their ever-changing algorithms in order to speak with consumers.
Push notifications are the next stage in digital marketing, where their quality is measured not in empty traffic, but in real customer engagement.