Ego metrics and propaganda won't help win the social media war

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 9 February 2018

Headlines declaring the death of organic growth have caused a stir in adland since Facebook announced changes to its News Feed that deprioritise brands and publishers in favour of content from friends and family.

A new report from We Are Social and Hootsuite finds that organic growth dropped 10% in 2017 and predicts that figure will fall again this year.

So should content marketers and social media agencies just call it quits? And what will help them weather the social media storm and win the war?

Simon Kemp, founder of marketing consultant business Kepios, doesn’t believe it’s all doom and gloom for brands looking to leverage audiences on social media, but marketers to need to rethink their content strategies.

Speaking at Hootsuite’s Digital in 2018 event in Sydney yesterday, Kemp said that brands need to be prepared to increase their spend on social media to achieve the same reach and engagement they’ve enjoyed in the past.

“For every seven people that like your brand, only one of them will see your post organically, which means if you want to reach the other six, you have to pay,” he said.

Simon KempSimon Kemp speaking at the Hootsuite Breakfast

He noted that increasing spend won’t be available to some smaller or charity brands, and these organisations need to reframe how marketers measure metrics.

“Don’t assume that every post has to achieve maximum reach. A lot of us still measure reach on a post-by-post basis, but we should try to get ourselves out of this mentality and shift to a total audience perspective,” Kemp said, adding that marketers could measure their reach on a monthly basis instead of a daily basis.

As a result of Facebook’s new News Feed, marketers need to be prepared for the rising cost of paid social media.

“Organic reach will go down further and, as a result, we will see brands need to invest further and marketers will need to increase budget, and that means there will be greater competition. Therefore, there will be inflation in terms of the amount you spend for reach of your posts,” he said.

As prices rise, marketers should rethink their frequency of posts, Kemp suggested.

"The idea of posting every day was created in the days of organic reach. Back then, if you posted every day your reach and engagement would increase. But today, there’s less of an advantage in posting daily.”

facebook organic growth

Another fallacy, or “ego metric” as Kemp describes it, is that brands have to have a large number of followers on their page.

“Brands are investing in likes across their page but if you aren’t going to reach that whole audience organically, you have to consider if that is the best use of your budget, compared to using that budget to boost individual posts,” Kemp said.

He added there is less use to increasing numbers of fans on a Facebook page in this social economy.

“It’s an ego metric. In some instances it does help in shareholder conversations to boast about the number of fans, but that number can be cheated so let’s move on to better indicators of brand value.”

Taking it back to basics, Kemp referenced the concepts of push and pull marketing; push marketing he likened to propaganda, but whereas pull marketing establishes a loyal following and draw consumers to the products.

He said that brands are guilty of the “dating sin” of only talking about themselves and, therefore, turning off customers.

Read more: How Facebook's News Feed changes impacted test markets

“A lot of our marketing is still propaganda, let’s be honest with ourselves. When we talk about our products and services we try to force people to buy and we are forgetting that’s not the best way to build relationships and engage people,” he said.

He referenced Nike as a brand that has an effective pull marketing strategy, creating its marathon events which people can take part in to better themselves and their health.

Kemp's last piece of advice to brands is to use authentic, micro influencers.

"We spend most of our time as marketers looking at the celebrities with massive reach. But marketers have to consider, as there is dangers with using influencers, if they should use celebrities or use their own paid media to reach the same outcome with less stress," he said.

Kemp's top six simple steps to succeed on social media:

  • Increase your paid strategy
  • Be prepared to spend more on a paid strategy due to inflation
  • Stop posting daily
  • Boost individual posts instead of the brand’s page 
  • Create pull marketing, not propaganda
  • Use influencers

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