We need to talk about Social Media

Posted on:19. 11. 2015

By Luke Nottingham

The death of traditional digital advertising is looming.

We are now entering into an era within digital marketing where banner ads are becoming increasingly expensive as the market completely saturates. But, this isn’t the reason for the nail in the proverbial coffin. Rather, it's paid social media advertising that is the real challenge to traditional modes of advertising. 

Media audience enhancement platforms such as Outbrain which provide services to push content and ads to the best ad spaces on the web are becoming increasingly nervous about paid social ads. 

Why is this? It's mainly down to websites not gaining the traffic they used to because they are not the sole sources for online branding any longer. What is interesting however is that although it might be the case that websites aren't viewed as the sole avenue for digital brand development, websites are still integral to our buying psychology (we produced an infographic about this through our market research).

Twitter is no longer an organic farm.

Since the inception of paid ads and promoted tweets there has been a dramatic shift in power away from the average content producer on Twitter. ‘Content is King’, a phrase shouted through the digital echelons for years. Well, it now seems that this isn’t so important (at least not on the traditional platforms). Of course, you still have to produce content that is at the very least consumable – but the emphasis on the quality of content has waned due to the power of driving audiences through funneled targeting within social media ad tools.

This effectively means that it is nigh on impossible to stand out and gain any kind of significant organic following. As more and more businesses compete for space in front of their target audience on Twitter the less and less relevant organic content becomes for businesses - especially B2B businesses.

I would advise businesses to look to be implementing a concrete social media marketing strategy that combines both paid for advertising (not simply on promo content but on fun, supposedly trivial content too) and organic community based social media management.

Youngsters are leaving home early.

One of the biggest challenges that businesses face is the migration of key demographics away from the social media Big 3 (Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest) to more culturally exclusive platforms that avoid paid for advertising. The most influential of these demographics is the 16-24 market. Influential not because this bracket include the highest spenders or biggest consumers of products but because this age group define what is cool, and therefore, invest significantly into brands that support their identity formation.

Twitter reported that they had an almost 0% uptake in new users in the US at the last quarter of 2015. This represents a huge problem for Twitter's ongoing growth and market dominance. With no growth in users, the bones of the platform suddenly appear to be creaking. Again, it is evident that the saturation of business based content being spewed out over audiences through targeted ads is making the next generation of consumers simply opt out.

So what does this mean for businesses? Well, it means that the next generation of high spending consumers are going to have tastes and interests that are more refined than ever before. Businesses will have to begin to use alternative SM platforms to engage with new audiences, invest more heavily into social media and digital recruitment and ultimately take social media seriously. Small to medium sized businesses can ill afford to further behind.

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