This may just be the career-limiting blog that breaks my leader’s back, so if you don’t see any future posts from me, you’ll know I went too far. Dare I say it, social media is not the holy grail of marketing. 

Unable to shy away from the incessant chatter regarding the decline of organic reach in Facebook, the mass exodus of <35s from the platform and the beacon of hope the latest shiny object in the social space represents for marketers, I finally decided to speak up. Facebook’s decision to finally weigh in on the first conversation re: organic reach decline, is the latest impetus, leaving me unable to hold my tongue any longer, even if I am destined to stand alone.

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Well some of the villagers might be readying their pitchforks, but let’s just calm down a second. I am not saying I have it all figured out, but the truth is, is that silver bullets are a myth and so are many of the things we tell ourselves in media/marketing and we need to start confronting this harsh reality.

First. Social media emerged into a media landscape that was and still is fraught with never-ending and escalating challenges when it pertains to audience engagement. There is not one media avenue that consumers use that isn’t going through massive shifts, redistributions and declines. So, out of the gate it looked like social media was the Holy Grail of marketing woes.

CLM Point 1: It wasn’t, it isn’t and clairvoyant that I am, it is not likely going to be. Don’t succumb to the magpie syndrome.

Second. The one golden rule that has survived the evolution of marketing communications is, “content is king”. How many brands started a Facebook page and posted everything under the sun without trying to understand how it was different from traditional media? Even the most insightful didn’t get it right in the early days. But today, there is no excuse. We know better. Know your audience–intimately. Know what platforms they’re using, what appeals to them and continually learn and look to other brands.

CLM Point 2: If you are still swinging from the rafters without a net (a strategy or a plan and well-crafted content), you are the reason organic rates are in decline. Sorry to be harsh, but it’s true.

Third. Social media sites as a whole are free to the user. Sites like Hulu have played with shared cost structures but we live in an era where we don’t want to pay for our desired content. That is all nice and well, but someone has to. We have a very skewed perception if we thought that leveraging a platform(s) that doesn’t charge user fees wouldn’t at some point go looking for ways to financially sustain themselves.

CLM Point 3: Social media cannot replace investing in your own assets and I don’t say this because Cult believes it. I say it because it’s true. Media platforms, to whom you are beholden to for audience interaction, hold the balance of power and that’s alright* as long as you understand why you’re using them and are developing a strong, independent engagement strategy.

Like myself, your head may be spinning but we all knew this was coming at some point. What is important is to keep your head up and strategize. If we do that then maybe, just maybe, we as marketers can ensure that this decline is the worst news we will hear, about our beloved social media.

*Why alright? Because these platforms have spent untold millions of dollars and man-hours cultivating their audiences through creating coveted content, the costs you incur are simply compensation for what they’ve already invested to lend you the use of their distribution channel.

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