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Is Social Media & Search Marketing a Waste of Money in 2020?

Are Social Media & Search Marketing a Waste of Money in the 4th Quarter of 2020?

Like everything on the internet, Social Media & Search Engines can be a complete waste of time. On the other hand, I can also make a case that Social Media & Search Engines are great for business. We get this question on a daily basis from companies of all sizes. Everyone is looking for the “silver bullet” because it’s become much harder to stand out in the crowd. 

Think about it for a second. Facebook, Google and others have been telling businesses to create as much content as possible in order to gain visibility. But if every day more businesses create more content with a similar or even smaller number of users, then aren’t we just playing in a pool of saturated content? I’m not saying businesses should not have their basic profile listed on these platforms, all I’m saying is that it’s not as effective as it once was. Partly because of how much content is being added everyday. In most cases poorly researched and written content. The fact that I can write this blog post with no minimum standard for accuracy and usefulness exacerbates my point. Before I read anything these days I have to look up the author and decide whether it’s clickbait or fake news. In a way, I think this is good for the younger generations. So long as parents and teachers explain that the majority of what you find on the internet is garbage, this will force everyone to go back to a time when researching a topic meant you went to the library, checked out a book and actually read it. We all know we can’t trust Google Search results or any post you read on Facebook. 

Nevertheless, businesses need to grow and be present where their customers shop for their products and services. As Social Media and Search Marketing relates to your business, you first need to assess your target audience and your customers. Are they spending time on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Snap, Tik Tok and bunch of others to have fun, or to buy stuff? Take the time to ask them. How much time and money you should spend on Social Media and Search Marketing also depends on your industry, whether you’re B2B or B2C and whether you’re a brand large enough to deliver an amazing user experience on your website. All businesses know that Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple and other tech giants are coming to take over our businesses. Or at least they would like to control parts of the supply chain and customer journey so that we pay them to do business with our customers. 

I’ve been in the Digital Marketing space for over a decade. In that time I’ve managed thousands of campaigns for small businesses as well as Fortune 500 brands. I’ve used just about every strategy and system out there. From SEO (search engine optimization), Social Media and Email Marketing to Affiliate Marketing, Paid Search, Influencer Marketing and Mobile Marketing. All told, we’ve generated over 15 million leads for a lot of different companies. Feedback from our clients tell us the closing rates for those leads averaged 12%. That’s roughly 1.8 million sales transactions. We’ve worked with companies in industries like Insurance, Home Services, Automotive, Real Estate, Medical Groups, Law Firms and more. It’s hard to do the math because these products and services range in price from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don’t share these stats as bragging points. I share as a badge of honor. And also to say that I’ve seen the evolution and been a part of pretty much every strategy you can think of.

In that time, I’ve also had hundreds of employees. I certainly didn’t reach that level of success for our clients alone. I am truly thankful for all the great employees, contractors and vendors we worked with. Given the challenges we’re facing today, even with some fantastic partners in the industry, I still don’t believe we’ll have the same level of success using the strategies of the past. I believe we’re seeing a downward spiral for businesses that depend on growing their sales through Social Media and Search Marketing. The tech giants would love for us all to believe that we can trust their products and that they have our best interests in mind. The truth is, they’re publicly traded companies who need to make investors happy. So, no I don’t believe they care about the consumer or the businesses as much as they care about their bottom line. 

There are plenty of cases to illustrate that carelessness on a daily basis. As for businesses making ad buying decisions based on data provided by Google, Facebook and others, I say be very cautious and scrutinize every word they put out. They’re all losing users like crazy. Engagement is at an all-time low. Influencers are finding it hard to make money. And new users are not finding the platforms as valuable as they once were. I get that most people are obsessed with their smartphones. Marketers will try to sell you in the micro-moment and how much data they have on every user and how retargeting is going to get you all the traffic you need. But don’t forget that the number of people who are rejecting a society that is glued to the screens. Families are choosing to put away the smartphone for weekends. People are wary of tech companies spying on them through their microphone, camera and other apps on your smartphone, so they’re getting smart to turn them off or just not install certain apps. There’s another notion that voice-search is the future. Well, that may be true for consumers who trust their most personal data like the conversations in their home with Google, Amazon and the likes. But I think this will die down soon much like wearables and IOT. 

As a Marketing Consultancy, we’ve chosen to become more innovative and choose the Marketing channels we spend our clients’ money on more wisely. Our new mission is to become Digital Marketing Advocates for our clients. If it does not make sense to spend a single dollar or minute of time on a particular Marketing channel like Google or Facebook, then we’re prepared to tell our client that it’s not in their best interest to do that. It’s definitely been challenging to educate businesses on the truth of where Digital Marketing is at in 2020. What we know to be true is that we care about our customers and we want them to grow their business. 

Our focus is on finding innovative ways to help our customers grow their businesses. First, we spend a lot more time upfront on auditing all the Marketing and Sales efforts. Customer Experience is another area we’re paying a lot of attention to with our clients. Our team will do a series of sessions to understand your Customer’s Journey and how that aligns through the Marketing, Sales and Customer Experience pipeline. The good news is you still have your website and good ol’ email marketing. So long as you have a quality product or service and you’re willing to invest in creating valuable content for your target audience, we can help you find them where they are. One thing is for sure for most businesses — the future growth of their business will not all come from just Social Media and Search Marketing. Work on creating a strong brand, take care of your customers and get their feedback.  Wrap up your 2020 by creating long-lasting strategies that you’ll carry into the new year.