Spoiler Alert Organic Reach is Dead.
Are you someone trying to grow a social media following for your freelance gigs with the goal of driving up engagement and getting more customers or clients as a freelancer or a business? This piece is dedicated to you. Read this till the end because I’ll be exploring a marketing secret, well not so much of a secret but a fact so easily overlooked by people who are not Marketers.
Doing a digital marketing internship was eye-opening in many ways, one of the biggest lessons was in understanding the evolution of social media networking platforms and who benefits from them.
” Social media platforms like Twitter,Instagram,Twitch, YouTube or TikTok provide a fair opportunity to its users to self publish content without any costs or set up fees, grow their audience and build a following for their work and get the attention of their users. “
That sounds like a fair statement until you notice the catch.
If you’re doing social media with a long-term vision of creating valuable content for your audience, doing what you do with consistency, and are hoping to grow with social media alone, there is something you have missed.
The Difference between Followers and Leads
A Lead is the contact information specifically the name and E-mail Id of someone who is interested in your business. contact information is a powerful tool that you can leverage to turn leads (people who are interested in your business) into paying customers by building marketing funnels
The Users of social media are the people who have signed up in order to use a platform. They are the ‘Leads’ of the social media company.
The problem with this is that when you build a following, the followers are not your users. They are not your leads, they happen to stumble upon you, a game dictated by algorithms and tracking user activity. But you do not get to control their flow or activity. Your followers might never end up purchasing from you, definitely not all of them yet most of us depend on our social media ‘following’ for engagement. We end up maxing out our effort by posting a continuous stream of content over time without generating a proportionate amount of revenue compared to our efforts. Here is an article explaining why you only need a1000 true fans for your personal brand.
On the other side, social media companies benefit from user-generated content. They do not post anything by themselves or play the game of algorithms that they built. User-generated content helps, in turn, generating more users for their platform. Your followers are the users of the social media platform you use, including yourself. Once the user base grows to a significant amount and there are enough eyeballs on a platform, The social media company sells its user’s attention to advertisers.
The Social Media Cycle
Facebook was found in 2004 and went public in the year 2006
As more businesses started using Facebook, The reach of every business page had Declined. when Creators> Users, the reach businesses have declines
Facebook now charges advertisers to reach their own followers with a new social media the first creators have an early movers advantage. But as popularity sores, so do the content creators.
The Biggest Problem with Social Media is in the long term, creators and businesses posting on it will increase and users will more or less remain fixed. the more popular a social network becomes, the more rapidly the user base declines (but on the other end the number of content creators Increases). Since all of the platform’s users only spend a certain daily average time on these Networks the reach you get as a Creator Declines. It becomes a competition for users’ attention.
Every Social Network has a life cycle
- When the Creators> Users
- When Creators=Users
- Creators> Users
When Creators exceed the user base of a Platform.The Social Network eventually experiences a Decline,no matter how Hot or “In” it becomes.This is why Facebook had to acquire Instagram and WhatsApp since it was experiencing an astounding drop in users.With Instagram and WhatsApp they bought back the attention of their users
“As of the end of 2020, organic reach is still on the decline. The average reach for an organic Facebook post is down to 5.2%. (For the record, at the end of 2019 it was 5.5%, and the year before that it was 7.7%). Meanwhile, the average engagement rate in 2020 for an organic Facebook post was 0.25%”
The Algorithms always dictate the game. It Filters Pages that end up in your Feed that you have the most engagement with. As Creator on Social media platforms, you do not get complete control of your audience. The Followers are the Users of the Social Network who happen to discover you and do not enter the Platform looking FOR You. Hence they are not your Primary Users
Doing Social Media is like building a little nest on a Big Tree that has a lot of other nests. (Consider the nest as a Page)The existence of the nest is dependent on the tree and is Influenced by the activity of other nests, as the number of nests increases, The Tree becomes crowded, some have built large nests, some small, but this will impact the number of birds that are attracted to each nest. If you have a small nest on a crowded Tree, you have to really hustle to get any birds
If the Social Media Shuts Down or Faces Controversy like Instagram and Facebook recently did,( where they had a deadline to comply with the government’s notice). As Tik Tok went away in India so did the Influencers and their followers, only if the creators had their own platform they could have stood a chance to retrieve their “followers”. But it is hard to get back your follower base as a network dies, since your Followers were never your ” Users “
This Fact alone is enough to explain why you should have your own networking platform. Why not own the Tree instead of building a nest and find the freedom you want? This tree is your own social platform where you have full control over the users, you can track the user base and activity and control the flow of traffic. This platform is your website
Your Website is your Asset, it’s your property on the web. You can build your content and your audience, your Primary Users on your website. Your Website is like owning your own land, where you get to build and nurture an audience, a community around your work, and the content that you post online. In the Long term, one can build a website with a massive amount of organic reach. The main difference between Social Media and your website is this –
a. getting to build your Primary users with your website vs a following on Social Media. Dependability. Your website and its users can be fully controlled by you, nobody can ever steal or take away your content.
You can always reach out to your users with an email list. What happens when you sign up for a social media account? You enter your name and e-mail address. When a platform has your email address, you have become a user. An email list becomes an effective lead generation tool to get leads started into your funnel which starts at content and ends at payment.
With rising social media, creators are forced to put more content out there to stay up in the game, to compete for the borrowed users of a foreign social networking space. With more content and divided attention spans, these social platforms can sell user attention to advertisers. Attention becomes Assets, Users turn into Leads and Instagram becomes a competition.
Advertisers pay social media companies to reach a large portion of their user base. If a user ends up clicking on an Ad and signing up for a newsletter or signing up to continue exploring a website, the user of the social media company now becomes a lead of the Advertiser. Unfortunately, The highest paying Advertisers end up stealing the most number of users from a platform.
Here is a Real Example-
As per a study report from Pathmatics. The top companies with the highest advertising budgets for Q2 of 2020, with Disney taking the topmost spot by having spent $309million on Instagram advertising, have reached a large chunk of Instagram users. Followed by P&G at $173 million and Amazon spending $141million at number three.
Read the full Report at : https://www.marketingcharts.com/digital/social-media-114072
Advertisers are the people who are competing for users of these social media platforms.In order for users to stay on a platform, they need content,which is generated by their own users who are competing for followers, ie users of the platform, whom advertisers steal anyway. Hence Platforms like Instagram let their users generate free content so that by keeping users engaged via content creators, they can sell your attention to advertisers.
Your Followers are not your Leads and that is the biggest disadvantage, It’s good to get known but you can never monetize your audience completely or control the their activity, well unless,
Unless you build your own Platform.
A Platform where the visitors become your users. The Users become your Leads and leads become customers at the end of a Marketing Funnel in place. Such a platform is called your Website
Building your own Platform
With a domain name and a hosting, you can build your own platform, just like Instagram. Your own website that allows to track and control user behavior, get their contact details (Leads), and making them a part of your Marketing Funnel until they become paying customers or opt out of your funnel by unsubscribing.
(Read more on the CATT Marketing Funnel : https://vsvdesign.studio/marketing-for-designers-why-you-should-care/
Click Here to Read more on Marketing Fundamentals
With a website you can potentially monetize on every visitor , you can advertise on social media by driving traffic to your website and turn visitors into leads, drive engagement and conversations around your work/products on your website thereby increasing the average time a user spends on your website.And guess what? You can have complete control over the web traffic you’re getting and easily track detailed analytics.A website will not only help you get control of the visitors but it is a good place to build your personal brand. If you build a good amount of visitors , you can leave the social media algorithm game for good
A real audience is an e-mail list,the ones who are really interested in what you do will sign up to hearing from you.E mail marketing is like starting a warm conversation to eventually turn a certain percentage of your audience list into paying customers by adding value through e-mail messaging and content creation,which gives you an opportunity to build trust or establish authority in your niche. (Refer to the CATT Funnel)
Social media alone can be a tough game to play without paid advertising, it is difficult to reach your target demographic or ‘ideal customers’.Moreover social media algorithms are subject to changes and are dictated by numbers alone.
But most importantly building your own platform like a website allows you to take full control of your audience (your users) and gives you an opportunity to monetize on the right audience. Getting the right kind of targeting is crucial for any business trying to establish a brand.Be it a personal brand or a Business.