The Real Reason Why Social Media Marketing Will Cost More in 2019
THE MYTH OF ‘FREE’ SOCIAL MEDIA
If you’re a small business owner contemplating your next move in the changing social media landscape, remember this: the illusion that social media marketing is “free” is just that…an illusion. Using social media networks may be low or no cost, but what your company shares on them is as valuable as traditional advertising. As a result, real social media marketing takes time to produce content that can stand out in an already over-saturated market.
From the initial post idea to concept, execution, creative work, hashtag research, Instagram Story strategy, photo sourcing and numerous rounds of edits, a social media post is never just a simple “post.” A post with no meaning behind it is just a photo and nothing more. Your business deserves more.
WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS A LARGER SOCIAL MEDIA BUDGET IN 2019
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you are paying more for better creative, you are buying a more polished final product that will spread further in the digital ecosystem. Larger social media budgets help your social media marketing agency achieve the following:
1) Produce better creative.
2) Increase the visibility of the creative to a larger, targeted audience.
This is critical to fighting any new algorithm changes, such as the one that Facebook released earlier this year. You will be equipped with an arsenal of compelling content and media budgets to boost the content.
THE SOCIAL MEDIA ALGORITHM DEBATE
Every time there is an algorithm change in the major social media networks, including Facebook or Instagram, debate ensues between digital marketing experts. Some marketers believe that if agencies are creating great content all along, they will be immune to algorithm changes. Other marketers believe that with algorithm changes comes increased budgetary requirements for ad spend to have more visibility of your content. While creating great content will certainly help immunity, you can only fight an algorithm change so hard if you have limited-to-no resource allocation on ad spend for these platforms.
So, is it really about who is right in this debate, or is the larger issue how to define what great content means in the evolution of social media marketing. For example, a static photo post could have been considered great five years ago, whereas today, a video or GIF is much more compelling. In 2019, you need discretionary dollars to create what is considered great as content consumption needs change.
WHAT GREAT MARKETING CONTENT LOOKS LIKE TODAY VS. 5 YEARS AGO
In the old days of traditional advertising, companies spent weeks on one piece of creative that went into a magazine, newspaper or billboard. But then social media became the new magazine or the new billboard. However, with the advent of social media platforms, creative typically seen in print outlets is is expected to be produced daily and tenfold. In addition, videos were on the rise and social media platforms changed how viewers would see things and when.
Social media marketing experts tell people to just “create better content” by posting more videos daily, doing Facebook ads daily and creating more graphic content. This comes with an incremental price tag that continues to increase when many small business owners aren’t even sold on the ROI of social media to begin with. It is important to understand the cost associated with all of these recommendations for the labor involved to produce this level of content.
WHERE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING AGENCY RETAINER DOLLARS GO
Producing this level of content requires more labor and a diverse skill set that includes graphic design, copywriting, photography, video production, branding and so much more. However, not every social media marketer is going to be a specialist in each of these areas. Therefore, social media marketing agencies now have to bring on specialists to produce this type of content. Rising labor costs from the agency side have to remain in line with the fees to produce the creative required for social media.
The disconnect is that many small business owners believe a social media marketing specialist should possess all of these skills if they are hiring them. They do not want to pay a separate fee for the other services or specialists. This does a great disservice to photographers, videographers, writers, and graphic designers. All business owners need to understand that just because you or your social media marketing specialist own an iPhone, it does not mean you or they are a great photographer. The unrealistic expectation that you should be able to replace an entire industry to keep up with content output demands is hurting everyone across the board.
Using the same tool does not mean you have the same craft. You hire a photographer for their vision, intricate knowledge of lighting and ability to shoot something you may not see. You hire a social media marketer to put all of this together and build a brand for your business. When you believe that a social media professional should be able to be a photographer and a marketer, you are hurting your business. A social media marketer is skilled at taking all of these assets and creating a beautiful Instagram grid. Not all, however, are skilled at taking photos or having the same artistic vision a photographer has. Similarly, a great copywriter may produce excellent copy for Facebook posts, but may struggle with producing a visually appealing Instagram theme. But it’s all social media, right?
In addition to bringing on specialists to create social media content for each platform, there is also a great deal of manual labor that goes into the tactical side of social media. You may be wondering where all of your social media dollars go on a monthly basis to produce this content. At RMG, your social media manager does the following for you on a day-to-day- basis:
• Strategic Social Media Consulting
• Post Ideation/ Brainstorming
• Content Calendar Approval
• Content Edit Rounds
• Further Client Approval Edit
• Hashtag Research
• Tagging of posts
• Photo/ Video shoots to produce assets
• Grid Layout of content
• Live Feed Story Creation (separate content from feed content)
• Boosting Posts
• Creation of FB Events
• Creation of branded cover photos/ events/ graphics
• Responding to DM’s/ Comments/ Inquiries on behalf of the brand
• Favoriting comments
Many small business owners already think that paying for social media marketing is too expensive. On the other hand, many agency owners think that their services are way underpriced for what they are delivering. Essentially, two different ideas of what constitutes value for money in the social media landscape is the cause of the friction. As a business owner, you want your budget to stay the same, but the truth is that to compete in new social media ecosystem and stay ahead of algorithm changes, you need to increase your social media marketing budget. If a social media agency owner is to deliver the type of content that is needed for a business to stay relevant, they will most likely need to request a larger retainer.
WHY THE TRADITIONAL SOCIAL MEDIA AGENCY MODEL IS BROKEN FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
The traditional social media agency model for small business owners is simply broken. Expectations on content output continue to increase, while fees stay the same. But the changes were so gradual, it was hard to stop the slide. This meant that costs for social media marketing subscriptions, software and talent all continued to rise, while retainers did not. What is needed to make an impact on social media and what people are generally prepared to pay for that, is incongruent with market rates for these services.
Social Media Marketing agencies that primarily work with small businesses will struggle to deliver real results without raising retainer costs to allocate for media buying and increased content production. On the other hand, NYC Social Media Marketing agencies that are given budgets for the creative required to compete will rise to the top.
HOW TO FIGHT THE ALGORITHM CHANGES WITHOUT INCREASING SOCIAL MEDIA SPEND
So where does this leave small businesses, and social media marketing companies for small businesses? If you can’t pay increased fees to produce the creative necessary to compete on social media platforms, spend more time focused on long-form content or other outlets where you will see greater rewards on a limited budget. Those who produce great content will win in this social media economy. However, it would be negligent to say that content alone is enough. You do need to allocate resources for digital advertising if you want the content to be seen by a larger audience.
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS ARE RENTED SPACE
At some point in the near future, social media platforms may charge companies to use their platforms. It is important to remember that social media platforms are merely rented space. Think about it this way- it is better to own than to rent property. The same is true for social media- invest the time in creating content that you “own” and if you get kicked out as a tenant of a specific social media platform (Facebook starts charging users), you can take your content and move it to another platform (Twitter) without feeling like your investment went down the drain. Diversify your social media assets so you are not putting all of your content into one network that may change at any moment due to algorithm changes, and always save a copy of your content in case the platform decides to remove your account or block your content.
WHAT YOU WILL GET OUT OF AN INCREASED SOCIAL MEDIA SPEND
When you invest in better content marketing for social media, you are getting so much more than a good post. You are getting content that can be reused and disseminated in so many different ways. For example, let’s say that you are a New York City physician who is investing in a social media content strategy, the content could be repurposed for:
• Imagery in an upcoming PowerPoint presentation at a healthcare conference
• Patient Collateral
• Blog Post Imagery
• Social Media Posts across several platforms
The trick is to learn how to leverage one piece of content in different platforms beyond just using it as a simple post to get the most out of it. There should be a plan for creating/producing the content and a secondary plan for the promotion and dissemination of the content so that it can reach your entire patient base in a way that builds your practice.
THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
It is critical that small business owners begin to understand why they have to pay more for a similar level of social engagement as they received before. Similarly, it is also important to understand the bind that agencies are in when business owners decide not to increase budgets for social media marketing services. If a social media agency carries on without a proper budget for boosting posts and producing the required creative, a limited number of people will be viewing the content, and the ROI may be limited.
If you are planning on hiring a social media marketing agency in 2019, equip them with the proper resources to create the necessary content for your business to compete in a saturated digital ecosystem. This will benefit your business and you will see stronger results, better creative and a more substantial long-term ROI.