2012 is the year that we can point to where the vast majority of companies, brands, and bloggers/pundits finally committed themselves to participating in social media in a meaningful way:
If you’re lucky, you are sitting back and watching your fan/follower count roll up like the dollar sale window at your local gas pump. Or you are flooded with alerts noting that your last tweet was once again, favorite or retweeted.
Regardless of whether or not you are enjoying the fruits of your labor, please note that you could be doing better – a LOT better.
How can we make this assertion?
Well, it is important to remember that we are in the infancy stages of digital and social media development.
To better understand the opportunity, let’s take a look at the development path of another technological transformation, the automobile. The first American automobile that achieved scale was the Ford Model T, which was introduced in 1908 and was powered by a four-cylinder engine that developed 20-22 hp and delivered 13-21 mpg. With a top speed of just 42 miles per hour, it was not even able to put up a zero to 60 time, and it was not until 1928 that its replacement model, the Ford Model A, was able to post a zero to 60 time of 32 seconds.
Compare that to the performance of today’s most popular car, the Toyota Camry, whose four-cylinder engine delivers 178 hp, 25-35 mpg, and a zero to 60 time of 8.7 seconds.
How was that dramatic improvement possible?
Despite their power and performance advantages over the horse, the internal combustion engine is not particularly efficient – only 25-30% of the energy created by burning gasoline is directed towards driving the car forward, the remaining 70% was primarily released into the atmosphere as heat. As a result, the guiding principles for engine refinement over the last one hundred years has been to increase power and lower fuel consumption, and as you can see, there is still plenty of room for further efficiency and efficacy gains.
Now, what does this have to do with social media?
Increase Efficiency in your Digital Marketing Efforts
Although we live in the spanking brand new “Digital Age”, all of our platforms and technologies are still in their infancy, and their relative efficiency and effectiveness represent areas with the most potential for improvement.
Facebook themselves state that only 16% of a brand’s fans see any given post, and other third party research suggests that as a brand’s follower base gets larger, performance becomes even poorer – in some cases, brands with fanbases of 1,000,000+ find only 2.5% of them will see a given post.
The reasons for this inefficiency are simple: due to the chronological nature of social media, posts have a relatively short shelf-life – for Facebook, it is about 3.1 hours, and for Twitter, it is about 2.9 hours. In other words, if a fan or follower does not see your post within the first three hours after you post, they are not likely to see it, ever.
Which brings us to a more modern interpretation of the age-old philosophical question, “if a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound”? Well, for our purposes, “in the social media forest, the answer is NO”. If no one sees the post, then it did not make a noise.
This is a serious issue, as it means that 80-90% of the folks that actually want to, and opted in, to see your content, never actually even see it. And forget about the casual viewer.
Now, there are ways to address this issue through technology.
Syndicate Your Social Media and Content for a Better Return on Investment
There are a number of platforms that allow brands or bloggers to schedule release times for tweets and posts, ensuring that the content is posted at the optimal time for mass viewing. Also, there are a number of technologies that allow for optimal reposting of key content, which gives a different part of your fan/follower base the opportunity to see the content.
These are tactics and technologies that all brands and bloggers should consider, and they have been shown to increase views and shares in a meaningful manner.
However, there are other new technologies being made available for social media participants that could prove even more efficient and effective.
Use of syndication widgets, where social media content is automatically reposted to other locations, such as on a website or within other social media platforms, is a key tactic to increase the reach and sharing of the content you have already produced. Often times they are free, and therefore extremely low risk – what do you have to lose against the opportunity to have more people interact with your content?
Even more exciting is the launch of new, social media visualization and syndication platforms that automatically take your content and make it easier for viewers to comprehend, and share. One of the more recent platforms to make its mark is our Postano platform.
Through its aggregation, visualization and syndication technologies, users who have embedded it on their websites have seen time on site increase by a factor of 2-3X, and shares of their social media content increase by an order of 5-7X. If more people see and engage with your social media content, and then share it with their online networks, you’ll be well on your way towards creating more influence, and more impact from your existing social media investments. And platforms like Postano can be as inexpensive as $10 per month for a stripped down version that delivers all the performance and benefits listed above.
So in summary – congratulations on committing to social media and digital content!
But don’t stop there, the opportunities to work against the inherent inefficiencies of the system mean that there is plenty of room to create a competitive advantage. Make sure that you investigate and explore utilizing free or inexpensive technologies that automatically help you make more friends, and influence more people.