As a social media marketer – be it a community manager, content creator or general digital marketer – your day-to-day work can feel chaotic, even when you’re doing everything right. Our industry has matured, but even with time, growth has continued, and our strategies need to evolve to keep up.
Before we even touch on current social media pros and cons, let’s look at the specific top challenges in 2017 that we face as SMMs.
1. The continuing decline of organic reach
On Facebook and YouTube, the number of monthly users is over one billion, while Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are in the hundreds of millions. Each day, a staggering amount of content is produced by each of these channels. To keep users on the channel and engaged, social channels use algorithms to weed out junk, and only display the content that’s the most relevant and interesting to the user.
While consumers welcome a curated feed, the algorithm can be frustrating for marketers. Over the last couple of years, we’ve all watched our reach drop significantly, despite healthy, growing audiences.
In the early days of social media, when someone followed your page or account, they would see your posts —but this has changed. Because of the amount of traffic on social channels, your posts can be suppressed, deprioritized, or simply fail to gain traction during a test push by the channel.
How do you work with this? Right now, social channels care about keeping users on-channel and feeding them high quality, relevant content. It seems that Facebook and Twitter favor marketers who post less often, and post high-quality content while incorporating live video.
Video is a priority, because a longer video will keep eyes on a channel, and live video offers an up-to-date view of the world. A smaller amount of posts with greater engagement and a mix of video will drive your reach. Instagram Stories is particularly potent here.
And don’t give up on organic yet – it can be an extremely useful tool in optimizing your paid strategy.
2. Creating an effective cross-channel strategy
If you’re working hard to grow your organic reach, you’re already optimizing your content by channel. Translating your content across many channels and making it work within the channel is a great skill for an SMM.
Multichannel strategies can be challenging because each channel has its own format and tone that dictates how your content should fit. Additionally, your target audience has their own preferences and habits, and will often consult different channels while getting to know your company.
Having each of these channels work together in synergy creates a cohesive brand impression in response to your audience’s social behavior.
Creating an effective cross-channel strategy involves an in-depth knowledge of the characteristics of each channel, and good organization.
3. Time management
No matter how hard you work at social media, there’s always more that wants your attention. Organizing the week based on what can be shared and what needs individual attention has always been the cleanest way I know to get things accomplished.
For example, if I list my top three responsibilities in the same way I report them across the company each week, they could be:
- Content development and optimization
- Audience growth
I block out time on my calendar for engagement, usually first thing in the morning, and leave time open after lunch for collaboration and research. I’ll work on audience growth in a few tasks based on analytics. Since content and the discussions around content take up such the hugest chunk of my time, I share this with the team in a content calendar.
Mapping out a content calendar gives everyone centralized access, lets us collaborate, and then allows us to get more done independently. Without the centralization, I find myself answering questions about assets and upcoming posts more than is actually productive.
As social media marketers, I think it’s important to let technology work for us to get the most out of our workdays and avoid rabbit holes. I’d say that in 2017 and beyond, you simply can’t do this job without a digital content calendar.
4. Data management
Collecting data from social media listening, or learning more about your audience, or measuring your brand reputation all require sifting through social data. The information that you gather can feed your business, and inform your work as a social media marketer.
The challenges of data management that we face are in the amount of data available, as well as the dissemination of information to the right people within your business. When data management is done well, it can uncover new leads, conversations about your product, industry trends, and influencers. It can also help you build profiles for your audience and gather information across platforms to help you deliver personalized material.
Data management has grown from the tedious, manual process it used to be. If you can use a centralized, unified platform, you’ll be able to stream the barrage of information into useful blocks of data, and reveal opportunities you may have otherwise missed. Connecting your social media management tool with other data sources such as your CRM will help you collate and share key customer insights and interaction history.
Marketers in 2017 and beyond are advised to consider how their marketing technology stacks interplay.The Walker Sands State of Marketing Technology 2017 report states that around half of marketers are now using integrated martech stacks. The figure increases with larger companies (54% vs 44% of companies with less than 100 employees).
A seamless exchange of data within companies will be a key competitive advantage in 2017 and beyond.
5. Proving ROI
This is the eternal challenge of social media managers in particular. How do you prove the value of what you do to the c-suite? Vanity metrics alone simply don’t cut it.
Reporting on performance shows the effectiveness of your work, and keeps you on track week after week.
By attaching a goal to your social media campaign, showing the investment, and then showing how the performance affected your bottom line, you clearly outline the return on investment in social media marketing.
The challenge to social marketers can be defining your company’s goals where you want to measure ROI, or determining which specific customer behavior contributed to a conversion. Sometimes we think of ROI as “fuzzy” when it doesn’t link directly to revenue, but instead, increases brand awareness.
While your company’s social strategy and goals may be unique to your business, evaluating the impact of your work will help determine what resources your social media marketing requires and will help to strengthen your performance.
If you are interested in performance metrics, check out our breakdown of Marketing KPIs: Measuring Metrics That Matter.
Old and new challenges heading into 2018
For social media marketers, some challenges will always remain the same. I’m afraid your days won’t be getting any less frantic in the near future. But we’re in an exciting space where we can be spoilt for solutions for many of our everyday challenges. You just need to keep the faith and your eyes open.
For more on social media challenges, read up on the dos and don’ts of managing your social channels.