What Social Media Is Media Means For Your 2017 Marketing

Social Media Becomes Full Fledged Media

Social media is mediaSocial media is media.

It became full-fledged media in 2016.

Social media is no longer a nimble, low cost David marketing option against pricier established media Goliaths.

Don’t look surprised!

Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign proved social media is media.

Trump’s campaign cost effectively used social media. Most notably, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. (Supplemented by his successful television, radio and print newsjacking.) Unlike other election campaign advertising, his social media investment wasn’t tracked.

But this article isn’t about Trump. 

It’s about how you as a marketer need to approach social media in 2017 to succeed and drive profitable sales.

You can’t think about social media as a place to engage with prospects or distribute your content.

You need a social media strategy that’s integrated into your business and marketing plans.

Social media is media means for your 2017 marketingSocial media is media

3 Factors explain why social media became media in 2016


1. People continue to spend time on social media

On average, people spend just under 2 hours per day on social media according to Global Web Indexa_third_of_online_time_spent_on_social_media

Social media is both an entry point and destination for participants. They go directly via an app, a URL, or an email. Social media entities don’t need to advertise or promote to build their audience. 

Underestimate the power of communications links at your peril. Social media platforms use email to encourage members to return.  

Social media platforms tap into their audience’s FOMO (aka: Fear of missing out) combined with the power of connections and curated stories to drive repeat visits.

Social media networks deliver information using a variety of content formats. Participants can use the device of choice. This enables them to time-shift and fill otherwise media-free time. 

Unlike traditional media entities, social media supports and provides community by encouraging and facilitating communications between weak connections.

Expect Facebook to improve its workplace product to capture a greater share of user attention. It’s also a competitive move against Slack.

2. More people get news from social media than other resources

News is no longer appointment media consumption. Drive-time radio is the exception; it’s retained its listenership unlike newspapers and television news shows.

60% of US based adults get news from social media according to Pew Research

Pew Internet Chart - Social Media Delivers news

Social Media Delivers The News In The US – Chart

Look closer to see how the social media networks rank for news distribution.

Social media is media

Social Media Platforms Used To Get News

Reddit is the top news social media source! This is surprising since Reddit is the eighth largest social media platform. It’s got its own language and community making it less accessible for outsiders.

This has important implications for other news aggregators like Hacker News and Inbound.org. They have the ability to gain traction as second-tier social media competitors. This is particularly relevant as the need to amplify content distribution increases.

Facebook is the second largest social media news source.

Twitter ranks third. Twitter is good for breaking news. Its content is completely unvetted and unfiltered.

On a personal note, I turned to Twitter for immediate news in September when an explosion occurred near my apartment quickly followed by sirens. Twitter yielded immediate, personal but incomplete information. By contrast, the local news took time to catch up relying on social media streams for images.

Social media entities don’t pay for content rights the way that traditional media does. Instead, they tap into user-generated content from their audience.

With the issue of election fake news, there’s increased demand for old-fashioned fact-checked content. This has an impact on both Facebook and Google (for it’s search results).

Despite Zuckerberg’s statements, editorial guidance by social media entities will be required to maintain advertising revenue in 2017. Major advertisers want to control the editorial context of their ads. When at The Economist, I pulled a digital campaign when my ads were adjacent to adult content.

3. Social media garners the majority of ad dollars

Social media is no longer a free media ghetto for startups and solopreneurs.

Facebook is positioned to be WPP’s second largest media supplier in 2017 (after Google). Ask Sir Martin Sorrell. That’s big brand, big ad spend nirvana.

Together Facebook and Google dominate 75-85% of the digital media advertising market. The variation depends on the research source.

Jason Kint concisely tweeted this point in July 2016 and updated it in December 2016. He compared IAB and PwC data.

Translation: The remaining digital media landscape accounts for 25% or less of digital ad spend.

Ad blocking remains an on-going digital media challenge, Facebook implemented a work-around for their desktop ad delivery. This increased ad results in 3Q2016. Expect Facebook to extend this technology to mobile platforms. (Google also has ad-blocking work-around through deals with ad blockers.)

Social media advertising growth brings related advertising measurability issues. Specifically in terms of video ads that play as users slide through their newsfeed. Video ads get tracked without user focus. Expect Facebook to adjust their algorithms to retain advertisers.

Facebook will place ads during videos over one minute in duration to increase revenues. No surprise here—It’s the television model.

Millennials only watch YouTube ads as long as needed to be able to view the video that’s blocked based on research surfaced by eMarketer. Expect YouTube and other social media networks to also place ads mid-view and/or as text overlays.

Social Media Is Media

Millennial Viewing Of YouTube Ads – Chart

From a retailer-perspective, social media platforms including Facebook will need to improve their direct-to-purchase advertising and related functionality. Or lose advertising to other options.

What social media is media means for marketers

You need a social media strategy. This strategy must be integrated into your marketing and business plans.

Interestingly, social media research doesn’t focus on this key business element. Most other marketing research does, especially content marketing. (BTW, this is the core element of Content Marketing Institute-MarketingProfs’s research.)

Your social media strategy must include these 5 core elements:

1. Goals: This is your social media mission. It answers the question:

  • How does social media help your business to achieve your business objectives, namely profitable sales?

2. Audience: Encompasses your prospects and customers, employees and promoters (influencers and other social media followers).

  • Who are you trying to reach on social media?
  • Why do they care about connecting with or following you?
  • What information do they need?
  • Where do they spend time on social media?
  • When do they need or want to connect or get your information?

Marketers need the microdata social media platforms collect to better refine their understanding of their audience. It’s critical for delivering contextually relevant content and promotions.

3. Content: Involves the information you share and curate that your target audience wants.

4. Distribution: Consists of organic and paid content and communications to develop audience relationships, amplifying your content reach and leveraging the power of influencers and thought leaders.

5. Metrics: Tracks the measurable results towards achieving your business objectives. This breaks down into smaller actions.


The social media is media bottom line for marketers

Like it or not, as a marketer, you need social media.

Further, you have to be smart about your social media use. You can’t just show up when the spirit moves you or your boss is checking on results.

Ensure your 2017 marketing succeeds. Follow these 3 tactics:

  1. Deliver contextually relevant messages based on microdata from social media and elsewhere. Social media entities have a boatload of user data. If they sold it directly, their participants would rebel. (BTW—I forecast this back in 2012.)
  2. Be present on social media platforms that are core for your business. Buffer’s 2016 State of Social Media research showed that 93% of small businesses paid for social media ads. If small businesses and solopreneurs with extremely limited budgets do this, so should you.
  3. Develop your owned media. This means a blog and an email list at the minimum. In light of the increased strength of social media entities, it’s critical to own your media and your audience. As history has shown, social media networks can change their algorithms without notice.

Go on—plan your 2017 social media usage.

Your business depends on it—especially now that social media is media!

BTW, if you want to improve your social media results, please join me at Social Media Marketing World 2017.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/search/phone?photo=SpVHcbuKi6E CC0

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