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Nick Berry

Missed Opportunities: The Social Media Algorithm Struggle and How to Stay Seen

What having a distribution strategy means for your business

Something I see every day when I’m on social media is a business posting an event, a special, or something they need to get in the hands of their customers and prospects right away. But I don’t see it in my feed until 3 or 4 days later. And if it’s happening to me, I know it’s happening with everyone else. The social media algorithm is hurting your business.

And this isn’t just Facebook, but every social media platform has been pulling this. It’s just how their algorithms work. One of my favorite food trucks, I’ve done everything I can to make sure I see their content on facebook, followed them, liked them, and even favorited them. But I rarely see their posts until 3 or even worse 5 days later! Which means they’re missing out on my business, and even worse I’m not getting my tacos!

Action Step:

Evaluate the timeliness of your social media posts and consider utilizing a more direct and immediate distribution method, like email or SMS, to ensure your customers receive your content when it’s most relevant.

What is the difference between owned media and borrowed media, and can you provide examples of each?

Think of owned media or email lists like a piece of land you own, you can do pretty much anything you want right? Within some limits, the CAN-SPAM act is akin to code enforcement with the city or county. You can get away with a lot, but there’s still some basic rules you have to follow. The same can be said for your email and SMS lists. The rules are there for everyone’s benefit.

Borrowed media like social media is like renting a unit in a building. There’s still quite a bit you can do, but you’ve got a lot more restrictions in your lease. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tiktok want users to stay on the platform as long as possible. And if you try to take people off site all the time your reach is going to be limited. And that’s just one of the rules you have to follow to stay in their building.

Action Step:

Conduct an audit of your current media channels. For owned media like email and SMS, ensure compliance with regulations like CAN-SPAM, and for borrowed media like social media, review platform rules to optimize your presence within their constraints.

How can owned media like email and SMS lists benefit my business compared to borrowed media like social media platforms?

When you post on social media you are beholden to their algorithm and rules. And there are tons of rules you probably don’t even know about. The algorithms are constantly changing and updating. Something I don’t think a lot of people don’t realize is all those posts you’re throwing out on facebook, just to “stay present” aren’t getting much reach because the content you posted in the past got little engagement. If you’re looking for some content ideas that will get engagement, I wrote an article covering 5 social media content types you should be using.

Now with email and sms lists, if you want to send something as long as you’ve played by the basic rules of only sending communications to people who opt-in, make it easy to unsubscribe, and have done a little bit of technical stuff like setting up domain authentication with your email marketing platform. You can send out emails and texts as often as you want. Now there are a few caveats to that, like I tell people to only send emails and text messages not only when people are likely to open, click or reply. But also when your team is working! But the world is your oyster when it comes to sending emails.

Action Step:

Review your email and SMS list management strategies to ensure you’re adhering to opt-in rules and best practices for sending communications, with an aim to leverage these owned channels for direct customer engagement.

What are the risks associated with relying heavily on the social media algorithms for my business’s online presence?

We’ve all seen organic reach just absolutely tanking, every year it seems to get worse and worse. Last I heard, most pages only see 3-4% organic reach for the majority of their content. So for my smooth brain, let’s make the math easy. If you’ve got 100 followers and people who like your content. A maximum of 4 people are probably going to see that content in a timely manner.

I know so many agencies who’ve all but abandoned company business pages because of this. And don’t get me wrong, yes that really sucks. But I understand it! Would I abandon social media? No, having a consistent and effective presence on social media is important for not only growing your business, but also your hiring efforts. People want to see that a business is active on social media. But I would not rely on organic social media only to grow your agency.

Action Step:

Diversify your online presence to reduce reliance on social media platforms by enhancing your owned media efforts and ensuring consistent and active engagement across all channels.

How do I grow my email lists effectively without spending a bunch of money on ads?

Do you have customers and prospects? Ask them if you can add them to your newsletter list. It’s as simple as going into your CRM, and sending them an opt-in request email. Make a quick landing page just like mine. And send them a quick email like this.

“Hey {{first.name}},

We’re starting a newsletter to keep everyone up to date on what’s going on not just in the agency, but what’s going on in the community. It would be the world to me if you’d opt-in so we can send this to you every month.

You can subscribe here -> LINK

Best,

{{agency.owner}}

{{Agency.Name}}”

If you’re reading this in my email newsletter, I’ve already gone through how I use organic social media to grow my list. I haven’t spent a single dollar on paid ads to grow this. Copy and steal this method. I stole this by watching how other creators used organic social media to grow their lists.

That quote submission form? That should lead every single prospect into a follow-up or drip campaign. And at least every other drip or follow-up email should have a p.s. Asking them to subscribe to your newsletter!

Action Step:

Start a campaign to invite current customers and prospects to opt-in to your email newsletters, utilizing personalization and highlighting the value of staying informed about your business and community.

What strategies should I use to integrate my email and social media efforts to maximize my marketing impact?

The thing about an effective marketing strategy is that it’s made up of a bunch of tactics all tied together. There’s not a silver bullet that’s going to solve the problems of algorithms limiting your organic reach. But I can tell you what’s worked for me. I started with one platform, and stuck with it until I was consistent. I started with Twitter, because it’s where I know a lot of my core audience hangs out. Then after I was consistent on twitter for a few weeks, I expanded it to LinkedIn. Then I fell off the wagon for a few weeks because life happens. Then I brushed it off and got back at it, and recently I started posting on Facebook.

I have two goals for the social media content I post. First, get the attention of the people I want to consume my content. I do that through a mix of memes, funny posts, and then educational and business related content. Second goal, after I’ve got people engaging with my content, is to get them to sign up for my newsletter. Go take a look at my personal facebook for an example of this. 

Then once I’ve got them into my email list it’s up to me to do the rest and sell them something. I personally do that through long form written emails like this one. By getting to know me through my social media content, then educating them in the emails, they’re going to be more receptive to an offer.

Action Step:

Establish a clear and consistent content strategy on your chosen social media platforms aimed at engaging your audience and encouraging sign-ups to your email list.

Can you help me understand the ROI of investing in email marketing versus social media, and how do I measure it?

What’s the ROI of your mother? That’s my favorite snarky response when someone asks me what the ROI of marketing is. But it’s not one or the other, it’s both. You should be investing in both email and social media marketing, to have effective and sustainable content distribution.

But we do need to track that sort of thing. The ROI of social media is a tough nut to crack. With the concepts of dark social (where people share your content through private means), and even the limited data analytics around social media platforms, a lot of people default to likes, comments and shares. And those are all vanity metrics. And I think that really sucks for everyone involved.

So how do we track it? The best way I’ve found is to audit where you are today. How many people are following you on social media, what engagement numbers look like, and what sort of website traffic can you attribute from social media through tools like Google Analytics. Then looking at your lead volume, sales volume, and revenues. You might not be able to tie it directly to social media, but if you’ve got a period where you weren’t posting you can probably compare the two.

And you should do the same thing for your email marketing. Now I kind of view a few metrics like vanity metrics. Open rates are often misleading. I open every single email sent to my business email, and privacy settings on apple are skewing open rates by at least 20% if not higher. Click rates are often skewed by company anti-virus tools, so take those with a grain of salt. If someone is in your email list, you can do some spreadsheet or reporting magic to look for your email subscribers that become prospects and eventually customers. Those conversions are the most important metric to monitor. 

Action Step:

Set up a system for tracking and analyzing the performance of your social media and email marketing efforts, using tools like Google Analytics, to understand the impact and ROI of each channel.

You’ve seen the lay of the land: social media is a fickle friend. Yes, it’s got its perks, but it’s crowded, noisy, and you’re playing by someone else’s rules. On the flip side, your email and SMS lists? They’re your crowd, your stadium, your rules. You call the shots and you’ve got a direct line to your fans – no algorithm can block your shot there.

So what’s the takeaway? Don’t put all your eggs in the social media basket. Use it, but also build something you own. Grow that email list, send out those texts, make them personal, and watch as your audience becomes a community that actually sees what you’re putting down. And keep tracking, because what gets measured gets managed.

Social media is a handshake and a smile; it’s where you meet new people. Email and SMS, though, are where you invite them over for a dinner party and have real conversations. So go on, get out there and start some good conversations.

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