“Is Social Media Dead?”

The headlines say it is . . . but they say a lot of things that aren’t precisely true.
Like every other advertising medium, social media is evolving. Here are three things you need to know if you’re using social media to sell aviation products or services in 2022 and beyond:

– Pay to Play
– Zero Click
– Policy Changes.

John and I discuss how these things have changed for good or bad, and share some strategies for how to be successful be adapting to new realities.

[theme song]

Paula Williams: Hey, welcome to this week’s episode. I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: I’m John Williams.

Paula: And we are ABCI, and ABCI’s Mission is…

John: To help you folks out there in the aviation world keep selling your products and services.

Paula: Absolutely. So one of the headlines that you see in magazines fairly frequently, nowadays is social media is dead or Google is dead, or Facebook is dead, or this is dead, or that is dead, you know.

John: Yeah. You mean, it’s not?

Paula: reminds me of that scene in The Mummy, where the guy is making fun of the curse of the Mummy or whatever. “This is cursed! That is cursed! Everything is cursed!” So yeah, everything is dead. If you listen to the media, nowadays and that is not necessarily the case, but it certainly is changing in ways that we probably want to pay some attention to.

John: True.

Paula: Okay, cool. So 3 things that I wanted to talk about today. One is the concept of Pay to Play. Two is Zero-Click content. And 3 is, is it still worth it?

John: Okay.

Paula: Okay, so the first one is Pay-to-Play. This is a thing, right? It used to be that everybody was saying that organic is better and you know that is not just in the grocery store, organic fruits and vegetables are better for you. Organic search results are more authentic, organic social media reach is better, and you know it’s more authentic. All of these things are great and that was true up until about the last year but the deck is stacked against us now as marketers organic is not working as well as it had been. Because the social channels have been refining their algorithms for a bunch of years to figure out how to maximize their revenue, and they have figured out that they’ve been giving away too many free jelly beans.

John: That’s interesting.

Paula: Yeah. So what that does for us as marketers is it means that we do need to sponsor advertising and we do need to pay to be seen more often because you know, a lot of our clients who have had pretty good quality, organic results over the last few years have seen them stagnate a little bit in recent years until they start boosting a few of them. Once they start boosting or sponsoring ads then their results become better than they were before.

John: This is her technical nerdy side showings because she looks at his draft and charts and does the analysis once you not doing this.

Paula: Right, exactly. So, we have a lot of data, from a lot of clients over a lot of years. It was doing great for several years and then in about 2000, right about when the recession hit and then right about when the pandemic hit. And then since there’s been the recovery from that the social media networks have almost to a one have become a place where organic doesn’t work as well and there are a few exceptions like Reddit, where organic is about the only game in town there. You can’t sponsor ads on Reddit and you can do well on Reddit, but you have to have a very unique strategy to make that work.

So coming back to it, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, all of those you’re seeing a lot more paid content on them and there’s a good reason for that. It’s not necessarily bad for marketers because there’s a lot less trash out there…[crosstalk]

John: Because they don’t want to pay for it.

Paula: …because they don’t want to pay for it. You’re not seeing the trash that’s not being sponsored. People aren’t going to sponsor trash because it doesn’t work. So it kind of filters itself. It’s kind of a nice Darwinian…[crosstalk]

John: It’s sort of like the old black hat stuff, huh? Black hat marketing where you do all these links to don’t go anywhere.

Paula: Oh yeah. You know the trash takes itself out. Right. So you know in a way it has increased the quality because people who want and need to be seen by specific people are doing a better job of targeting in a better job of creating quality ads because they have to pay for them. That is honestly better for everyone, and I say that with a great deal of angst because I don’t like paying for things that were free before, right?

John: Yeah.

Paula: So that’s pay-to-play. It is the thing, it is a reality. And, you know, so we are talking with almost all of our clients about how to invest in advertising on social media. You know, organic is still there. We still do our holiday posts, we still do other things and that is mainly just to maintain relationships with people that you already know. But as far as cold outreach goes, it’s almost all pay-to-play, do you agree?

John: Interesting. You’re the doc here. I’m the physician’s assistant.

Paula: Okay, on social media, that’s probably true. Okay, so let’s talk about Zero-Click. What do I mean by that?

It used to be that you could run a report in Google Analytics or Semrush or some of the reporting systems and you can see how many clicks you got from any particular Social Channel. That would give you an idea of how well you were doing with that Channel. A lot of the social channels have gotten very, very smart. They do not want people to click away from Facebook and go to your article on your website. They want you to stay on Facebook, so they penalize you for putting links in your posts. It’s a strategy called Zero-Click, you know, they want you to deliver your content natively on the platform and not take people away from it.

So that’s what I mean by Zero-Click. This is a grid that shows the major platforms whether they allow out links in the content. That means if I post a post with a link to an article on my website, is that allowed, or is that not? Does it allow out links in the bios on these channels? Does it prioritize native content? Do creators benefit from the Zero-Click approach?

I’m going to ignore that last column for the time being because that’s basically, if you’re selling advertising, most of us are not selling advertising, we’re selling products or services. So what this means is that you’re going to want a mix of very high-quality content that delivers your message in itself. It’s self-contained, you know, they know who you are, they know what your message is, and they leave knowing how to
reach you if they want to but you know without following a link to your website.

John: So just to link is self, you’re penalized for the link, not whether they click on it or not?

Paula: Exactly. You’re penalized for including a link in your content and in some cases…

John: How about a QR code?

Paula: Almost all of them. If you look at that chart…

John: I see it.

Paula: All but Reddit prioritizes native content, which means it penalizes you if you take people elsewhere.

John: Will that work for QR codes as well?

Paula: I don’t know, actually, for sure.

John: That would be a test to be worthy.

Paula: That would be worth a test. Yeah. Well, all but Reddit, Pinterest, and Quora. To be honest, I don’t have that much experience with Pinterest or Quora. So you want a good mix of content. Some of which are Zero-Click and which deliver the entire message, and short videos are great for that. You may have noticed a lot of the Social media that have short videos like Instagram stories, you know, have become a lot more popular. TikTok has become amazing, you know, for some of our flight schools and other folks like that, even Twitter and Facebook are now allowing those short videos and they’re doing well at delivering a message and moving on and there’s a reason for that or at least I think there’s a there’s a theory that I think helps with that. Go ahead.

John: So I can’t put a link in there, but you can put a link in a video in there that somebody’s got, that they can stop it and go type it in, right?

Paula: Yeah, or QR code where they stop the video and take a picture of the QR code. Yeah, there are lots of ways of doing that, but basically, what we’re back to, and this comes back to the everything old is new again, kind of situation, when they used to do this back in the day. Mr. Grocer was peddling Charmin. The “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin.” They were 1-minute ads. They paid a ton of money to be on TV and they delivered the entire message in a funny and engaging and smart sort of way.

John: Sold a lot of Charmin.

Paula: Sold a lot of Charmin. It was one of the most successful TV advertising campaigns of all time and we can learn a lot from that because that’s exactly what we’re stuck with nowadays. Mr. Grocer in the old Charmin ads on TV and on the black-and-white TV can’t give you a link, there’s nothing clickable, there’s nothing trackable. The people who produce Charmin and I don’t know if it was Procter & Gamble in those days or Kimberly-Clark or whoever it was, they have no way of knowing how many people saw this commercial.

John: Actually, they did.

Paula: They had the Nielsen ratings, right? But they didn’t track everybody that was just a sample size.

John: That’s true.

Paula: So they had very, very limited data on who even saw the ads, much less how many people waltzed over to the store and bought Charmin because of this ad.

John: All they could look at was timing.

Paula: Exactly, and that’s where we are again because of the Zero-Click policy and also because of a bunch of privacy policies and other things like that, we are back in the days…

John: Of the TV.

Paula: …of having to create very engaging, very relevant, very approachable advertising and having to do the metrics outside of the platform because we don’t own the platform. They didn’t in those days, they didn’t own the TV and all of the mechanisms that took yourself from sitting in the chair to putting your shoes on to going to the store to buying the Charmin to coming home. How much of that had to do with Mr. Grocer? How many commercials did you see before you bought Charmin as opposed to the other brands on the shelf?

So it’s not like it hasn’t been done before, right?

John: Exactly.

Paula: Okay. So Zero-Click is something that we can deal with. It is a pain in the neck for us marketers that are used to having all of that data and used to having all of that wonderful stuff to work with. So you know, this is a challenge, but it certainly is surmountable.

John: Workable.

Paula: Oh yeah. We’ve been here before, right?

John: Exactly.

Paula: Okay. All right. The difference is now we still have a lot of data that we didn’t have before. And when you sponsor an ad on social media, you can still target Mr. Grocer and his Charmin were broadcast to everybody with a TV. Of course, everybody with a TV probably uses toilet paper in some form or fashion. Whether they were making the purchasing decisions on the toilet paper is a whole other story, but it’s a universal product that everybody needs. So you could do that on TV. Since we are selling overhauls for PT6A engines or landing gear for Gulfstreams, or whatever it is that we’re selling…

John: That’s not universally needed by everybody

Paula: Exactly. There is a very small group of people that need most of the products or services that our clients sell. So we can target very specifically so that we are getting those 30 seconds or 1-minute ads in front of the right people. So that’s an advantage that we have still even if the metrics on the back end are not as good as they were a year ago, right?

John: Yes. I just had a thought.

Paula: Okay?

John: That’s okay. Not here.

Paula: Okay, I’m sure it will be another episode as soon as we figure out what it is that he’s trying to say. So is it still worth it? The answer is in the numbers. There is no better way to reach a very targeted market of people for a limited amount of cash.
You know, magazines are not what they used to be. We advertise in magazines and a lot of our clients do as well. We do trade shows but they’re not what they used to be some of them happen, some of them don’t. They’re not as reliable as they have been in the past. All of the other methods of marketing and means of marketing are evolving as well. So it’s not like social media is dead and it’s not like it’s going away. Any more than anything else is dead or going away.

John: It’s just changing.

Paula: It’s just changing as does everything else. So we watch the numbers. This is just a report based on some projections, but the numbers up to 2022 are accurate. So three point nine six billion people are on social media. If it is dead, I can live with three-point nine six billion people, right?

John: Yeah, you can probably sell hot dogs to at least one of them.

Paula: Exactly. So if I have a very specific product or service, I don’t care about three point nine six billion, I care about the hundred people that I want to sell to but they’re in there.

John: They’re in there.

Paula: Exactly. Pay to play, it’s a huge pain but I think it’s ultimately, probably a good thing. It does weed out a lot of the garbage that people have been subjected to for the past 15 years, on social media. Two, Zero-Click content. Yes, it’s a pain in the tail but it’s worth it, and that kind of goes along with the first, the privacy laws and everything else that is not tracking things as well as they could. It used to be that we had those wonderful trackable clicks. We don’t have those anymore because of Zero-Click and because of privacy, but that’s okay. It is still absolutely positively worth it. It is still moderately trackable. We just have to be a lot more creative about how we do it. QR codes are a very good idea. We’ll have to test that out with a campaign and stay tuned. You will be seeing a short video from ABCI very soon with a QR code in it and we’ll see how that works. So thanks for joining us and if you have questions or comments, about how social media has done you well or done you wrong. We’d love to hear it because we love to hear about people in the industry and their experiences with any of this right?

John: Yep.

Paula: Okay. Have a great week. I’ll see you next time.

John: Stay healthy and happy. See you next time.