It is no exaggeration to say that media organizations have to get aboard the social media train before it runs them over.
The numbers are devastatingly clear: digital advertising is exploding while print ad spending is shrinking. At the same time, marketers worldwide are increasing their budgets for social media more than any other digital marketing channel in 2015, according to a survey by Salesforce of 5,000 marketers.
That presents a daunting challenge and significant opportunity to media companies.
“Social media have such large and deeply engaged audiences that newspapers must find a way of making money off this disruptive new media ecosystem,” Allen D. Mutter, Editor & Publisher columnist, wrote on his blog “Reflections of a Newsosaur.”
Some media companies are starting to get the message. Consider these:
So why aren’t more media companies monetizing social media? Probably because their online and sales staffs are already overloaded. But they don’t have to do it alone.
There are plenty of companies out there who can help, from SocialNewsDesk to GrowthWeaver to LEAP to my company, Friends2Follow, to name just a few.
Friends2Follow, for example, has been helping media companies for three years take back market share from social media sites "like" Facebook and Twitter.
The basic idea is simple: Friends2Follow’s widget on a media website helps monetize advertisers’ social media by providing them with a megaphone to the local audience news organizations serve.
This is particularly important to advertisers now because Facebook and other social media companies are ending the free gravy train – something many local businesses don’t realize.
Advertising Age, Forbes, Time Magazine and others reported last year that the average reach of organic (i.e. free) posts had declined from 12 percent in October to 6 percent in February.
That means the typical advertiser, who spends an average of six hours a week on social media, is only reaching six out of 100 followers with any one post. And there are predictions of organic reach becoming “Facebook zero.”
More than 180 publications use Friends2Follow to help their advertisers overcome that obstacle, and to introduce their products and services to a whole new audience.
Friends2Follow’s widget produces very measurable results, according to Sue Nelson, retail/digital advertising manager for several Morris Multimedia publications in Georgia.
“Not only has it been well received by our advertisers, but it has been the best performing ad space we own – and that isn’t my opinion – it’s in the numbers," she said.
Being aggressive on social media has other less obvious benefits for news organizations.
First, social media is rapidly overtaking search as the top source of referral traffic and shows no sign of slowing.
Unfortunately, newspapers have been slow to grasp this change. Media analyst Ken Doctor estimates that newspapers get 8-12 percent of their referrals from social media. But online only competitors like BuzzFeed get 75 percent.
Media companies need to create a virtuous cycle of driving traffic from their homepages to their social media channels and vice versa. It not only helps generate revenue, it also provides access to a lot of nonnewspaper readers.
“Invest the resources — both headcount and budget — to support social as a viable channel, because it is,” Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing report concluded. “With 66 percent of marketers rating it as core to their business, it’s no longer the fringe marketing outlet it once was.”
Friends2Follow’s Chief Strategy Officer John Winn Miller is an awardwinning investigative reporter, foreign correspondent, editor and publisher. He served on The Associated Press board of directors and has been a Pulitzer Prize juror. He is also journalist in residence at the University of Kentucky and an independent movie producer.
For more information about Friends2Follow, or to schedule a short webinar demonstration, contact Reinig Morris, VP of sales, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801) 403-7966. You can also visit our website www.friends2follow.com.