Social media is great for increasing visibility and brand awareness. It’s also an effective way to build relationships, improve communications and inspire purchasing decisions. But it isn’t a miracle cure when it comes to breaking through the noise and getting your business the attention it deserves.   A combination of influencer fatigue, a rise in digital detoxes and confusing algorithms indicate the power of social media will eventually fade. If ever there were a rallying cry to transform the way we market our businesses, this is it.   Choose substance over vanity metrics Marketing thought leaders Portas Agency recently announced the dawning of ‘conscious consumerism’. This means instead of scrolling through social media feeds, consumers will look at how a brand “treats its staff fairly, focuses on sustainability, has good practices in sourcing and supply chain and can build a rapport with the customer” before they make a purchase.

So stop obsessing over follower counts and chasing collaborations with influencers and instead, make time for marketing techniques that mean something to your customers. Consider the priorities of your business Imagine you’ve just discovered a brand on social media and you’re ready to purchase from them: the outdated website keeps crashing, your emails go unanswered and when you pay a visit to the store it’s untidy and the manager is berating the staff. Then when you eventually receive your product the ‘Made in China’ label feels totally at odds with the brand’s supposedly ethical credentials. Could any amount of Twitter competitions make up for such a disastrous experience? Would seeing a blogger posing with their products build back some trust? Probably not. Social media should always have a place on your to-do list but there are some situations where it won’t save your business. Especially when there are issues that need to be fixed first. Embrace all forms of marketing Studies show that 72% of marketers agree content marketing (rather than social media) is the most effective way to increase engagement and sales leads, with longform content producing the best results. Newsletters are great for maximising the impact of special offers and company achievements while blogs generate web traffic and establish your brand as a leading voice. This past year longform content became an even more powerful force, with blogging expert Emma LaVelle hailing 2019 as ‘The Year of The Blog’. It also pays to think fresh. Scandinavian brand Monki engages customers through interactive content such as curated Spotify playlists while fast fashion giant Pretty Little Thing has its own podcast. And when 100 million hours of video is watched on Facebook every day, it may be a good time to fire up the iMovie app. This fearless attitude to marketing is championed by Stephen Bartlett, founder of the trailblazing marketing agency Social Chain. He predicts that 2020 will spark more marketing creativity with brands willing to be bold experiencing the biggest payoff. It’s time to ditch the same tired social media posts and dare to be unconventional.

Get noticed outside of social media In 2019 Instagram and Facebook experienced unprecedented technical difficulties, with numerous app outages hitting the headlines. A sign that it's time to diversify our marketing efforts? I recently interviewed public relations expert and author Lucy Werner who agrees. She says: “What happens if Instagram switches off tomorrow? You need to find a way to own your relationship with your customers without being reliant on social media. This is why public relations is so important. It’s about more than getting write ups in the media, it helps create a community, and a brand that has a great community is priceless." Public relations is just one approach that allows you to push boundaries with marketing because it's no longer all about traditional media such as magazines, newspapers and TV. In fact, it encompasses more than ever before. YouTube and the ever-popular podcast present opportunities for brands to expand their influence at a faster pace than social media alone allows. While community management (everything from giveaways and ‘random acts of kindness’ to masterclasses and pop-up stores) can help you develop a connection with your customers on a deeper level than double tapping an Instagram post. A new outlook for a new decade Whatever your goals are for the year ahead, social media should definitely be a part of your plans—but it should never be the only marketing you do. Luckily with so many exciting options out there, it doesn’t have to be.

Abi Rose is a writer, strategist and storyteller specialising in social media, copywriting and editorial content for award-winning brands from the worlds of beauty, fashion, lifestyle, interiors, wellness and independent publishing.  

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