2018 has been a challenging year for a lot of brands, especially because of social media. Social media consumption is at an all time high, but user satisfaction is dipping dramatically. Recent studies at the University of California show that there’s a correlation between high Facebook usage and negative physical and mental health, as well as negative life satisfaction.

Another study showed that there’s a high rate of connection between social media usage and anxiety in 18 to 22 year olds; high social media usage indicates a higher likelihood for anxiety disorders as well.

Younger and younger people are recognizing that social media usage is harming their wellbeing, and many young consumers are moving away from “legacy apps” like Facebook and even Instagram.

Facebook in particular has suffered huge consequences in 2018; it’s impossible to forget their data scandal earlier this year, and the resulting #DeleteFacebook movement. Facebook might have recovered in their stocks, but there’s a lasting distrust in the public sphere that shows no signs of going anywhere anytime soon. “The era of the algorithmic feed where personal, news and spam is all lumped together may be nearing an end,” reports Michael Spencer.

If this is indeed the end of an era, you might be spending valuable marketing money in the wrong place. Social media spending takes up 13.8% of most brands’ total marketing budgets, but 39.9% of companies are unable to show what impact it has on their brands, if any.

What does this mean for your business?

That leaves you in a tight spot. Since social media investment is at an all-time high but might not be as productive as we were all lead to believe, now what?

You need to think ahead to get ahead of potential problems in your marketing. One of the biggest mistakes brands are currently making is their over-reliance on influencers.

“Fake followers…poor measurement…and mostly notably, a saturation of professional influencers who often drift away from the expertise or authentic personal qualities that made them influential in the first place” are all contributing to the burst of the influencer bubble, according to Agility PR.

Since apps like Instagram and Twitter have become overrun with ads, consumers are turning away. People want an authentic voice from influencers like bloggers, but “shilling” has replaced that.

You might see a change in your engagement as well, and that’s ok. Organic social media marketing really doesn’t work anymore, so if you aren’t boosting posts actively, your audience might not even be seeing your content. This is where specified targeting works wonders.  It’s more worthwhile to you and your brand to reach out to selected groups, rather than trying to reach a broad audience.

The Next Step for Your Brand

It might feel impossible, but your brand can recover before it’s too late. The answer here is authenticity. Social media addiction is at an all-time high, but satisfaction levels are rapidly dropping. “Your customers need to see that you have their best interest in mind, or they will take their business elsewhere,” reports SmallBizClub. Being authentic will show them that you really care.

Do this by focusing on quality content. E-books, business guides, and case studies are all excellent ways to share about the benefits of your business without being “spammy.” Testimonials are particularly impactful because they allow potential customers to see the real effect your business will have on their lives. “By sharing, you are showing integrity and honesty, which are incredibly important to young consumers,” explains Answer 1.

It might be premature to say that social media is dying entirely. Rather, recent trends indicate that consumers are moving away from apps and brands that were considered institutions. Audiences want a different experience online, and if your brand can give it to them, then you’ll come out ahead. Switch up engagement, find where your audience is plugged in, and share your quality content there. Make sure you have a focus.

Your business can outlast the burst of the influencer bubble and the changing tides of social media. You just need to make sure that your content is authentic, your social media is focused, and your customers understand you care.

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Parker Davis
Parker Davis is the CEO of Answer 1, a leader in the virtual receptionist and technology enabled answering services industry. He believes that the application of data analytics, investment in technology, and fostering a positive company culture together create highly efficient and scalable growth companies. In 2016, Answer 1 achieved record revenues while also being awarded the Top Companies to Work For in Arizona award. Parker is also the Managing Partner of Annison Capital Partners, LLC, a private investment partnership. Follow him @Answer1 and on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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