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Social Pros is one of the most popular marketing podcasts in the world, and was recently named the best podcast at the Content Marketing Awards. Listen for real insight on the real people doing real work in social media. You get the inside stories and behind-the-scenes secrets about how companies like Ford, Dell, IBM, ESPN, and dozens more staff, operate, and measure their social media programs.
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Michael Stelzner, the Founder of Social Media Examiner, joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss the death of organic reach and the future of social media.
Is organic reach dead?
With organic reach diminishing, is social media headed for a bumpy future whereby the only way to get noticed is to pay for it?
Our guest on this episode of Social Pros, Michael Stelzner, the Founder of Social Media Examiner, certainly thinks so, stating, “marketers gulp as customer acquisition costs rise,” and he’s not wrong.
According to Mark Zuckerburg, there are 7 million active advertisers on Facebook. That’s a lot of competition and the cost of advertising is rising rapidly with no sign of slowing down. Not only that, but more than half of all Google’s organic search results end in zero clicks.
So, what can marketers do to be seen in an age where organic reach seems to be on the way out? You’ll have to listen to this episode of Social Pros to find out!
In This Episode:
- 04:20 – Why marketers are likely to focus more on video as customer acquisition costs increase
- 12:13 – How Social Media Examiner are using links to develop a community on Facebook
- 16:16 – What Michael would recommend the board of YouTube does differently
- 21:16 – How marketers can leverage Instagram Stories to advertise their business
- 23:55 – How Michael plans to get up to 25,000 views per YouTube video in 2020
- 28:27 – How marketers are using automation and an insight into the ‘dark side’ of automation and bots
- 32:55 – Why older people are more likely to survive on social than the younger generation
Quotes From This Episode:
“Only 43% of marketers are planning on doing anything with live video.” – @Mike_Stelzner
Marketers are beginning to understand and wake up to the need to do organic video content - specifically on YouTube. Click To Tweet
“We get much higher click through rate (as high as 5%) when we create a thumbnail that does not have any text in it at all.” – @Mike_Stelzner
- Get the new State of Marketing report for free from Salesforce here.
- Find out more about the community at SocialMedia.org with a special form for Social Pros listeners here.
- Find out more about how Emma can help you improve your email marketing
- Sign up and get Sales Force’s FREE e-book, 50 Social Media Best Practices
- Check out Social Media Examiner
- Read Michael’s article, ‘The Death of Google Search Traffic and What It Means for Marketers’
What’s your one tip for becoming a social pro?
Nothing is going to make you a professional other than actually doing it. Tracking is important too, so stop what isn’t working and find a way to change it so that it works better.
If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who would it be?
Michael would choose Robert Iger, the CEO of The Walt Disney Company to discuss how long it took him to get Disney Plus off the ground and what’s his actual plan for the future of that service.
I think the people that are going to survive in the long run are the people that have been around for a while, because I really don’t think that this younger generation is prepared for the whipsaw that they’re about to enter into.
Well that’s a new pristine perspective from our friend, Mike Stelzner, from Social Media Examiner thinking that in the future those who are most successful on social may not be the young people. That’s a different perspective. But I think it’s because Mike understands how much social media has changed, Adam, and how much it’s going to change in the near future.
It is. We joke Mike is one of the godfathers of this entire industry that we’ve been in and he’s been on this show as we’re trying to figure out here four times, and it may sound controversial as you said when you kind of hear Mike say that, but what I think happens when you unpack it is you do realize, and this is one of the things that Mark articulates even talking about the newest Disney+ towards the end of our program, how everything is changing, this move to video, the importance of that, but still with all the technology and innovation, the importance of story telling and the importance, Jay, [inaudible 00:01:12] we talk about here each and every week.
Yeah, it’s a great episode. Mike always brings the goods here on Social Pros. Very candid about what he’s working on at Social Media Examiner, the experiments they’re running on YouTube, on Facebook, on TikTok, on IGTV and beyond. Lots of really smart tactical advice in this program.
And some great stats there in the opening.
Yeah, some great stats. Yep.
And a lot of big picture conversation between the three of us about where all of this is headed. There’s a lot going on in social and next year is going to be quite a bumpy ride for a lot of us, so buckle your seat belts for this episode of Social Pros. As always, thanks to our sponsors of the program, including Salesforce Marketing Cloud who have a great e-book that you can get for free, which is really germane to today’s conversation. It is called Fifty Social Media Best Practices, five zero social media best practices, put together by Adam and his team at Salesforce Marketing Cloud. I want you to get it, you’ll learn a lot. Go to bit.ly/tips50social. Let me spell that out for you, B-I-T dot L-Y slash tips, T-I-P-S, five zero social. Bit.ly/tips50social for the e-book from Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
Also, the show this week brought to you by our pals at Emma. Now this is a show about social media, as you know obviously. In some cases, the person who does social also does email, and if that’s the case, I’m sorry. That’s a lot to have on your plate. In other organizations, the person who does social is friends with the person who does email. In either case, you should get a hold of our friends at Emma. They’re a fantastic email service provider, help you send the best possible email, help make sure your email gets opened and clicked on, lots of interesting marketing automation tools and tactics available as well, but most importantly, Emma is down there in Nashville, Tennessee and they’re actually staffed by real human beings who will answer the phone, who will help you make better email. It’s not just some sort of queue or help docs. They’ll actually help you, which is really nice in this day and age. To learn more about Emma, how they can help make your email better, go to myemma.com. That’s M-Y Emma dot com/jayisawesome. Myemma.com/jayisawesome, and no, I did not pick the URL. But I did pick this guest. For the fourth time, it’s Mike Stelzner here on The Social Pros Podcast.
He is back, ladies and gentlemen, for what we believe to be the fourth time, and the fifth time you’re on Social Pros, which has actually never happened, but will happen eventually, you receive a silk kimono. So one episode shy of silk kimono, please welcome back, he is the Grand Pooh-Bah of Social Media Examiner, the one, the only, Mr. Mike Stelzner. Mike, thanks for being back on the show. Nice to see you as always.
Hey, it’s great to be back with you guys. I have lost count, but I appreciate what you’re doing and you’ve been doing it forever, so keep up the good work, both of you guys.
Kimono’s in the mail. You were on this show a year or so ago and this has been such a big year for social. I mean we’ve talked about it every week on our show, you talk about it every week on your show and also all the other great content that you produce, you and your team, at SME. If you had to write one headline that describes what happened in social in 2020, what would it be? What would your sort of summary-
Here it is. Ready?
I’m super ready.
Marketers gulp as customer acquisition costs rise.
Marketers gulp as customer acquisition costs rise. Yeah. I would-
That wraps it up.
Yeah, I would go with the free lunch is over. I completely agree. It is now very, very difficult to play this game with no money added. We were talking offline and you believe that as a result of the diminishing organic reach, that marketers are going to go even stronger into video next year. Talk about that a little bit.
Well, first of all if I could just give a little bit on why I give that headline. It’s getting a lot more… and it’s going to lead right into video. It’s getting a lot more difficult to get reach period and there’s a lot more advertisers out there. Mark Zuckerberg recently said a couple months ago that there were seven million active advertisers on Facebook. So that’s seven million “people” or businesses competing with you and those costs are going up. But the other thing is the thing that most people aren’t even thinking about, commercial free video. As of this recording, Disney+ recently launched, Apple+ recently launched, and of course you’ve got Amazon Prime, you’ve got Netflix. These are all commercial free video platforms that are rivaling any traditional television. There are no commercials. When you think about that and you add in YouTube Red, you begin to understand that the world is being trained that videos should not have commercials. That’s going to be a big deal, Jay, for advertisers, especially traditional advertisers, because that means the inventory is shrinking and that money has got to go somewhere. I’m curious what your thoughts are on that.
Well you’re right. The money has to go somewhere. What we’re going to find is that our competitive set for attention, which we’ve already seen I think in other forms of social advertising isn’t really the other companies that you are battling out with every day for content or SEO traffic. The attention battle is going to be you versus Pepsi and you versus Salesforce. Thanks, Adam. And people along those lines. I mean we’ve already seen it here in the fourth quarter with some of our clients where we’re doing some paid campaigns and it’s just really hard to get campaigns to deliver. There just isn’t enough inventory, so that’s going to drive prices up and I think next year is going to be a weeding out year for a lot of people. There’s going to be a lot of companies who have to fundamentally, not a little bit, I mean fundamentally, rethink what they’re doing in social and in content in 2020. As we always tell our clients, if you’ve got a strategy that’s older than eight months, you don’t actually have a strategy.
This will be the biggest transformation I believe in the media mix modeling that has been standard, for at least the past decade and a half as social has been here, that we’ve ever seen. I think, Mike, it’s a huge issue, it’s a huge challenge, and I think social will be a winner there, I think product placement opportunities in that non-interruptive television is also a big, big piece of this and just content, kind of advertorial type content.
Yeah, if you start thinking about the future and you start thinking about cars where no one is driving it, it’s being driven by computer algorithms, people are going to have a lot of time while they’re commuting to work to consume something and they’re going to watch that video or they’re going to watch your video. I’ve got some interesting statistics, Jay, which leads into your second question. If you want, I can share them with you about what marketers are doing with video.
Our research shows that only 43% of marketers are planning on doing anything with live video, and that’s pretty shocking. The vast majority have no plans to do anything with live video. Only 12% are utilizing YouTube ads and only 41% plan on doing anything more with YouTube ads. And 71% do plan on doing more video on YouTube but not ad video, we’re talking organic video. And 75% want to learn more about it. So what these trends show me based on our 2019 social media marketing industry report of about 4500 marketers is that marketers are beginning to understand and wake up to the need to do organic video content, specifically on YouTube.
You’re doing both organic and paid on YouTube now at Social Media Examiner, yes? Talk to us about that [crosstalk 00:09:13].
We’re actually only doing organic.
We’re only doing organic and really our strategy is actually… Here’s the deal. A few months ago I wrote this blog article called… it’s about the demise of Google organic search. I think if you Google the death of Google organic search.
We’ll link it up in the show notes at socialpros.com.
The premise is that Google is taking the top five or six slots and putting the answers in there and they’re no longer being clicked on and more than half of all Google searches result in no click at all. So that old adage of SEO is becoming something that doesn’t seem to work anymore because Google is competing against Alexa and all these other platforms to provide the answer, not to provide the click. So as a result, those of us that are content creators, like all of us that are here, should see that as a competitive threat. So of course Google owns YouTube but the trends with video consumption are so huge that I made the decision that we were going to go ahead and invest a lot of money on a two year strategy to create original video tutorials if you will on YouTube that have no advertising, no call to action other than watch the next video. Our goal is to grow that channel to about 200,000 subscribers over two years to get 25,000 average viewers per video. Over two years, I’m investing a lot of money in it and we’re publishing two to three videos a week. No call to action, no marketing other than a little sign in the back that says Social Media Marketing World subliminally or my t-shirt that says Social Media Marketing World. That’s it.
And the idea there is to grow a new audience and to program our audience that hey, there’s people that just don’t read anymore. They watch by learning. There’s some people that learn by listening, some by reading, and some by watching. We want to attract that watcher crowd and since we’ve been doing this, we shut down The Journey, which was our old docu-series and we’re just focusing on providing the same value that we do in articles delivered by experts like yourself in studio, direct to camera on stuff that we know our audience is interested in, and it’s working. We’re only at about 32,000, 33,000 subs as of today. We’re getting about 2000 to 7000 views per video, but we know this is a long game.
But you think that’s a different audience in terms of the composition of people or the same audience just a different modality to reach them?
Totally different audience. Our metrics show they’re not the same at all. Seventy percent men on YouTube are watching our content versus 60% women on the other social platforms. We’re picking up a different audience, different age demographics, and we’re also picking up people that learn in different kinds of mediums as well. It’s just really fascinating to see. And even the age demographic is slightly different. Some people that are in our core demographic are also following us over there but some aren’t, and really our goal is to try to capture the audience that’s already there, which is a billion people that are watching every day on YouTube.
One of the things that happened before your newer move to YouTube in this two year extensive strategy to build a bulkhead there was your move away from Facebook video, and in fact the last time you were on this show one of the things we talked about extensively was the fact that you sort of pulled out the stakes and said, “We’re not really going to do original video programming on Facebook any longer. It’s just not working.” What has happened since then? Have you seen more of the same? Do you regret leaving Facebook video now that it’s been a year or so? How do you feel about that decision?
No regrets. We do not publish any original video at all live and/or not live on YouTube other than the occasional getting ready for the conference and bringing on-
On Facebook you mean.
On Facebook I meant, yeah. Sorry, on Facebook. Instead what we do on Facebook, believe it or not, is we link to our YouTube videos and it works, which this used to be considered no, don’t ever do that. But now, for some crazy reason, Facebook is giving favor to YouTube videos, which is really bizarre. They’re pulling the full cover image of the video, they’re allowing the reach to come up, they’re getting shared and it’s surprising that it’s actually working. But our core strategy on Facebook right now is to pretty much just develop community. We’re mostly asking questions, sharing news, and the occasional link. I say occasional, maybe once a week we’ll share to an article. But twice a week we’re sharing to our YouTube videos and we’re doing it on the weekends because we know people sometimes have a little more time to watch videos on the weekends.
I want you to elaborate on that a little bit about links, because you still publish five, is it five blog posts a week?
Yeah, at least five or six, I can’t remember.
Five or six blog posts a week every week without fail, yet, if I interpreted what you just said correctly for The Social Pros listeners, you do not post to Facebook about the content that you are creating on your site. You have an audience on Facebook, you’re not telling them that new content has been published. That is a very intentional strategy. I actually use the same strategy. People often question the strategy. I want you to explain why you think it works.
Well, let’s be crystal clear. Facebook wants our money and I’m not willing to pay for that traffic. I mean, that’s all there is to it, okay. We’re smart, just like everybody else. We look at the analytics and we see how bad the reach is when we link to an article on our website. So what we do is we reverse engineer it. We’ll take maybe the best article that really performed well based on shares and based on time on site and based on some other metrics that we care about, and we will strategically choose maybe once a week to share that article. But we still don’t get a lot of reach on that stuff, unless it just takes off and gets shared like crazy. It just doesn’t work anymore. We still do it on Twitter because our audience is kind of… we just haven’t gotten to the point where we stop doing it on Twitter.
Well and Twitter doesn’t really penalize you for using a link in the same way that Facebook does.
On LinkedIn, we do not publish every single one on LinkedIn either. It’s just we’ve gotten to a day, Jay, where it’s all about staying on the social platform, it’s all about developing the community, it’s all about just like YouTube wants you to stay on YouTube, Facebook wants you to stay on Facebook. It’s about community development and the occasional article is fine, but man I see all the other media companies out there getting no comments, no likes, nothing, and all they do is just set it, program it, and forget it. I’ve got to say that’s just not working anymore and smart marketers should stop doing that, I think. Unless it’s really working for them.
Yeah, I mean they’re actually literally using plug-ins which is every time a blog post gets published, automatically promote that blog post on Facebook and that never works. It worked at some point, but it doesn’t work now.
It doesn’t just not work, it also hurts you with the other stuff, because it sends a signal to the algorithm that these guys-
The content is low quality, it’s not share worthy.
Yeah, and we’re just not going to share any of their… we’re not going to get reach for any of their stuff and it does hurt everything. That’s been our research at least, or our findings.
Mike, your insights on this whole industry, you’ve been in this business as long as you have, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Marketing World, I’m curious of your perspective on a couple of different things, and I think the first thing is looking at this business kind of from the opposite way that we typically look at it, from Social Pros, and that is asking you a bit of imaginary question. But if you were on the board of directors of YouTube, and we’ll pick YouTube first, but you could probably put in any social channel at this point, what would be your recommendation that they do differently? So often we kind of think about responding to what these organizations do, what would be your recommendation on the board of YouTube?
Holy cow. That is a really interesting question because there’s so much going on with YouTube.
I think that if I was on the board of YouTube, I’d say, “All right you guys. Apple is in the game, Disney’s in the game, what are we going to do about this? We’ve got to start creating more original content, we’ve got to come out with something that’s not just YouTube Red, and we’ve got to figure out how to do it for free and just have commercials on it and be fine with it.” Because the reality is they could crush those guys if they wanted to. Because all those guys want what YouTube has, which is the billions of consumers every day. So if I was on YouTube, I’d say, “Wake the you-know-what up before your lunch gets handed to you by these other players who are producing much higher quality content.” That’s what I would say.
The other thing that I would say-
Yeah, like Netflix shouldn’t actually exist, right? If YouTube would have figured this out earlier-
If YouTube had done their job.
Yeah, and the reality, YouTube should have bought Netflix and given it away for free with commercials. I don’t know why they didn’t do that. Apple could have done that too. But yeah, Google… YouTube should see everything as a legitimate threat to their existence that’s happening with these other billion dollar conglomerates right now. That’s what I would say.
I want to go into YouTube a little bit. Can the two camps of YouTube, if you look at YouTube, you’ve got let’s just call it the Red camp, you’ve got the professional capital P Hollywood content creation machine, and trying to figure out how to monetize that. Then you’ve got people like our listeners, you’ve got content creators that have anywhere from one to maybe 100,000 or a million viewers and obviously the interests and the revenue streams of these two camps are very, very different. Can YouTube coexist supporting the needs of the content creator who’s trying to do this as a career and big Hollywood?
Well they’ve been doing it with the music industry for years, I don’t see why they couldn’t. I mean, think about it. Almost every music video is hosted on YouTube and it’s under that brand, I can’t even remember what it’s called, you probably… Jay, do you know off the top of your head? You know what I’m talking about? It says YouTube and it’s got like a V in it.
Yeah, I do. I can’t remember though.
They’ve been doing it with Hollywood forever, I mean with the music studios forever. Somehow these music studios are putting these videos up on YouTube and they’re monetizing it and they’re making good money. These videos are getting bazillions of views and they’re short videos. They’re like seven minutes, five minutes, however long the song is. I don’t even know if I’ve gone off on a tangent, have I or… I think what’s going on here is Google is playing a lot of interesting games here. They’ve got this skinny bundle thing where you can pay $20, $30, $40 a month and you can cut your cable and you can get all these traditional network. It might be that because they’re so scared about burning that relationship with those providers of traditional television that they’re not willing to compete with those people. I think somewhere along the line they’re going to have to cut bait and say forget about it, let’s just go ahead and let’s create something that can crush Netflix, Apple, and everyone else and let’s monetize it because people will be willing to watch it for free if there’s commercials. That would blow up. You know if Netflix had commercials how many more people they’d have watching that thing? I mean it would explode and it would be free.
This whole decoupling of television right, where instead of paying $200 for all your channels, now you’re going to pay $200 but you’re going to pay it $15 at a time, it’s unsustainable. Now I have seven different bills and seven different credit card charges because I’ve got to pay Apple every month and Disney and Netflix and NBC and ABC and whoever else is going in this game, that is not going to work. I understand why we’re in the place we’re in, but two years from now consumers are going to say, “This is stupid,” and something else is going to happen.
Yeah. I don’t know if we’ve gone off on a tangent here, but did that answer your question, Adam?
No, it did. I think to kind of bring it back around, I’m curious with as you talk to your listeners, as you talk to the participants at your shows, everything else that you do and the conference, are they feeling frustrated by this or are they saying, “Listen, hey, this is an opportunity for us as a social media practitioner. We’re going to get a larger share of budget from our chief marketing officer, our chief communications officer, we have an opportunity to do something bigger here. What are you hearing from them?
I think they’re just not quite aware of how big this opportunity is and I think a lot of them are beginning to have their eyes wide open as they begin to see what’s happening in this industry. If you just take something as simple as Instagram and you think about how you have 500 million people a day watching 10-second to 15-second video clips on Instagram in IG stories represents a massive opportunity for marketers, and it’s the cheapest ad play in all of Facebook period. Mark Zuckerberg has said it himself, there’s not enough advertisers available for Instagram stories right now. There’s an opportunity right there that they’re not even taking part of, because they think that Instagram has to be perfect and polished and stories are exactly the opposite of that. You literally pull out your phone, record a vertical video, shaky with your phone in 10 seconds and you’re done. It’s hot. I don’t know, do you guys watch stories at all?
And then let’s take the Chinese owned… why am I drawing a blank here?
I was at VidSummit in Los Angeles about a month ago talking to a lot of YouTube creators who tell me that they do four hour binge watches of TikTok.
That’s a lot.
That sounds exhausting.
What you have to understand about TikTok is they’re 15-second clips, but what TikTok has got down is it’s got a really good algorithm down and it knows what you like and what you don’t like and it will serve up nonstop, so if you love funny stuff, it will keep you entertained for hours. I know it sounds crazy to think that you could be entertained for literally hours watching 15-second random clips from people you have no clue who they are, but that’s exactly what they’re doing. It just begins to show you there’s some sort of opportunity. Just like when you watch Instagram stories, sometimes you’ll just let it play and you go through all your friends and before you know it, you’ve been on there for 15 minutes or 10 minutes or whatever. So this is like a new paradigm that we’ve never had before. It represents a great opportunity for marketers and I just don’t think they have yet to adopt it.
You talked about this idea of getting your views for each YouTube video up to 25,000 per show, per episode at some point. What do you believe, and you do a lot of experiments, but what do you believe is the key to unlocking that? Is it the content and what you’re doing shows about, is it the titling, is it the search optimization of each video? As you look out over the next 18 months, what’s going to get you there?
Well it’s really fascinating. I’m an analytics geek and what’s really cool about YouTube is when you go in your analytics, there’s this category or this tab called reach, and they show you exactly how many people they showed your video to and they show you a little funnel and they show you what the click through rate is, and then they show you what the watch is. So the key to everything is YouTube samples your video to people that they think are going to like it and then it watches to see how many people click on it, and they give you the option to alter the thumbnail. So the thumbnail is absolutely essential because it’s the big thing that everybody sees and the thumbnail and the headline we’re beginning to understand play together.
What I’ve discovered is that we get much higher click through rate, as high as like 5% click through rate, when we create a thumbnail that does not have any text in it at all or has some sort of crazy thing in it, just like one word that doesn’t seem to make any sense on its own but tells a story when coupled with the headline itself. So this is the key, headline should not be repeated into the thumbnail. Instead, we did one with Rick [inaudible 00:25:28] about Mulready about Facebook ads and had a big X in it and it said “Stop this now,” or something along those lines, and the title of the video was like How to Use Facebook to Find Ideal Custom Audiences or something like that. It created that intrigue and it’s got high click through rates. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing is that we learn you need to get right into your content in the first second. You don’t like say, “Hey everybody, how’s it going?”, like you do on live. It doesn’t work that way. Then when you have that little clip, that is that typical transition, it should be like three seconds. It should say what you’re about and then at the very end of the video, you need to end like those TV shows where the credits are coming up and the movie is just finishing, have you ever seen that before? You need to literally end at the last second of the video. So you have to cut the video so that there’s like just mere seconds left. The reason why you do all of this is because what YouTube cares about is session duration. So if you can get them to go right to the end of the video, the likelihood that they’ll go to another video increases, because right after that comes a grid of videos or a video that’s on the screen. So these three things coupled together have helped the session duration. And when you have a good session duration, YouTube is going to lift your video above somebody else’s because they know it’s going to keep them on the platform better, longer.
I love it. You are in the planning stages now for next year’s big conference, Social Media Marketing World 2020. I will be back actually doing a session about content shows and building episodic binge-worthy shows in your social media. I’m excited to bring that to the stage. What are you going to have next year in the conference? What topics are you going to cover more than you did perhaps in 2019?
Well we have four video tracks this y ear, which we did not have last year and one new video track we have is video creation track, which is something we’ve never done before because we feel like a lot of social media marketers did not come from the world of video creation, that came maybe from the world of writing or journalism or PR, so we’ve got a whole track on video creating.
No longer optional, Social Pros listeners, as you hear Adam and I talk about every week. Whether you came from the field of video or not is immaterial. Guess what? You are now a videographer.
Yes, exactly. And that’s something that I think a lot of people really want to learn about, so that’s a brand new track that we’ve added this year. Our local track is growing. There’s a lot of local businesses that are interested in the unique challenges that come with local business. Obviously our Instagram track is probably our lead track this year because it’s hot, hot, hot. We also have bazillions of people speaking on Facebook ads of course, because even though it’s getting competitive, it kind of does require understanding the nuances of it more because if you don’t want to blow through your budget you’ve got to be careful about how you do what you do with your ads. This is really kind of a zooming in if you will on a couple of categories that we feel like are really going to be valuable in the next year for marketers.
I think one topic, Mike, that we talked about last year when you were on the show, you’ve been on the show four times, and a topic that has been important at your conference and other conferences that we’ve talked about in the past has been automation and AI, from both the marketer standpoint as well as the user standpoint. I’m curious is automation and AI still a big, sexy, bright shiny object in terms of things that you’re talking about at Social Media Marketing World? Is it kind of rescinding a little bit or are we just all expecting this automation is taking place that’s making our jobs as marketers, as communicators, as Jay said videographers easier?
Yeah, it’s a wonderful question. Last year we had our biggest track ever on messenger bots. It was a huge track and fascinatingly enough, it wasn’t as well attended as we had projected and we began to notice throughout the last year that our articles on messenger bots were not as well received. We began to notice that our research showed that while bots were interesting, they rose and fell faster than anything we’ve ever seen in the last 10 years that we’ve been doing our research study. So it seems like the automation on the messenger side had a blip and then had a drop. And I think why is because the promise of it was so awesome, right. Here you can go ahead and think of it like open rates on emails and you can quadruple your open rates. But then when people actually got in the sandbox with bots and they realized, “Holy crap, this is complicated. How the hell do I manage this? What do I do with this? Facebook is changing the rules on this, dot dot dot dot dot,” all the sudden this automation thing wasn’t what everybody thought it was.
So we still have a track, we’ve cut it in half. It doesn’t have as many sessions this year. It’s still powerful but we’re beginning to see kind of the Social Media Marketing World has pulled a little away from the acceptance of bots. I’m not saying it’s powerful, but I’m saying they’ve kind of been repulsed by it a little bit and instead, there’s that human interaction that’s happening more privately using messenger and using private DMs on Instagram and stuff. So we’re seeing a lot more people focus on the human to human interaction instead of the human to bot interaction. Jay, have you found the same thing and/or Adam?
I think everybody is interested in it, or at least a lot of enterprise companies, because of the potential efficiency gains, but it is absolutely, and we’re doing a lot of consulting on this topic at Convince & Convert, it’s absolutely harder than people think to do it well. It’s actually really easy to do it mediocre, it’s really easy to do it poorly, especially there’s a lot of technology out there to do simple Facebook messenger which I believe we talked about this on a previous episode. If you go to socialpros.com you can click one button and we’ll make sure you know every time an episode is published. That took us five minutes to implement that. That’s a very, very simple way of handling these kind of circumstances. When you start to do a very nuanced approach where you’re trying to replicate human assistance at some level with a bot, it is absolutely possible and we’ve got great partners out there who use that technology, but you have to be mindful of the customer experience. Just because the technology exists, doesn’t mean it’s super easy to implement.
I think what’s happened is, Mike, there is some horror stories about people using bots, not just Facebook messenger, but other types of live chat and web chat programs and kind of rushing into it and then not executing it very well and then customers get turned off and then you kind of have to pull back and so I think we’re sort of in that phase where people are kind of casting a glance at it, but I do believe that over time we’ll have that sort of second bump and higher adoption, as often happens with technology.
Well, and the other dark side to automation and bots is that it’s been used for spam and almost all the social platforms have locked that down. Twitter and Facebook have deleted these fake accounts that are automatically, and YouTube, that are commenting and doing all this kind of automation stuff os I think it went really bad and really dark really fast and I think as a result a lot of the platforms are easing back the controls and the API access on that kind of stuff. I think it’s going to… But on the email side of things, man, automation is friggin incredible. But that’s not something that a lot of social marketers focus on.
I think, Mike, you articulated it. Bots and automation are demonstrating how we’re all being stretched, I think as social media practitioners, to have to know a lot of things about a lot of things and that kind of leads to my last question for you. I’d love your thoughts on that, but my question is as you talk to social media practitioners, as they come to your conferences, and as they read your publications, I’m curious if you feel that the young social media community managers out there, the rank and file that are doing this each and every day, are they seeing kind of a career path to more senior jobs in this industry, and is it in these more particular disciplines, like knowing bots, knowing more about videography, going kind of more in the traditional PR ad or digital world? I’m curious on your thoughts on really how this whole economy is working from your vantage point.
Yeah. I haven’t really thought about the people that are entering into the industry, but I can say that I don’t have any empirical evidence on this, but I can say for my own observation that it seems like they’re almost all focused on Instagram and YouTube. We’re talking about the people that are young. They all want to be influencers, they all want to be famous, they all want to figure out how to gain Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok by the way. I cannot begin to tell you how many young people think that they’re the hottest thing in the world because they had a million views on their TikTok video, even though nobody knows who they are.
So for them, and even my own kids, they just want… they just see it as a rocket ship to fame and they just assume that they’re going to get some sort of something that’s going to come from it. And I don’t see a lot of the fresh out of college people or the really young people that are the high schoolers really understanding how much everything has changed and how different it was even just a couple years ago. I don’t think they yet have the capacity to look into the future and see how it’s just going to shift again. Because all it takes is somebody to change the rules and it’s all going to change.
Yeah, fascinatingly enough, I think the people that are going to survive in the long run are the people that have been around for a while, because I really don’t think that this younger generation is prepared for the whipsaw that they’re about to enter into. I don’t know. What do you think?
I agree with the idea and I’m married to a college professor so this is something we talk about each and every night, of the importance of story telling. Jay, it’s what we talk about here. The importance of being able to craft a message no matter whether you’re doing that on Instagram, TikTok, or for a printed ad in the Wall Street Journal. It’s still that same creative spirit and need to be able to communicate. But on the other side of it is the understanding of all these platforms and channels, and I think my 12-year-old niece who’s on TikTok every night probably knows a lot more about that platform quite frankly than I do.
Well, I think you hit onto something. I think story telling is a universal principle that’s going to last, regardless of what the next platform is, and it’s always been important. It will continue to be important and those whom can tell stories well can succeed in the long run, and telling a story requires time. In order to do that, you need a medium that embraces time. TikTok does not embrace time. So this means something like podcasting, something like YouTube, something where you get a little longer time and that’s why I think those are the platforms that are probably going to burst in the future even more.
Mike, I want to ask you one final question before we wrap it up and ask you the final two questions that we always ask everybody on the show. You’re a big experimenter, but you’re also a rigorous businessman. You run a really good organization. If budget didn’t matter and you had limitless personnel on your team, what would you do? What would be your marketing campaign that you would do if you could do whatever you wanted?
I would start a reality TV show and I would… I don’t know where I would publish it, but I would try to get it published somewhere where my audience is watching television, ideally maybe on Netflix, because there’s a lot of these cooking shows that are blowing up on Netflix. I would start some sort of a reality TV show that maybe puts a bunch of college students together, graduates right out of college with degrees in marketing together, and their job is to do what The Apprentice did. Their job is to use whatever means necessary to create campaigns for their clients. I think it would be… it’s got to be social, it’s got to be focused on social, and it would be really fascinating to see how they do it. Maybe season two I would put the youngees up against us gray-hairs. I just think it would be really fun to have a reality TV show on this, because I know for a fact that my audience would watch something like that if it was well-produced. That’s just something crazy I would do.
I love it and you know who actually has the budget to do that?
I love the [crosstalk 00:38:15]
Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
Yeah. Let’s partner man.
I think it’s actually an amazing idea.
I’m interested, let’s talk.
All the kids have to use Social Studio and all the Salesforce tools and that’s what they use to do it. I’m in.
Yeah. I think it would be really freaking cool. I don’t know where it would be distributed or what kind of deal that would look like, but I think people would find it fascinating. I don’t know, that’s just my crazy thought. You made me think hard on that.
I think it’s great. I think it’s great.
I can see the headline. The new marketers, live 8:00, or whenever, time shifted.
My daughter is a social media major at Boston University and has a lot of experience at the tender age of 21. She can be on the show. She will definitely-
Yeah, we have a panel of judges who will give them feedback. I think it would be really cool.
I like it.
I love it.
That’s a great answer. Mike, thanks again for being here as always. I want to see if your answer has changed in the last year or so. What one tip would you give somebody who’s looking to become a social pro, other than appearing on your new reality TV show sponsored by Salesforce Marketing Cloud?
Just get out there and start doing it. I mean the reality is nothing is going to make you a professional other than just doing it, tracking what’s working, stopping what isn’t working, and just keep doing it and doing it and doing it. That’s my answer. I don’t think that was my answer last year. So I would just say do the work, track the work, change the work that doesn’t work.
Yeah, I think that’s the piece that really bubbles up to me is track what works. I mean, you don’t have to guess in social media. The analytics are there. You have to bring the scientific method to it in a way that perhaps you didn’t have to in the past when competition wasn’t quite as stiff.
Yeah. I’m still excited about this reality TV show idea.
He’s all fired up. We should just try it. We should just try it ourselves on Facebook or something like that. We’ll figure it out. We can’t do video on Facebook. We’ve already decided we’re not going to do that. Last question for Mike Stelzner, proprietor, Grand Pooh-Bah of Social Media Examiner. Hope we’ll see a lot of Social Pros listeners at the conference this year. We’ll probably do a happy hour this year, we haven’t done it in a long time, but we’ll maybe do some sort of Social Pros meet up for our fans out there. That would be a lot of fun. Mike.
If you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be? Provided they have more than one million views on TikTok. No, I’m kidding.
Oh my gosh. You know… maybe the CEO of Disney. It’s Bog Iger, right? Isn’t that his name?
I think I’d love to talk to him and ask him how long did it take him to get this Disney+ thing going, how many arms did he have to twist and how in the world… what’s his actual plan considering that they got 60% stake in Hulu, that they own ABC television? And are they okay with actually television dying? Is their real plan to actually just say television is a dead medium and Disney is the future? I would love to get honest answers from him about that, because honestly, I think we’re just scratching the surface of what Disney’s got up their sleeve. They’re such a huge corporation and they’ve got so many resources that they could literally become the biggest player in this world. I’m surprised they didn’t get in earlier but I’d be fascinated to understand how hard it was to do this and how many executives had to be stuck in a room with a lock, like the ABC people saying, “Please don’t do this.” It’s literally the iPhone that killed the iPod. That’s what I would do.
That’s a great answer. It would be fascinating to have that conversation and you’re exactly right. I mean so many business books and speakers and consultants or whatever say, “Hey, disintermediate yourself before somebody does it to you.” Like ha, ha, ha Blockbuster wasn’t paying attention and Netflix came in. Disney’s actually doing it to themselves, right. That’s the whole idea. They’re like, “Okay.” They’ve said that they don’t expect a profit on Disney+ until 2017. Or 2027 I mean. Two years ago, it’s amazing. No, until 2027. It’s like yeah, we’re going to lose money on this for eight years. But it’s true. One of my clients is Comcast and we were at a Comcast presentation a couple weeks ago and Comcast of course owns NBC Universal and a number of other television assets. They’re a big competitor of Disney’s and Comcast cable, the actual Xfinity system, has commercial skipping technology built into it. So you just press one button and it automatically skips all the commercials and they own NBC.
Now you talk about doing something that’s customer focused regardless of the fact that it is in stark opposition to the business outcomes of another division, I mean that’s just how you have to operate these days.
It is crazy to think that probably in 10 to 15 years we’ll say, “Remember the days where there was networks?”
And 30-second ads.
It’s really, really exciting to be in the midst of this right now because, man, I’m telling you, we’re just getting started. I don’t know where Facebook fits into all this and all these other kind of billion dollar conglomerates, but this is… whatever’s coming is big. It ain’t over. Don’t be surprised if Microsoft gets into this game. I mean who knows what’s going to happen.
Yeah, I think LinkedIn’s still a sleeping giant.
Yeah. I’m excited. Thanks for getting me all excited, guys.
He’s all riled up. Can’t wait to see you at the big conference next year. If you haven’t spent any time over at Social Media Examiner lately, go do that. Go to their YouTube channel, it’s terrific. Great advice, great counsel there. You’ll like it very much. Mike, thanks for being back on the show. Next time it’s a silk kimono.
Look forward to it.
Friends, that is Mr. Mike Stelzner from Social Media Examiner. I am Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. He is Adam Brown from Salesforce Marketing Cloud. This has been Social Pros. Don’t forget, every single episode is available at socialpros.com, links to all kinds of bonus stuff, and you can get the show anywhere that you get your podcasts. On behalf of our sponsors, thanks so much for listening and we will see you next week.