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Why are many social media marketers still working from the 2015 playbook?


No one will question that the global pandemic has had far-reaching impacts on our daily lives–in just three short months.

It’s changed how we work.

It’s changed how we eat out.

It’s changed how (if) we travel.

But, it’s also changed how social media marketing is working–in quite a big way. And, in a very under-the-radar way.

However, even with these big changes in the first half of 2020, many social media marketers seem to still be working from the 2015 social media playbook.

What do I mean? Let’s look at four big shifts that have been happening in 2020 so far, and how I would argue most social media marketers have reacted:

Shift #1: Customers don’t want ‘storytelling’–they want exceptional customer service

Might not be the sexiest trend of 2020, but it has teeth. According to recent reports, marketers seem to be over-indexing on ‘storytelling’ as a strategy. Meanwhile, consumers seem to be screaming that they want better customer service!

As you can see above, “memorable content” and “compelling storytelling” are high on marketers’ priority list–but much lower on consumers. Meanwhile, “strong customer service is lower on marketers’ lists and higher on consumers’. This is probably not surprising given marketing is most likely ‘outsourcing’ customer service on social to the customer service teams (or, ignoring it altogether). Somewhere in the last five years, social became a lot more about ‘storytelling’ and pumping out content than it did about connecting with customers. If you think back to the early days of social, it was all about customer service, in a way. People were truly talking with brands (and other people). Brands were listening–and fixing problems online. Today? It’s become much more one-way in the form of “content marketing.” An entire industry has evolved around the concept! But, each time I see surveys like this, consumers still want good customer service on social–and it never seems to be a priority for marketers. In 2020, I would think now would be the time to change that.

Shift #2: TikTok officially becomes the fifth major social platform

TikTok has become social media’s darling of 2020. And, for good reason. The stats back it up. In March 2020, more than 28.8 million US adults (ages 18+) used the video-sharing app. That’s more than DOUBLE the roughly 14.2 million who used the app in March 2019.

And, it’s not just teens, who have reportedly flocked to the app. Recent reports say yes, 18-24 year-olds are the biggest demo on TikTok (39%). But, 25-34 year-olds make up 27% and 35-44 year-olds make up 15%. Heck, 55-64 year-olds make up 8% of the audience on TikTok! And, there’s purchase power there, too. 40% of users have a household income of 100k or more. Now, TikTok has a ways to go before it even comes close to overtaking Insta or Facebook, but I think it’s time to acknowledge the fact that it should now be listed as the fifth major social network. And, as a result, it’s time for social media marketers to start taking it A LOT more seriously.

Shift #3: Social ad spend (should be) shifting

According to recent reports, Facebook and Instagram were the the top two platforms where social marketers’  planned to spend social ad dollars in 2020. YouTube and LinkedIn were a distant third and fourth.

At the same time, a whopping 83% of social marketers had NO PLANS to spend ad dollars on the hottest social media platform of the year. And 73% said they have no plans to spend ad dollars on one of the most underrated social platforms (Pinterest).

Social media marketers have been investing in Facebook and Instagram for years. And, largely, it’s worked. But, with trust levels low on Facebook and major platforms like TikTok and Pinterest expanding ad options, 2020 seems like the time to be diversifying your ad plans–not sticking all your money in 2-3 platforms. I kinda look at it like investing in the stock market. Any good investment pro will tell your diversification is key. Same with social media ad planning. Why put all your eggs in a few baskets when there are so many viable options in 2020? Isn’t it time to hedge your bets?

Shift #4: Live video taking off

It’s no secret that live video is having a moment during the pandemic. In fact, Instagram Live usage has reportedly jumped 70% since the pandemic began.

And, brands have taken notice. Anecdotally, I’ve seen many brands experimenting with Insta Live the last few months. And, it seems like brands are planning on spending more time there, too. Instagram was the #1 platform brands planned to invest more in when it comes to video in 2020. Makes sense, right? But again, social marketers seem to be ignoring other huge video platforms with massive audiences. Networks like TikTok and Twitch. Large majorities of marketers said they had no plans to use either in 2020. Have these marketers seen the use stats on those two platforms lately? Especially among younger people? Why would you choose to ignore those in 2020? Why wouldn’t you start dipping your toe in the water with both to get a better feel? That feels a lot more 2020 than merely investing more in Instagram and YouTube.




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