Why does Forrester Research say social media marketing is a waste of time?

While most brand marketers are using Facebook and Twitter as the centrepiece of their marketing strategies, organic reach on the sites is so poor they may be wasting their time, according to a new report from Forrester Research.

  • In February, Ogilvy reported that even the Facebook posts by top brands only reached two per cent of their fans. That’s not surprising, since Facebook updated its algorithm the previous year to neglect posts from company pages (which many feel is to encourage more spending on ads). Just last week, Facebook announced that it will be further cracking down on posts that appear promotional in nature.
  • Engagement on Facebook is even worse, with only .073 per cent (yes, less than one per cent) of top brands Facebook fans interacting with a post on average. On Twitter, the average interaction rate is .035 per cent.
  • Companies that build their own sites with social feature see the best results. Sony drew 4.5 million hits to its micro-site promoting the Sony PlayStation.
  • Instagram and Pinterest may offer the highest engagement of all social networks, with Instagram showing a rate 58 times higher than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.

Social houses can’t be left empty

The Forrester report is a good wake-up call that are too heavily relying on blanket social media posts to drive brand engagement. Social media posts should be one part of a wider content strategy that draws in an audience. While just posting a message to a Facebook wall or Twitter feed may not get very good engagement on average, there are other ways to talk to your audience on those channels. Methods such as organizing a Twitter chat can lead to a concentrated burst of engagement around your brand that you wouldn’t see otherwise.

Marketers can’t simply ignore Facebook and Twitter, because of the sheer amount of visitors the sites see and the amount of time spent there by those visitors. But they should have more advanced strategies than just posting content and hoping for engagement.


Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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