When social media was in its infancy, it promised a revolution for brands. No longer would we simply push and pray, broadcasting our messages as far as possible and desperately hoping for resonance with our target consumers.

Now we would have rich, satisfying dialogues in social spaces, making meaningful connections with our customers and growing awareness, loyalty and of course, sales. However, as social platforms’ business models increasingly focus on their paid-for advertising, is this promise being realised any longer? Is social media still worth it?

Let’s look at Facebook as an example. As Mark Ritson points out, the social giant has drastically reduced the organic reach that brands are able to achieve by posting to their fans on brand pages. So instead, brands have to turn to Facebook advertising to reach their target consumers. This is not exactly how social media marketing was originally intended to be. We are exchanging enriching conversations and long lasting relationships for bursting into people’s social world’s with advertising. Indeed, is Facebook advertising any better or different to any other form of broadcast promotion?

Certainly, the shift in emphasis amongst social platforms towards paid-for models requires brands to re-think their strategies. However, perhaps unsurprisingly for a digital marketer, I still believe social media can be an incredibly valuable tool if used correctly. Here are three ways you can ensure a valuable social media presence, despite recent changes:

  1. Make the most of paid-for advertising. Unlike TV for example, Facebook advertising is extremely targeted. As we all know, Facebook has incredibly sophisticated data about its users which you can leverage to target your ads to new, highly relevant prospects. It is also very reasonably priced and therefore a great option for those with small marketing budgets.
  2. Don’t give up on your brand pages. These are stills hubs for your most loyal customers to explore your products and for you to listen to and learn from your fans. As such they are incredibly rich sources of insight and extremely effective retention tools. So make sure that your pages are packed with interesting, valuable content that your fans will want to share with their friends. And don’t forget to ask questions of your fan base and listen to their answers.
  3. Remember that social media can only ever be one part of the marketing mix. Like any other marketing tool, it should be used strategically, with a clearly defined purpose and in conjunction with other relevant channels.

So, don’t give up on social media just yet. But do think about your existing strategy on social, and whether it is fit for purpose given recent changes.