Digital Marketing Trends, Part 2 of 5: Broadcast Social

As part of the daily curation I do with #the5, I get a chance from time to time to aggregate all the news I collect to look for trends. In the second of our 5 part series, we’re going to examine some current trends in digital marketing and what they mean for you. Today, we’re looking at…

Broadcast Social

Here are a few of the choice headlines in the last 7 months worth reflecting on:

The BBC launches Your Story, tying your Facebook timeline to news events
63% of Facebook/Twitter users get their news from social media
Facebook now lets you flag fake news
Google indexes tweets from higher social authority accounts more
Facebook’s Talks To Host Publishers’ Content Are Heating Up
FTC Puts Social Media Marketers On Notice With Updated Disclosure Guidelines

What we see here is nothing less than major social media channels attempting to become broadcast media. Users of these services now get their news from them. Social channels are the places that artists debut albums, TV shows premiere pilots and teasers, and advertisers spend like drunken sailors on shore leave.

Admit it, this reflects your viewing habits already.

What does this trend mean? Broadcast Social Media largely abandons the pretense of community in social media as part of main news feeds and timelines. Twitter looks more like a news ticker than it does a conversation. Pinterest and Instagram carousel ads look like catalog displays instead of conversations. Facebook’s eponymous News Feed is, well, a news feed.

There are certainly still plenty of places where community gathers; Facebook private groups, Linkedin Groups, etc. We haven’t lost those communities yet. But the main thrust of Broadcast Social is to behave like broadcast media.

How To Make Use of This Trend

Broadcast Social means rethinking where social media fits in your marketing funnel/customer journey. Instead of being lumped into one broad “social media” category, Broadcast Social means splitting your social media efforts into two different focus areas. The first area, community management, remains focused on engagement and building loyalty through conversation. The second area, your Broadcast Social team, focuses on broadcast media-like placements, advertising, and brand building/brand awareness.

Community management remains more in the middle of the funnel, behaving like email marketing to nurture and retain prospects and customers. Broadcast Social moves more towards the top of the funnel, behaving like other broadcast channels.

Finally, the change of social media to Broadcast Social changes how you measure social media. You can’t measure with one set of metrics any longer. By becoming a broadcast channel, Broadcast Social now has to be measured like other forms of broadcast media such as TV, radio, and print. It’s not inconceivable that we begin to measure Broadcast Social with something like digital GRPs (gross ratings points, how TV and radio are measured).

Stay tuned for the next trend in this series!

Digital Marketing Trends, Mid-2015 Edition
  1. Discontent Marketing
  2. Broadcast Social
  3. Video Games
  4. Make It Stick
  5. Winners and Losers

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What’s your actual social media reach?

One of the key metrics to pay attention to at the very top of the funnel is reach. How many people are you getting in front of on a regular basis?

Facebook fans, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections are all great and important as a very first step towards growing your presence. That said, how much of the audience you’ve accrued actually sees your stuff?

Here’s an example. In Twitter’s Analytics, this is the information we see by default:


So far, so good. Over 86 days, I accrued 1.2 million impressions. With 80,000+ followers, that works out to 14,000 impressions a day, or about 17.5% reach in aggregate.

But there are details and nuances. Above, I’ve highlighted how a recent tweet has performed. It’s accrued only 1,100 impressions. What if this is the more common scenario? How would we find out?

I downloaded my stats from Twitter (just push the Export CSV button) and plotted average impressions out on a line chart:


It looks like the median reach of my tweets on a daily basis is actually about 2,150 impressions. This tells a very different story: my actual reach for any given tweet is 2.69% of my audience size.

Imagine, if you’re trying to benchmark yourself against competitors, and you see a particularly fearsome competitor with a million followers, how much less fearsome they appear if only reach 26,900 of them?

What’s the antidote to this lack of reach? We of course know what the various social networks would like us to believe the antidote is:

Slackershot: Money

Beyond that, what else can you do? The simplest thing is to cross-pollinate; by sharing the same content on multiple networks, you can reach potentially different audiences. For example, if we examine my Google Analytics traffic, we see that Twitter generates slightly more than 2/3 of my social visits:


If I focused only on Twitter, I’d be missing 30%+ of my traffic from other networks. That’s why I typically will post the same content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. I also use email marketing to reinforce what I share socially, to ensure that content gets seen by as many people as possible.

If your social media program isn’t performing as well as you expect it to, take a look at your actual reach metrics. Find out just how many people are truly seeing your content, then test alternate methods and schedules to find what generates the best results for you.

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How does social media sharing impact the sharer?

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post over on the SHIFT blog about whether social media sharing matters. Jason Falls asked the following question in return:


I’m glad you asked! Logically, if you’re sharing someone else’s content, one would expect that you should see a greater lift in your engagement rates, in things like retweets and favorites, likes, comments, etc. Let’s see if that holds true.

I’ll start by downloading publicly available data about Jason’s Twitter usage, since Twitter’s data is the most accessible. From that data, I want to differentiate what’s owned media – his own content, going to or mentioning his Twitter account – and what’s not. This is a relatively straightforward Excel formula; if you’re a subscriber to my newsletter’s Premium Content, you’ll learn how in this Sunday’s issue.


This is a good start. We want to trim out any @replies that Jason has made and remove any Tweets that don’t contain any URLs, since the topic of discussion is the sharing of content, owned or otherwise.

When we condense all that data down and summarize it, does sharing other people’s content net you less engagement or more? Below is a chart of engagement (favorites and retweets) by owned media content (promoting your own stuff, in red) and shared content (in green):


For Jason, the answer is less; his own posts get more favorites and more retweets on average than posts he shares of other peoples’ stuff. This makes some amount of logical sense; after all, if people follow you for who you are, then they might engage more with your content.

Now, that might be just a case of a personal account. What about a brand? Let’s take the poster child of social media engagement, Oreo. What can we see in their public data about owned vs. shared content?

Oreo Engagement.jpg

Interesting that the difference is even more pronounced. Despite the constant mantra in social media marketing to share, share, share, we see that owned media content has performed better for driving engagement in two prominent examples.

As always, I’d urge you to examine your own metrics and data. Look how sharing impacts your social media engagement, then consider what and how you share to either improve shared media numbers, or double down on your owned media creation and sharing.

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