Social media marketing used to mean simply crafting quality updates and scheduling them to post regularly. Then you’d monitor as followers saw and interacted with your content – or not.

Today that model is a thing of the past. Yes, many brands still rely heavily on it, but it simply is not very effective, particularly on Facebook. In large part, this is true because of the recent Facebook algorithm update, but it’s a trend that’s been in the works for a while now.  If you’re wondering why your audience suddenly seems less engaged, it’s likely because your content has become significantly less visible to them. Without paying to boost your Facebook updates, your audience is not receiving them.

The most recent change to Facebook’s algorithm, which happened in late August, altered the way the Facebook newsfeed displays content. It now favors more “timely” content – content that people are currently engaging in conversations about.

Here’s what Facebook has to say: “Our goal is to show the right content to the right people at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them.”

If your page isn’t showing the “right” content to the “right” people at the “right” time, it likely won’t get displayed on their newsfeed at all. Not surprisingly, this is causing those standard scheduled posts to plummet in terms of views and engagement.

But this isn’t a new trend, nor just impacting Facebook. Organic reach for businesses has been plummeting for years. In April, Entrepreneur reported that many larger companies saw their reach fall from 16% to 2% in the past two years. Those are pretty abysmal numbers, and I can’t even imagine how low that 2% dropped on Facebook after their latest algorithm update. I’ve experienced this drop in effectiveness for my mid- to small-sized business clients as well. What worked well just a few years ago isn’t even making a dent today.

Across the social media landscape, you see signs that all networks will move to this model, relying more heavily on a ranking model for content that is a hybrid publishing model of both organic and advertising content with the common traits of timeliness and relativity for a specific audience.

Here is the upside: Businesses have access to more powerful targeting tools. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, they’re all allowing us access to the wealth of data they’ve collected about their users, which means you can get very granular when targeting ads: location, interests, marital status, number of kids, job title, homeownership, and so much more. You can ensure you are only talking to the people you want to reach.

But it begs the question: what’s the next step for social media marketing? How do you effectively show the “right” content to the “right” people at the “right” time in order to engage in a conversation? Even if you’re relying on ads to help close your engagement gap, the effectiveness is likely to be significantly higher if you can post content that’s relevant to conversations as they happen.

The Current State of Social Media Marketing: It’s the Wild, Wild West – Again

There’s no question that this shift is being recognized as an opportunity by investors and entrepreneurs. The number of social media analytics tools and platforms available is astronomical. It’s a highly saturated field with a large number of start-ups, companies still in Beta, and those seeking venture funding (or their second round of venture funding).

Each social media tool is using that social data to accomplish different things – from Geofencing, “listening”, “engagement”, publishing, applying predictive analytics to determine intent, to social TV at live events – though there’s still a large amount of overlap between the functionality these platforms are providing. It’s a field where there is a huge shake-out coming in the future, and I haven’t seen anything like this since the 90s when everyone was jumping into the internet game by building a website.

Every platform wants to take that new data being provided by Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, aggregate it, and become the dashboard. Like many, I’ve been on a quest to find the most forward-thinking tool, researching dozens of them and receiving demos from more than 30 platforms.
Here is the biggest issue I’ve seen so far: most platform developers are not as focused on the use case scenario as they should be. They’re trying to figure out what people will pay for, not how to make it most effective for them. Instead, most platforms simply process that data, put it into an interface, and provide reports.

Social networks by their very nature are organic, and the conversations that ebb and flow within them are organic. To have an effective organic social media campaign, you can no longer simply send a message out there and hope someone latches onto it. Reports are great to help you react, but in this game, you need to be proactive. You need to participate in conversations with your target group as they are emerging, in “almost real time”.

Most platforms are not yet providing actionable advice. What’s creating engagement at a given moment for “sporting goods” or “real estate” with 35-50 year olds in the northeastern USA? How can we effectively harness that engagement at the time that it happens and intelligently build branded relationships? From my viewpoint:

The winners will go the next step to identify qualified leads using sentiment and intent through predictive analytics and then automate the publishing process.”

Some open questions, but here are a few of the tools that I think are the most interesting right now:

Social Flow

This is the best tool I’ve seen for smart publishing. The platform has developed an algorithm that uses historical information in smart ways to determine early trends and emerging content topics. There are two main ways to ensure the social media content you publish is at its most effective.

The first: you can create multiple updates and load them into the system. Social Flow will track current conversations, and when it sees that a conversation is emerging related to one of those updates you’ve already crafted, it will immediately inject it into the conversation. You can see in real time how your updates are constantly being rescored accordingly to the changing social media landscape.

And the second way is that you can click on a current topic that’s trending and use it to create an ad in real time that leverages the topic while it’s still on-going.

In effect, it’s doing what the newest Facebook algorithm aims to do: share the “right” content to the “right” people at the “right” time.

The major drawback, for many, is cost. At $2,000 per month and up, it simply isn’t cost-effective for many small to mid-sized businesses, though one way to bring that cost down is to work with an internet marketing consultant who can manage multiple client accounts at that rate.


Want to stay on top of your brand’s reputation? What’s going on in your industry? This is a good tool with a slick interface, perhaps the slickest. It tracks all mentions of a particular keyword or keywords that you provide.

You can track consumer sentiment as it emerges. Instead of working with outdated information, you have access to up-to-the-minute data that’s so crucial in the fast-paced world of social media.

It also helps you track trending URLs, hashtags, keywords, concepts, and comments. You’re provided with a snapshot of what people are saying about your business or your industry right now, as well as data on individual users who made particular comments. It makes it much easier to notice and jump into a conversation as it is occurring.

The charge is by mention, making it a more affordable solution for small to mid-sized companies who can track the limited area around their business. But the downside is that it requires more active monitoring for businesses, and it also involves more guesswork. This tool costs about $500 per month and up.


This tool is a powerful way to take immediate action when a consumer interacts with you or starts a conversation. It’s also a powerful tool for general productivity, although I won’t get into that too much here.

IFTTT (pronounced like “gift” but without the “g”) stands for “If this… then that.” It’s a simple “recipe” that allows you to connect two tools you already use. So for example, you can set up the following recipe, “If you are mentioned in a tweet, then you receive an email.” This provides you with another way to stay on top of conversations even when you might not be connected to Twitter. Another example: you can set a recipe to post your Instagram photos as native Twitter photos.

Those are very simple examples, but IFTTT allows you to connect 160 different channels, including all the major social networks. This helps you to take immediate action automatically in response to interactions and conversations on social media using the channel that makes the most sense for your business. The key is finding the right strategy for your target audience.


This is my favorite tool for listening. Viralheat’s comprehensive monitoring tool lets you run competitive analysis, reputation management, and brand management. The analytics offered by Viralheat are robust, empowering you to both measure and also assign meaning to your social metrics.

Not only can you set up your own custom keyword searches to track what’s being said about your brand, products, or services, but Viralheat takes it a step further, allowing you to compare, combine, and analyze sentiment trends. These searches can also be used to stay on top of trends related to your industry and your competition.

Viralheat also offers content intelligence, providing guidance on when to deliver content across social channels to amplify its reach. Enterprise pricing.

Little Bird

The key to any social media strategy is getting your content in front of influencers and brand advocates. But how do you effectively identify and engage with these individuals? That’s where Little Bird comes in.

Many products claim to do this, but I’ve found that the results are often way off target. Little Bird gets your input to ensure it’s on the right track, providing you with three examples of Insiders it’s identified. Then it uses its algorithm to extrapolate from that information a much larger network that you can tap into.

One of my favorite features of the tool is the daily mission. When turned on, you’ll receive an email every day with advice on action to take to help expand your reach, such as users to follow, content to share, or conversations to join.


This low-cost discovery tool is highly effective for content curation strategies. You input your terms or select from their suggestions, and you’ll receive a dashboard of suggested content.

What makes the dashboard unique is how that content is labeled for you. Most content discovery tools are limited to sharing content based on the keywords you provide, but Swayy also shares content based on your community and what’s already trending in your circle. This can help you identify content that’s relevant in your area – powerful for location-based businesses – as well as jump more quickly into conversations as they are occurring.

The Future: Social Media and Content Distribution

We’re not there yet, but I suspect it will be predictive analytics with content selection and content distribution based on artificial intelligence. If we know the specific areas of interest of a target audience, and can determine through smart presence detection who is online and/or their historical response patterns, we can use natural language processing to proactively assign social interactions to optimize response rates, engagement, and reach.

The current tools for social media are extensive – and they’re continually changing and improving. At Location Traffic, we consider ourselves tool agnostic. Instead we’re remaining aware of the trends and staying on top of the latest advances, so our clients can take advantage of the best ways to generate leads using social media at any given time.