John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Gusto, modern, easy payroll benefits for small businesses across the country. And because you’re a listener, you get three months free when you run your first payroll. Find out at gusto.com/tape.
John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Michael Stelzner. He is the founder of Social Media Examiner and the producer of Social Media Marketing World, a great conference for pretty much anybody in marketing. So Mike, thanks for joining me.
Mike Stelzner: Thanks for having me back, John.
John Jantsch: Yeah, back. This is… I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m having people on third and fourth time. I bet I had you on for your book White Papers, didn’t I?
Mike Stelzner: I don’t really know, but I think this has got to be at least my third time on the show.
John Jantsch: I really… I remember… When would that have been? 2008?
Mike Stelzner: The paper thing? Man, that’s a long time ago.
John Jantsch: I know.
Mike Stelzner: We’re talking like 2006-ish, 2007.
John Jantsch: Well, I’ve been doing the show that long, so I’m going to have to go look that up. I’m probably the only person who has had you on to talk about that on a podcast and then back about trends in social media 2020.
Mike Stelzner: I think that’s probably a fair statement.
John Jantsch: And you’ve been doing your podcast for how long?
Mike Stelzner: Seven and a half years almost. It’s crazy.
John Jantsch: Yeah. Yeah. And you know, it’s funny, I’m already getting us off topic here, but it’s just amazing how much podcasting has taken off and I’m actually calling audio content kind of a trend for 2020, even though it’s been around. I think it’s just going to just go crazy in 2020.
Mike Stelzner: I’m with you 100%. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Spotify bought Gimlet and Anchor and Apple also reinvigorated all their apps, so I would say for sure there’s a big, big move towards new people starting to listen to this stuff you and I have been doing for a long time.
John Jantsch: And where do you come down on stuff like the Alexa skills and flash briefings and stuff? Do you think a lot of mainstream podcasters are going to start using those as distribution channels?
Mike Stelzner: Well, to be honest with you, we tried it for nine months and we saw almost nothing. So either we were really way too early to the game and we’re talking, we decided to shut that down about six months ago. I don’t think most people are going to use the smart speakers for the kinds of things that they do here. So until I think people start using it for something other than utilitarian purposes, I’m not sure that’s going to be as big a deal as podcasting.
John Jantsch: Yeah. Well, it’s funny because, again, when I started podcasting, it was so hard to get people, to show people how to listen to a podcast, which obviously now that’s every smartphone comes equipped with it and there’s all these places like Spotify. But I have to think that at some point the smart speakers are going to get easier that way. But again, you might’ve been early.
Mike Stelzner: Well, what’s fascinating is most people don’t even know you can ask. If you have an iPhone, you can ask it to tell you the news and it will ask you who’s your preferred news provider, NPR, Fox, or CNN. They’ll give you the news. Most people don’t even know that.
John Jantsch: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re right, you’re right. So let’s talk about 2020. You follow… you interact with the brightest minds in social media, you follow it yourself, you write about it yourself. So I wanted to kind of do a show on just where you see we’re going. So I’ve got a couple of specific things. We already got into one, but are there kind of your overarching trends for 2020 for social media?
Mike Stelzner: Yeah, there’s a couple of things. First of all, we’re seeing rising ad costs, on Facebook in particular and Instagram, mostly because right now during the holidays, but also because it’s going to be an election year. So you can see a lot of ad inventory be taken up by political candidates, which is going to… and you also have a limited amount of inventory and a rising number of advertisers. Mark Zuckerberg recently said seven million active advertisers are on the platforms competing for limited space. So the ad costs are rising, and as a result a lot of marketers are looking for organic activities. And the areas where we’re seeing a lot of organic growth is on Instagram and also on YouTube.
Mike Stelzner: So I think we’re seeing the rise of very short form video in the case of stories on Instagram and Facebook and also a rise of the number of people utilizing YouTube. You’ve got over a billion daily active users on YouTube with an average session duration of like 27 minutes. So I think both of these things represent big organic activities that are in the realm, the scary realm, John, of video marketing.
John Jantsch: Where do you see those two things fitting in? Like where does Instagram stories fit in for a typical marketer?
Mike Stelzner: Well, first of all, there’s lots of opportunities with Instagram stories because they show up at the top of the feed when you first open the app and in the middle and it’s just… For the small business marketer, it’s just a matter of showing up regularly and just talking about things like, “Hey, here’s what’s going on in the office. Or here’s the new product idea we’re working on, or here’s how we make what you buy, consumer X.” Or even day in the life kind of stuff, so these very short 15 second videos really are getting a lot of play on Instagram and it’s just a top of mind thing.
Mike Stelzner: As you know, John, one of the biggest challenges in this competitive space is being someone that others think of when they’re looking for a solution. You want them to think of your business. On the long form side of it, the benefit to YouTube is that people go there with the intent of watching video. Where an Instagram, they don’t always go there with the intent to watch video. So the benefit of YouTube is it’s a search engine and a lot of people forget about that.
Mike Stelzner: So if you can create answers to questions that people have, prospects have, and they’re searching YouTube and they find your video, then all of a sudden they might subscribe to your channel. They might go a little deeper and check out whatever it is that you do. So I think of YouTube as almost like the new Google search because a lot of people are watching video.
Mike Stelzner: And by the way John, this is part of a mega trend when you couple it with what’s going on with Disney+ and Apple+, two major multibillion dollar companies getting into the video streaming game. I think we’re seeing a mega trend here, which is longer form video consumption becoming like… We’re really in the age of long form video consumption, and it’s going to be one of the things that we’re going to look back on in history and say this is the age of literally digital television like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
John Jantsch: Yeah. You know, one of the things that a lot of people miss too is because so many people go to YouTube to ask it a question, I mean it’s like how do I do something is like the main thing, the related searches there for videos, it just a gold mine for SEO because that’s the stuff people are asking about and that’s the stuff you ought to kind of cement your entire content marketing of all forms around I think.
Mike Stelzner: Yeah, and an important point here, a lot of people like us that have been in this industry for a long time that have been bloggers like you and me, John, videos are the future of blogging. It really is. You can create video blogs that people will spend more time with than they will ever on your website reading your actual blog and when your face is in there, then they get to know you and like you, and those are some of the core principles to people doing business with you.
John Jantsch: Yeah and I think the days of somebody seeking out somebody’s blog, unless it’s on just a really very specific niche or something and reading long form content is probably behind us aren’t they?
Mike Stelzner: I would say yes, but I still get a lot of people, almost a million people a month coming to our blog or out there, in an industry that’s constantly changing and they’re searching. But the scary side of this, John, as you probably know, more than half of all Google searches result in no click. And this is because of that company, Amazon, you mentioned. The Alexa product is competing with the Google products and Google wants to give the single answer. We’re moving towards an era where traffic from search is becoming harder, therefore diversifying into video is another advantage there because it’s like a leg of the stool that so many of us have not built out yet.
John Jantsch: It drives me crazy sometimes. I’ll go out there and search for something and it takes me about five clicks on Google to get to the destination that I’m trying to get to.
Mike Stelzner: Yeah. You have to scroll down a lot if you’re on a mobile phone. It might be like, you could be in the number one slot, but you still have to scroll a couple screens because they’re doing everything in their power to provide you the answer so you don’t have to click.
John Jantsch: Well, and even beyond that. After this show publishes and you Google Duct Tape Marketing podcast, they’ll show our episode in the top search results because they figure that’s what you’re looking for. But guess where it takes you? To Google Play, not to the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, which I’m happy for the listener, but you know, they’re keeping people away.
Mike Stelzner: There you go. It makes sense. I mean, they’re just like Facebook. They want to keep people on property.
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John Jantsch: So let’s talk a little bit about how you see the maturing of social media. Again, we were both talking about this stuff when Twitter was founded, when people were going, “Oh, this is the next thing.” How do you see how social media has matured, just become a part of marketing, becomes a foundational element of a business’s plan? Where do you think we are in that?
Mike Stelzner: Believe it or not, I think we’ve gone back to where we were when we started. It’s kind of like things have come full circle. If you remember, John, back in the day with Twitter and with Facebook, there was no images, there was no video, it was just text. And Facebook is kind of driving everything back towards that by encouraging people to be active inside of groups. Why? Because they can mine that content, right? And they can use that content to sell to advertisers.
Mike Stelzner: So the key thing that a lot of social platforms are talking about is an engagement metric, right? So they want you to take some sort of an action, typically in an ideal world to share and/or a comment. And that’s kind of how it was back in the day. It wasn’t necessarily about you spending a lot of time necessarily consuming media on the platform. It was more about like you connecting with family, friends and it’s kind of moving back to that.
Mike Stelzner: And I think that that’s a good thing, because it’s going to be a little harder for people, like the bad marketers, to ruin the experience, right? Because that doesn’t scale, right? The idea that you’re going to have to engage with people does not scale. And as a result, those who are willing to invest in community development, which is obviously interacting with prospects and customers, are going to be the winners in the long run because in a world where somebody can create a fake persona and act like there’s somebody that they’re not and drive people to sites that are not real, it’s going to be the real people that are going to stand out and are going to thrive. And that’s going to be good news for small businesses because I think if we go back to the way it was, which was true interaction, then that’s how we develop and nurture relationships. So it’s literally coming full circle in my opinion.
John Jantsch: Do you feel that some people are fatigued by social media? Not the good uses you just described, but just the clutter?
Mike Stelzner: Yeah, for sure. The reality is that Facebook doesn’t even reveal the kind of data they used to reveal before because they’re aware of this, right? In the past, they used to talk about how many daily active users are on Facebook and how many were on Instagram. And now they just kind of combine it all together in one bar. And I think it’s because beyond the big seven or so social platforms, you’ve got all these little private communities that people are moving more towards.
Mike Stelzner: So we’re seeing obviously people interacting in private Facebook groups, we’re seeing people interact in apps that nobody’s ever heard of before, like Mighty Networks. And I think what’s happening is the aspect of community is strong, but the question of where you house your community is becoming more and more difficult, because I think consumers are more aware of the fact that there’s a lot of… like if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product, right? We’ve heard this a million times. So they’re moving to platforms where maybe they have to subscribe, but they know that their information won’t be used against them.
John Jantsch: You mentioned bad marketers. So let’s segue to messaging apps. Where do you see, obviously Messenger inside of Facebook, almost everybody’s got some messaging app on their phone that comes native, and then there’s a whole slug of all these other ones out there, where do they fit?
Mike Stelzner: Well, the hype cycle on this is crazy, John, because you know we do this annual report every year. And two years ago the interest in messenger bots was completely off the charts. Last year, the interest in messenger bots was not, it dropped dramatically. And we’re about to do our study here in a couple of weeks in early 2020 on this very same topic again. And I think what happened, a lot of people were sold on this idea that messenger bots are like email, but with better open rates. That lured them in, right? But then when they began working with bots, they began to realize, whoa, this is way more complicated than I thought. And that’s the truth and the reality of bots is that you practically have to learn a programming language, even if it’s drag and drop, and it’s super complicated and Facebook changes the rules all the time on what you can and cannot do.
Mike Stelzner: So I think bots can be really, really effective. But it’s just like anything else. It’s probably one of the most complicated things you can do so you have to probably hire an agency or consultant to do it for you, and that’s where it gets a little bit squirrely. We’ve tried two different bots twice and we ended up shutting both of them down because it was just this big old rabbit hole that we didn’t want to get into. Have you heard better things from others or have you also experienced?
John Jantsch: No. I think that they’re just extremely hard to do well. And if they’re not done well, they’re worse than not being done.
Mike Stelzner: Yeah. And the natural language processing isn’t there, so what ends up happening is you can type in a sentence, but it won’t understand what it is or it’ll wrongly interpret it. So I think we’re going to get there in the next couple of years as artificial intelligence on the natural language processing gets really, really good. But right now, there are some great tools out there and we have a whole track on it at our conference, but it is definitely one of the more complicated things that marketers are doing right now. And I think there’s upside, don’t get me wrong, but I think the hype was pretty crazy off the charts.
John Jantsch: I was listening to an NPR show and I won’t remember any of the names of the people, but they were talking about people who were very deep into this, into the technology of this industry. And they said, one of the scientists said that one of the dirty little secrets that people don’t realize is that where we are with a lot of AI right now is a lot of AI is actually being interpreted by humans in sweat shops all over the world. And that’s… the promise of this technology is just not there yet.
Mike Stelzner: Yeah, it’s kind of like… To be honest, what it is right now, it’s like when you call those toll free numbers and you have to push one to do this and two to do that. That’s literally where bots are right now, except instead of a one or two on your screen, it’s giving you buttons that you push and it’s just logic tree stuff. But where it gets really, really complicated is the fact that there’s all these regulations and rules put on by Facebook in particular that you’ve only got so much time to respond. I mean it can get really, really kludgy. So yeah, that’s definitely an area that I am not an expert in, but I’ve interviewed a lot who are experts, and my data shows that it’s probably one of those things that definitely could provide value, but you better have a decent sized team to focus on this because it could take you off focus of other more important things.
John Jantsch: So let’s talk about more important things like influencers. How do you see, again, the model of going out, finding people who have huge followings, big name brands out there, celebrities, I mean that’s gone on forever. Has social media democratized that a bit? In other words, a person that’s got 50,000 Instagram followers that you’ve never heard of and they’ve just been able to really dig into that platform and get some engagement is now an influencer. Talk to me a little bit about how you feel about that aspect of social media.
Mike Stelzner: Yeah. First of all, Instagram influencers in particular are in a world of trouble right now. John, if you haven’t heard, they removed in certain countries and in America I think it’s… I don’t know if it’s rolled out everywhere or if it’s in testing, but I don’t see the hearts anymore on the Instagram posts. I see it on my own, but my audience doesn’t see it. You just see if it was liked by… it just says and others really if I recall. I think what that’s doing is, because there’s so many young people on Instagram and they understand that this is definitely hurting the mental space of a lot of young people, but they also understand that this also could democratize, if you will, Instagram a little bit where everyone is perceived as equal.
Mike Stelzner: I don’t think the world of influencer marketing is going to survive in the long run in the way it is on Instagram. But I do believe that influence is important. So if I can explain that, it’s not about how many followers the world sees that you have, so the social proof side of it, isn’t I don’t think as important as it was. I think instead what’s important is whether or not you as a creator of any kind of content can yield influence on your audience, which has always been the case, right?
Mike Stelzner: John, you’ve got people that listen to your podcast and they hear about the things you talk about and they choose to act because you said that you believe this to be true. That is you yielding influence to your audience. And the real question is like whether or not that is an industry that can be monetizeable. I prefer instead to help people figure out how to yield their own influence on whatever platform they’re on and use that to help them grow their business, not rely on the influence of others. So I don’t believe necessarily, but I know it works. Don’t get me wrong. I know it does work for certain kinds of businesses as an accelerant, but I think it’s kind of one of those dangerous slippery slopes you’ve got to be careful of.
John Jantsch: So I’m trying to get Pat Mahomes to come on and talk about the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. That didn’t mean anything to you because you’re a San Diego Chargers fan probably.
Mike Stelzner: Yeah, it didn’t.
John Jantsch: Total blank. Sorry. He was last year’s MVP in the NFL. He’s the Chiefs quarterback. But clearly, you gave me within about half a second there that you were not an NFL fan.
Mike Stelzner: I’m not, but I’m sure that he’s amazing. But yeah, exactly. Like that’s the whole point, right? Like remember when Guy Kawasaki had millions of followers and everybody wanted Guy Kawasaki? Just a name that a lot of our audience is familiar with. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I mean, like the honest truth is that we all want people to advocate for us, and some are worth paying, but that concept has been around forever. Affiliate marketing, right? I mean that’s what built the back of affiliate marketing. So I just think that the influencer marketing world has got to really… I think it’s one of those things everyone’s running from right now because the bad rap of what’s come out of YouTube and Instagram, and I’m not talking about it because I don’t believe it’s important. I believe influence is important instead.
John Jantsch: Yeah. Remember magazine ads from the ’50s with the movie stars with a cigarette. I mean that was pretty much the same thing, wasn’t it?
Mike Stelzner: I would imagine so, yeah. I mean, and trust me, it does work. Obviously if you’re a super, super well known individual in the audience that you’re trying to target with, yes, I mean the idea of leveraging someone who is a celebrity. Celebrity endorsement is probably not dead ever, but the question is how do we label a celebrity? That’s really what we’re talking about.
John Jantsch: Yes. That’s a whole show by itself, isn’t it, Mike?
Mike Stelzner: Could be.
John Jantsch: You have, depending upon when people are listening to this, January 2020 probably-ish and beyond, but you have another edition of Social Media Marketing World coming up in San Diego. What is this the ninth year?
Mike Stelzner: Yeah, I think it’s our eighth and it’s March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. We’re really excited. It’s a different world for sure. I don’t remember, you’ve been to our event at least three times, right? Or four times or something like that?
John Jantsch: Five or six.
Mike Stelzner: Were you there at the very first year or did you come?
John Jantsch: I think I spoke there for the first four or five, six years, yeah.
Mike Stelzner: Yeah, so it’s really… It’s changed a lot since then. It’s got 16 tracks now covering everything you could possibly imagine, all the major social platforms. This year one of the cool things that we’ve got is four different tracks on video, video creation, video marketing, YouTube for business, and live video. Because that’s a big trend a lot of marketers are trying to understand and how to wrap their brain around. But yeah, thousands of people from all over the world will be coming as they always do, and many thousands also attend virtually. I’m pretty positive… yeah, it is definitely year eight.
John Jantsch: Yeah. And without a doubt, I’m sure there are metrics to back this up, the premier social media show for sure.
Mike Stelzner: Yeah. Last year we had 4700 people there and another couple thousand virtually. So definitely not the biggest marketing conference in the world. That would probably be like, I don’t know, maybe Inbound or something, but for sure for social media we’re the biggest.
John Jantsch: Yeah. Or Sales Dreamforce, if that’s considered a marketing one.
Mike Stelzner: Yeah, of course. It’s its own little animal.
John Jantsch: Pretty good sized one. Well, Mike it was great catching up with you as always. Appreciate you stopping by. People can find you at socialmediaexaminer.com and that’s of course where all the links to all the Social Media Marketing World and your report that you mentioned is always a great read every year.
Mike Stelzner: One last thing, if you have room in your dial, in addition to John’s podcast, you can check my podcast out also, which I don’t think I mentioned the name. It’s just called Social Media Marketing.
John Jantsch: Awesome. Appreciate it, Mike. Hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road soon.
Mike Stelzner: Thanks, John.