How Social Media Managers Turn the Economic Downturn Into Gold

In times of economic downturn, social media managers have a unique opportunity to leverage their skills and turn adversity into success. While a challenging economic climate may present obstacles, it also offers a fertile ground for creative strategies and innovative approaches to thrive in the digital realm.

In this article, we’ll explore how social media managers can transform the economic downturn into a golden opportunity for their brands and clients.

Agorapulse recently hosted a webinar called How Savvy Marketers Turn Economic Downturns into Growth Gold. Agorapulse CMO Darryl Praill, Sangram Vajre, and Judd Borakove from GTM Partners discussed:

  • What’s keeping your stakeholders up at night–and how you can help
  • How to use data to get more out of your current budget and bandwidth
  • The benefits of adjusting your strategies based on real-time data
  • What leadership wants to know … and when
  • How to attribute your social media campaign impact to top-line revenue

74% of advertisers said the economic downturn is influencing their 2023 budget decisions. And most marketers surveyed said their budgets and social media marketing costs are under heavy scrutiny.

Tighter budgets and shifting marketing priorities impacts social media marketers who might notice some tangible changes.

Let’s look at these social media manager challenges and some possible solutions that can help turn economic downturns into gold.

With budget and staffing cuts, social media managers might find themselves tasked with other roles like content writing and advertising. For those working in small organizations, this might not be a social media challenge. They have probably acquired or utilized a wider marketing skillset anyway.

But for those in big organizations with historically large marketing departments, this may be a big shift.

Turn your gifts into gold

When Contentworks Agency began, we didn’t have any staff or the budget for marketing tools. We created our own images using tools like Canva, GIFs with Giphy, and, of course, the basic version of Agorapulse which is licensed per user.

That taught us several things.

The value of each piece of software we later added to our social media armory. And the ability to learn skills that lay outside of social media management.

Not for a second am I suggesting that we don’t need professional designers and videographers in our lives! Or that Canva is better than having an in-house designer. But if budget cuts are underway, it’s wise for social media managers to upskill or showcase their wider skillsets.

Tip: Expanding your understanding of social media marketing tools also expands your employability. Update your LinkedIn or resume, and showcase your knowledge repertoire.

As Agorapulse CMO Darryl states:

Growth isn’t always about accolades, pay raises, and awards. It’s about flexing muscles you haven’t flexed before. Now, I’m going to ask you to be a data scientist.

The likelihood is that expectations for results will remain the same, but budget will be reduced.

Social media managers are left trying to bridge the gap between budget and results. This might mean restrategizing your spend, analyzing your most lucrative channels, and pulling budget away from non-performing vanity campaigns.

Turn it into gold

If your social media budget is being reduced, run through this checklist with key stakeholders.

After all, a significant budget reduction warrants a fresh look at your strategy and social media KPIs.

  • Review your marketing budget. Get confirmation on the new budget and compare it with your old one for reference.
  • Switch to free tools where you can. Run through all the licenses you’re paying for and review what you need. If you can save budget on tools then you might not need to make so many cuts on advertising or human resources.
  • Focus on user-generated content. UGC is free and performs really well on social media. 76% of people say they trust content shared by “normal people” over brand content. If you’re not already focusing on building strong communities with a UGC focus, now is the time.
  • Review your top performing content. Pull off an Agorapulse report on your social media content to see the channels and content performing best. If a channel isn’t performing, then pull budget away from it. The same goes for non-performing content.

For example, here is our Facebook performance:

top content performance

Versus Twitter for the same period which clearly shows that Twitter isn’t performing in the same way for content engagement. It also shows that the content favored on Twitter isn’t likely to generate any leads.

top content on twitter
  • Double-up on performing content. If you can see that certain campaigns or content types have produced dollar ROI, focus on creating more like them. Similarly, if campaigns have flopped (we’ve all had them) then don’t keep repeating the same mistakes. Marketers should aim for a return on investment (ROI) of at least 3:1 for social media advertising. So, for every dollar spent on advertising, the brand should earn three dollars in revenue.

3. Refocused priorities

Stakeholders might turn their attention to funnel health, bookings versus demos, sales and conversion rates, customer experience/churn, growth involving new products and revenue streams, Net revenue retention (NRR) and Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR).

That presents social media manager challenges as social media managers struggle to understand and align these values with their existing KPIs. Or indeed, to align them with metrics they can track.

Social media managers have, for years, focused on their own set of metrics while CMOs and stakeholders focus on a whole other set. That could, in itself, be a mistake we all made.

Turn it into gold

Become an expert in financial acronyms. Don’t be daunted by terminology you don’t understand. It’s OK to not know it all.

Spend time with stakeholders to understand what acronyms like NRR and ARR mean and how they impact the business.

Improving your understanding of the financial side of the business can only be a good thing. Another advantage is that you’re making valuable connections with stakeholders who can propel you further in this, or your next position.

Agorapulse provides an ROI calculator inside its dashboard, but you must set the parameters correctly.

social media roi

Ask your stakeholders to work with you to learn financial acronyms, set social media metrics, and deliver accurate social media ROI reports.

Tip: Build good relationships. Think of networking as the way to build your career/growth throughout your entire career and keep it going. Not just when you are in an emergency situation.

free demo for agorapulse social media management tool

4. Panic marketing

Social media manager challenges also include pivoting to new marketing strategies laid out by stakeholders. These might appear very rushed and misaligned with the usual planning and preparation.

You might be in panic marketing mode if your organization has shiny object syndrome. For example, a stakeholder has heard about a new marketing campaign/technique at a conference or seen a competitor do it. Now, stakeholders want you to immediately implement it, even if it doesn’t fit with your strategy. The absence of a high-level strategy or goals for departments (Sales, Marketing, etc.) can be the foundation for panic marketing. It is made worse by a marketing team that isn’t empowered to push back when they need to or prove the data.

Another reason for panic marketing can be a lack of confidence in a CMO. 150 Fortune 3000 CEOs from 13 industries were surveyed. Only 34% said they have great confidence in their CMOs. 38% of the respondents said it was because CMOs have the wrong skill set for the changing marketing environment.

Turn it into gold

Remaining open to new ideas can be difficult, but the end focus needs to be on delivering social media ROI. Does the new shiny object fit with your brand? Will it deliver ROI? These are the key areas to address.

Getting into the mindset of an ROI-driven stakeholder is important to avoid conflicts, standoffs, and eventually staff layoffs. In my opinion, focusing on the data and removing the emotions is key here. Data is your central source of truth.

TIP: By utilizing Agorapulse, you can run a split test on the new shiny object idea instead of dismissing it entirely. Data doesn’t lie, and you can clearly showcase if something works or doesn’t. Always track your URLs and link your Agorapulse panel to your Google Analytics to track the entire funnel. If you’re being compared to competitors, you can measure that in Agorapulse, too.

If you want more insights, check out the webinar How Savvy Marketers Turn Economic Downturns into Growth Gold. My key takeaway from Darryl, Sangram, and Judd is that data is the unifying factor between social media managers and stakeholders.

Improving the financial outcome of a brand and avoiding marketing layoffs may all come down to understanding financial funnels and finding the ROI sweet spot in your social media marketing.

Another takeaway is that it’s never too late to learn new things. Don’t label yourself as “not good with numbers” when you might be the next social media data expert.

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