Your Most Popular Marketing Channel is Likely the Least Effective

Your Most Popular Marketing Channel is Likely the Least Effective

June 20, 2024
Marketing Channel Social and SEO

Social media has become the go-to marketing channel for businesses of all sizes. With billions of active users across platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, it’s easy to see the appeal of organic social media marketing. You can build a presence, share content, engage with your audience, and even drive sales – all for free!

Research shows that despite being the most popular marketing channel, organic social media may actually be the least effective for driving real business results. Let’s dive into the data:

The State of Organic Social Media Marketing in 2024

To understand how businesses are really investing their marketing efforts, we surveyed 118 companies across different industries and sizes. We asked them to share what percentage of their total marketing budget and time was allocated to different channels.

The results were striking – a whopping 42% of respondents said that organic social media (posting on channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter without paid promotion) accounted for the majority of their marketing efforts.

In contrast, other marketing channels that are proven to drive better ROI were severely underutilized:

  • Only 18% prioritized SEO
  • 14% focused on email marketing
  • 11% invested in content marketing
  • 9% did paid social ads
  • 6% used other paid channels like PPC

So why are businesses still going all-in on organic social if other channels are more effective? The allure of the billions of users, the ability to build an audience for free, and maybe some lingering misunderstandings about how modern marketing really works.

The Hard Numbers on Marketing Channel Effectiveness

To gauge the actual effectiveness of different marketing channels, we turned to data from HubSpot’s State of Marketing Report for 2024. This comprehensive report analyzed the ROI, costs, and performance of various tactics used by thousands of businesses.

The results painted a very different picture from our survey. Organic social media ranked as the least effective marketing channel based on ROI:

  • SEO: 16%
  • Social media shopping tools: 16%
  • Paid social: 14%
  • Email marketing: 14%
  • Content marketing: 14%
  • Organic social: 8%

Let’s break down why the channels at the top outperformed organic social:

SEO: With 16% of businesses citing SEO as their most effective channel, it’s clear that investing in optimizing your website and content for organic search visibility pays off. SEO drives highly targeted traffic of people actively looking for your products/services.

Social shopping tools: The rise of social commerce has created new opportunities with 16% of businesses finding social shopping tools like Instagram Shopping to be their best channel. These allow you to seamlessly sell products through social platforms.

Paid social: While organic reach has plummeted, 14% of businesses see paid social ads as their most effective channel. The targeting capabilities allow you to get your offers in front of the right audience.

Email marketing: Another 14% found email to be their best channel. With email, you own your audience and can communicate 1-on-1 to drive engagement and sales.

Content marketing: Rounding out the top 5 at 14% is content marketing. Creating educational content helps build authority and trust with your audience.

So while organic social is “free,” businesses are finding much higher returns from channels that allow you to get your message in front of an audience that’s actively interested in what you offer.

The Declining Reach and Engagement of Organic Social Posts

One of the key reasons organic social has become one of the least effective marketing channels is the continual decline in reach and engagement for non-paid posts. Social networks have openly admitted to suppressing organic reach for business/brand accounts in order to drive ad revenue.

Let us look at these statistics on the state of organic reach and engagement in 2024:

  • Facebook organic reach is down to only 5.2% of your total page likes
  • Instagram feed post reach is estimated at just 15.8% of your followers
  • Twitter organic tweet impressions have dropped by 50% since 2020
  • LinkedIn organic post engagement rates average only 0.35%

With such low reach and engagement numbers, it’s extremely difficult for businesses to make an impact on social through organic posting alone. Your audience simply isn’t seeing your content unless you pay for promotion.

This makes sense from the social platforms’ perspective – they are for-profit businesses looking to generate revenue. But for businesses trying to use social for marketing, it creates an uphill battle when relying solely on organic tactics.

The Most Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy

If organic social media has become one of the least effective marketing channels, what’s the solution? The answer is taking a balanced, omni-channel approach.

The top businesses aren’t just posting randomly to social media and hoping for results. Instead, they use organic and paid social tactics as part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy that also includes:

  • SEO to increase website visibility in search
  • Email marketing to nurture leads and communicate promotions
  • Content marketing to build authority and trust
  • Paid advertising like PPC, paid social, etc. to get offers in front of the right audience
  • Leveraging tools like social shopping to turn social followers into customers

Within this broader strategy, organic social media still plays an important role for activities like:

  • Sharing your best content and driving traffic back to your website
  • Providing customer service and building relationships
  • Promoting your paid campaigns for increased reach
  • Showcasing your company culture and brand personality

But the data shows that relying on organic social alone is an ineffective strategy in 2024. The most successful businesses are taking a diversified approach across multiple channels to maximize their marketing impact and ROI.

Key Takeaways

Let’s summarize the key points on why your most popular marketing channel (organic social media) is likely your least effective:

  • Our survey found 42% of businesses prioritize organic social over other channels
  • However, data shows organic social delivers the worst ROI at only 8%
  • The most effective channels were SEO, social shopping tools, paid social, email, and content marketing
  • Organic social reach and engagement have plummeted due to algorithm changes
  • Top businesses use organic social as just one piece of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy

While organic social media is still important for activities like content promotion and brand building, the data clearly shows it should not be the primary focus of your marketing efforts. The businesses seeing the best results are investing in a diversified mix of channels like SEO, email marketing, paid advertising, and social commerce tools.

Take an objective look at where you’re allocating your marketing time and budget. You may find that doubling down on your most popular channel is actually holding you back from driving better results. An omni-channel approach that leverages the strengths of multiple marketing channels could be the key to unlocking new growth for your business.


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Mabuhay! We are a group of WordPress developers who delights in building profitable and secure websites for businesses.

Mabuhay! We are a group of WordPress developers who delights in building profitable and secure websites for businesses.

We have experience in working with different platforms, systems, and devices to create products that are secure, profitable and accessible.