Social media will never work for you

 In business, Marketing

Social media does not work for you.  It works for its owners, which, these days, increasingly means its shareholders.  You don’t work for social media.  You use social media to further your business objectives.  Keep these realities in mind whenever you are considering any decision relating to your use of social media.  Here are some examples of what this means in practice.

Social media platforms want brands to “pay to play”

At present, social media platforms are largely dependent on advertising revenue.  This pays their bills and keeps the platforms free for the users with whom brands want to communicate.  It’s an open question as to whether or not the social media platforms will ever succeed in moving away from this business model.  YouTube is certainly trying but it’s noticeable that a lot of its effort has gone into making it easier for creators to collect donations from their followers, of which YouTube takes a percentage.

It’s hard to see how other platforms could replicate this idea.  Even if they could, it depends heavily on the goodwill and loyalty of larger creators, who have plenty of other options for collecting contributions such as Patreon and PayPal buttons.

A social media platform aims to keep people on the social media platform

The more time people spend on a social media platform, the more adverts and promoted posts can be fed to them and the more money the social media platform can make from them.  This means that social media platforms will typically only promote content with outbound links if they are paid, in cash, to do so.  By contrast, if a brand produces high-quality content to be consumed on the site (i.e. without outbound links) and the site’s algorithm notices that people seem to engage with it, there is a very good chance that it will be organically promoted.

You need your own system for measuring the success of your social media strategy

If you operate a brand account on social media, the chances are that you will have access to various metrics which, in theory, should allow you to judge the success of your social media strategy.  In practice, they are at best irrelevant and at worst misleading.  For example, producing content which gets a high level of views, likes, comments and shares probably does show that you’re creating impactful content, but it doesn’t show how the creation of that content is progressing your business targets.

At first glance, it may seem like common sense that content which gets a lot of engagement on social media is likely to be content which benefits your business, but this is not necessarily the case.  For example, a post could be objectively superb, hence the high engagement, but fail to include a proper call to action which encourages the viewer to do whatever it is you want them to do.  This is the sort of detail you may miss if you rely purely on the metrics provided by the platforms themselves.

In short, always remember that the social media platform only knows its own objectives, it doesn’t know yours, so it can’t measure them. 

New social media platforms are still emerging to challenge the old guard

Pinterest has been around for a while now, but it still has some way to go before it reaches the scale of the “big four”, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube (even though Facebook currently owns Instagram, which really makes it the “big three”).  Snapchat is younger but is also fairly well-established and defied fears about losing ground to Facebook and Instagram when they introduced “Stories”.  TikTok is the current young upstart and is enjoying huge popularity, especially with younger audiences.

Make sure that you consider which is the right platform for your business, where are your clients/customers? Otherwise you could be losing valuable time and internet presence.

If you need help or advice, please contact us.

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