The rise of social media has brought the concept of brand communities to the fore. Especially recently. Almost every household or well-known brand in the world now has a presence and following on social media. But is social media bad for business?
Brands, companies, groups and celebrities are using social media to build up a following and share updates, information and new releases with their fans. The idea here is that this will create a brand community and gather a group of people around a brand at the centre.
For a lot of companies, this appears to have been a real success. Larger, well-known companies have built up huge followings on social media. Nike has 29 million followers on Facebook. Google has a following of 20.1 million people on Twitter. Selena Gomez has a following of 134 million people on Instagram.
Those numbers sound really impressive. And they’re the numbers that a lot of companies have been focusing on for their social media marketing strategy.
But, what those numbers don’t – and can’t – tell you, is how many of those people you’ll actually reach. Well, recent stories in the news media have suggested that, on average, on social media you’ll only ever reach approximately 6% of your targeted audience. Some publishers have reported organic reach levels on Facebook as low as 2%!
So, what does this mean?
Essentially, this means that social media bad for business, if you try to reach people and create a real sense of community.
1. Falling organic reach
Forking over some cash is the only way to ensure you online community will see your posts show up in their feeds. According to a recent article published in Forbes Magazine, only 4% of followers see a page’s organic posts over Facebook. Twitter obviously operates much differently than Facebook, but is far less effective as far as ensuring a publisher’s content will be viewed by their followers.
There are now loads of how-to guides (like this one) telling publishers how to “game” the system by posting content at just the right moment to increase chances of their tweets being seen. Essentially, the major social media players have converted their platforms into pay-to-play schemes that have needlessly complicated and, in many cases, severed publisher-community relationships.
It’s clear to anyone paying attention that major social media platforms aren’t working in the free users’ interest anymore. Yes, they’re turning a hefty profit, but for users and publishers––the lifeblood of social media––the current state of things is simply not sustainable.
Every publisher should create a social media app because there’s a massive cultural shift happening right now. And it’s leaving everyday people wanting new options for uncomplicated, uncontroversial and free digital connection. This important shift represents a huge opportunity for creatives, brands and community leaders.
2. The algorithms are complicated
This is firstly due to the way that algorithms of big social media platforms serve content to your existing and potential customers on their news feeds. As you may have read about recently, these algorithms are always changing. Mark Zuckerberg just announced that content from publishers would be deprioritised in order to make more space for content from friends and family. So, quite often, algorithms are stopping your content from reaching your intended audience.
3. There are too many distractions
This is due, in part, to the number of distractions and other brands competing for space on big social media platforms. Paid content and advertising is prioritised over organic content. Other brands are always competing with you for space. And you need to play by someone else’s rules in order to reach the people you want to speak to.
4. Communication is one-directional
Another factor why many people think that social media bad for business is just the nature of big social media platforms. The flow of information on any social media platform is one-directional. You, as the brand or content publisher, write a post and send it off into the ether, hoping it lands on your followers’ news feeds. They can then Like, Comment or Share/Re-Tweet/Re-Gram your message. But this isn’t a conversation. This is just a series of individual comments and actions that don’t really promote meaningful interaction and community spirit.
5. No monetisation options
One of the reasons why influencers believe that social media bad for business is the lack of monetisation options. You can have thousands of followers on Instagram, but this doesn’t pay the bills. Indeed, many influencers are using sponsorship promotions to get some extra cash, but there is only a limited number of promotional posts you can put out there before your followers start to unsubscribe.
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