When businesses think about social media, they usually think about giants like Facebook and the vast audiences that come with them. But even having the greatest social media following in the world means nothing if it’s not translating into any kind of meaningful engagement, let alone adding to your company’s profitability. A branded social networking app helps companies create their own visions; companies create and empower their own visions; a far cry from the cacophony of digital noise in the world of mainstream social media.
Here are four reasons why a branded social networking app is better than Facebook groups:
#1. You’re in control of features and functionality
Back in 2018, Facebook rolled out a major update to its newsfeed algorithm which significantly reduced the visibility of organic (unpaid) posts from business pages in people’s newsfeeds. A year later, the company doubled down on those efforts to further limit the visibility of content published and shared by brands. The official reason was to make newsfeeds more personal, although there’s no denying it encourages companies to invest more in paid advertising too.
With your own social networking app, there aren’t any third parties to worry about, so you don’t have to worry about changes and updates that can jeopardise your entire community strategy. Instead, you have the freedom to choose the functions and features you want; those that align with your overarching mission and help people achieve the outcomes you desire. You also get to preserve your branding beyond mere logos and header images.
#2. People engage more when there’s less digital noise
To some social media marketers, Facebook likes are the panacea for all their challenges. The only problem is that they’re utterly meaningless. In fact, only 1% of people who like a business page will ever even visit it. The number of visitors who go on to become paying customers is far lower. People liking content is a quick and easy nod of approval at best. Even if that’s the case, there’s just too much going on in most people’s newsfeeds for them to remember you.
When it comes to social media marketing, less is more. Although most people on social media or online forum communities are ‘lurkers’ in that they prefer to consume content than actively engage in it or post their own, there’s very little chance of either happening when there are distractions coming from every direction. A branded social networking app, by contrast, is a smaller community driven by a clear and unified purpose. That value inspires people to get involved.
#3. Private communities add value to your brand
You’ll often hear claims that Facebook followers are worth at least $1 to your business, which is why an entire grey-area industry has grown up selling followers in the thousands. Despite being against Facebook’s rules, buying followers is sometimes touted as being a way to boost visibility and engagement fast. In reality, it’s nothing more than a manipulative and unethical tactic that usually results in being followed by thousands of fake profiles powered by robots.
Real value comes from real engagement, whether in the form of feedback, product ideation, or content that helps drive customer success. All these factors help brands develop a better product or service and turn customers into brand advocates. That, in turn, adds more value to your brand than any other tactic in existence. After all, what’s more valuable – an influential brand advocate or a fake profile of someone who doesn’t exist?
#4. Brand communities can be more authentic
Our previous point taps into the fact that fakery on mainstream social media is a constant and growing problem. Facebook is fighting an ongoing battle against fake profiles, having disabled almost 600 million fake accounts in the first quarter of 2018. But even if fake profiles weren’t a concern, there’s nothing authentic about the average social media following, simply because people don’t tend to engage in any meaningful way.
The interactions between members of smaller, goal-driven communities are far more authentic because they often offer actionable advice and tap into the inherent human need to socialise. It’s social media as opposed to antisocial media that’s a more apt description of many of the major social networks. People are far more likely to be influenced by others when there’s a clear exchange of value, which is what functional online communities are all about.