The analogy we often hear from community managers goes like this: “If you want to catch fish, go to where the fish are”. And there are 1.4 billion fish on Facebook every day. But the price of bait is rising and the regulations are always changing. So, why not to create your own social network?

OK, so we’ve continued the analogy a little bit. But, essentially, we’re saying two things. Firstly, the costs of advertising on big social media platforms is rising fast. And, secondly, that constantly shifting algorithms are always changing the way media is distributed, delivered and displayed.

At the root of these issues is the question of control. Big social media platforms are and will always be controlled by someone else.

So, what can brands do to regain control over their reach and distribution? At Disciple, we believe that the best solution to this problem is to create your own social network.

Something that belongs to you.

iPad

In this blog post, we’ll take you through why now is the time to create your own social network.

We’ll be looking at the following three things:

1. Three problems of social media that are driving brands away from their platforms.

2. What options, other than big social media, are available to brands?

3. Why creating your own social network is the best solution.

Let’s dive right in and look at three reasons why brands are leaving social media.

Problem 1: Reach is declining

It’s getting harder and more expensive to get through to your audience on big social media. News feeds are filled with clickbait and distractions, leaving brands to fight for attention.

The sheer volume of content means that social networks have to use algorithms to work out which posts to show to who. And these algorithms are always changing. Recent changes mean that you’ll now reach only 1-2% of your Facebook audience. Unless you spend valuable budget to boost your reach.

And social media advertising prices are rising fast. According to AdStage, in the first six months of 2017, the average price of 1,000 advertising impressions on Facebook increased by 171%. And the average cost per click rose 136%.

Here’s how creating your own social network with Disciple can solve Problem 1:

By creating your own social network, your brand can cut these costs without compromising on reach. Disciple’s app platform guarantees 100% reach to all brand community members with your app installed on their smartphones.

We deliver customised push notifications with your branding, logo and messaging right to the devices people engage with most.

Problem 2: Risk & Reputation

As we’ve mentioned above, social networks rely heavily on algorithms to place and deliver content. So, when you advertise on public social networks, you give algorithms control over where your content is placed and what it appears next to.

In recent YouTube scandals, paid brand content was placed alongside offensive, toxic content. This level of risk is unsustainable for brands. Algorithms, for now at least, simply cannot guarantee to place your brand alongside content that reflects your brand values. And this systemic failure has caused reputational damage and a loss of trust for a number of brands.

Here’s how creating your own social network with Disciple can solve Problem 2:

If you create your own social network, you no longer need to give algorithms control over your content placement because you don’t share media space with any other brands. The entire app ecosystem belongs to you and your brand, meaning that algorithms aren’t needed to deliver the right content to the right people.

Your content simply goes to your entire audience.

Problem 3: Ownership & Control

Brand pages on social media are known as “owned media”. But, in reality, it’s closer to rented media. You’re essentially renting media space and advertising reach from a platform that is owned and controlled by someone else.

This leaves brands without control and vulnerable to the shifting nature of social algorithms. A number of brands – such as LittleThings – were recently put out of business by a change to the Facebook algorithm, which deprioritised content from brands and publishers.

Brands also don’t own their audience data on big social networks. The platforms aggregate audience data and display it in specific formats, rather than giving you full access to the dataset. This stops you from taking that information elsewhere and reaching your audience via other platforms. Keeping you right where you are on their platforms.

Here’s how creating your own social network with Disciple can solve Problem 3:

Creating your own social network gives you something you own and control. At Disciple, we help you create your own social network that belongs entirely to you. Once it’s built, we hand over the keys and give you full control and ownership over your new mobile-first community space.

Our end of the bargain is to keep the platform running smoothly to give you the software and tools you need to gather, engage and monetise your community. How you do that is up to you.

Have a meeting to discuss ideas on how to create your own social network.

OK. So, what can brands do about all this?

It’s fair to say that brands do not own or control the social media platforms into which they’re investing so much. So, many brands are looking for alternative solutions that offer them greater control, ownership and return on investment. But what other options are there for brands?

Option 1: Move to other public social networks

Quora, Nextdoor and Meetup are three examples of smaller public social networks that brands are increasingly moving towards. The main appeal of these networks is that they’re less expensive and pose fewer risks to brand reputation.

But, moving to smaller networks doesn’t resolve the issue of ownership and control as these platforms are still owned and controlled by someone else. On these platforms, you’ll never be 100% in control of your content, your reach, your audience or your data.

Option 2: Build your own website

You can always buy your own domain and build your own website. The result is a branded, customised online space that belongs to and is fully controlled by you. So, building your own website resolves the issues of ownership and control.

But, it’s incredibly difficult and rare for brands to successfully replace their social media presence with their website. For all their value, websites remain a static, one-way broadcast tool.

Plus, consumers spend an average of 85% of their time on smartphones using native apps, leaving only 15% of their time for mobile web. And customers are increasingly expecting to interact with brands via their smartphones.

So, focusing all your effort on building a beautiful website may miss a big opportunity to reach your customers on the device they use most.

Option 3: Create your own social network

Creating your own social network is the comprehensive solution to the problems of social media. A number of companies, like us at Disciple, are building private social networks for brands seeking an owned, interactive space for their communities.

To create your social network, we start by taking the best features of social media. We turn them into tools that allow you to gather, engage, understand and monetise your audience. Then, we apply our philosophies of trust, transparency, safety and security to create a social network that belongs to you.

The result is a mobile-first community space on our secure, GDPR-compliant platform. Your own space in which to communicate and interact with your customers. Without all the hidden costs, complications, algorithms and distractions of social media.

Disciple brand communities

We’ve helped a number of brands by building them an owned, dedicated mobile space for their communities. A space where they can connect and build stronger connections with their customers. If you’d like to find out more about how we helped Luke Bryan and Troye Sivan build their own social networks, click here to find their stories on our blog.

Alternatively, if you’d like to find out more about how our platform can help you specifically, click here to submit some quick contact details. One of our community specialists can then get in touch with you directly to work out how we can best help you create your own social network.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let us know in the comments section below.