Is It Time to Rethink Social Media? Social media is not what it used to be. This, of course, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but it does require us to rethink it.
If we look at the basic premise of social media (you follow people and brands that you care about), it’s a behavior-based almost entirely on the influential side of the business.
So much, in fact, that in the early years of social media, we constantly argued that brands needed to be more unique and to focus on real value in order for them to build a valuable fan base.
In the beginning, Facebook was like all the other social networks, focusing mostly on influence and creating a platform for people to create connections. But over time, Facebook moved first into the more utilitarian zone (as our News Feeds starting filling up with extra posts), and today it has shifted into the traffic zone.
Facebook is not really a social network anymore. It’s not a place where you go to connect with things. Today, it’s much similar to a newspaper or a TV station. It’s a place that has a lot of traffic, and as a brand, you might be able to tap into that.
But you are not really connecting with people anymore. Facebook is not a place where you as a brand can have a meaningful two-way connection with your fans. When you post something to your Facebook page, you can no longer have any expectation that this would actually mean anything (and have more than 2 – 3% of your fan base see your post).
Of course, there are always exceptions, but Facebook as a social channel (I’m sorry to be so blunt) is crap. It is better than nothing, but it’s still crap. Instead, Facebook is now a traffic channel, just like traditional media and TV. It’s a place where they use their volume to expose people to a random selection of posts, some of which might be yours (but often not).
As a brand, you have zero control over this, just like the gas station on the highway doesn’t control the flow of traffic that drives by them. Facebook has become the highway where people are not really paying that much attention to what they are passing along the way. But it’s not just Facebook that is changing this way.
All social networks are drifting in the same direction. Twitter’s push into TV and recently adding extra posts and editing your stream is heading in the same direction. The problem with all of this is that while it theoretically increases reach and exposure, it also takes away all the value that is social.
When you see an app like Facebook Paper, for instance, it’s the highway focus on traffic. In terms of Facebook, this means you need to rethink what it is. Don’t think of Facebook as a place to create a long term social connection based on loyal fans.
Think of Facebook as an advertising platform with a social element to it. And don’t just think about it as display ads either. Facebook is a native advertising platform, the same way as many newspapers and magazines are also turning into native advertising platforms.
The role of your Facebook page is not really to connect with your fans. It’s to be the source of your native Facebook ads AND to pixel and retarget your website traffic (more on pixels next week). If that platform fits well with your brand, use it.
This week – focus not on your fan base on Facebook, but focus on re-directing them to your website content.