What I’m trying to establish in this blog is – the dynamic nature of social media marketing, the latest challenges, and the burning questions.
While driving, you come across multiple billboards, all of them trying to make their mark; but how many of those do you attempt to read, let alone discuss later with those around you? Every social media post that a brand publishes witnesses the same fate – of not being seen (on most occasions) or be forgotten seconds after seeing it.
What’s even worse is that unlike traditional marketing like billboard advertising, the hurdles to Social Media Marketing only begins here.
Let’s discuss the age-old, innocent question –
Why is my work not seen on social media?
The questions that are synonymous to the above can also be:
- Why is my brand’s organic reach decreasing?
- My social media followers are increasing, yet my engagement rate is decreasing, why?
Blame it to the social media algorithms that all major social media channels follow, the consequences of which you must have experienced yet overlooked them:
You will now see more content from friends, family, and groups that lead you to interact with people, and less public content that leads to more overall time spent – Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook Newsroom)
The quote simply translates to – no more free lunch for you! How? Here’s how:
The algorithm says that less the people interact with a brand’s page content (by likes, comments, shares or other clicks), lesser content they will see from that page; to add to the suffering, your audience will see more content from their friends and family in their timeline and less from your brand, even if they highly interact with you; this means a cascading snowball – less content will be seen, lesser will be interacted with and in turn even lesser content will be shown to the users. Eventually leading to almost no content being viewed.
Why did Facebook create such a hostile algorithm for brands, considering ad revenue is the bread and butter for the behemoth?
Facebook claims that the changes to the algorithm are designed to “improve the user experience”. Yet, the ulterior motive is evident, i.e., the users are its products, more content from users gives Facebook psychoanalytic data for better targeting. However, too much content from the brand is only a storage cost. A more cynical perspective would be – it is one of the tactics that compels brands to pay to even get the content seen on Facebook; and we have got a fancy term for it – Post Boosting.
Any marketer’s immediate instincts would suggest publishing more frequently to combat with Facebook’s algorithm and get the content seen; this is digging the grave for your channel’s performance (post and page reach, both). It’s simple, by publishing more, the content will get seen by your followers more often, but the propensity of post getting liked, commented and shared will decrease. Users don’t like to interact with every post put out by the brand, no matter how much they love the brand which eventually leads to content not getting seen and ergo decreased reach and overall engagement.
Instagram (part of Facebook Inc.)
With a plethora of brands opting for Instagram and a chronological view, it’s a fiercely competitive space. According to Hootsuite, there are over 25 million business profiles on Instagram and don’t forget your content is not just competing with other brands but also the content from your audience’s friends/networks they are connected with, cause the timeline is chronological, remember?
Don’t rush yourselves in bombarding your followers’ timeline with your content. It’s human nature that everyone likes to see what’s happening in their social circle more than what their favorite brand is up to.
Twitter has a struggle of its own that every brand on Twitter is affected in many ways:
- A steep decline in percentage growth of active users – Twitter’s monthly active users had fallen to 335 million in the second quarter, one million fewer than in the previous three-month period, according to Newyork Times; resulting in your content seen lesser, and your audience might approach you only when they have a concern or complaint for quick redressal.
- Fake accounts clean up – Twitter suspended more than 70 million accounts in two months — Washinton Post; your follower base reduces and since the number of accounts for Twitter adverts targeting is reduced, your ad’s CPC increases. Although this is a blessing in disguise as now you only have followers that are real humans and your engagement rate increases as the denominator of ‘reach’ is lower and more targeted.
The disruption doesn’t end here. Following Facebook’s example, Twitter has tweaked its algorithm showing similar tweets based on what a user has shown interest in the past; this means if your content doesn’t get liked and interacted, you will not fall under the bucket of ‘In case you missed it’ and your content falls between endless tweets timeline of a user. Good luck getting seen there.
There are more, trending hashtags in the search section is also set by default as ‘Trends for you’ which are personalized trends based on users’ location and whom they follow. So, even if your hashtag may be trending, it does not mean it is visible to everyone in that location, instead, it is only visible to users who have shown interest in the topic that is trending for your brand.
Highly inspired by Facebook, which is evident from the recent strikingly similar developments on LinkedIn, like functioning hashtags, unfollow a connection, links bookmarking, chat window, photo editing and the list goes on… LinkedIn’s algorithm is also tough, users who don’t engage with your content see less of it.
Organizations frequently share festival wishes and job updates to increase the follower base quickly; that’s one rookie mistake!
Any organization that has a presence on LinkedIn aims to have a follower base of relevant users, who have the potential to convert as customers; who are the ones who have budget and authority, if not need and time. So, job hunters aren’t the relevant target audience in most cases. LinkedIn algorithm also shows the type of content to people with which they are more likely to engage; which essentially means, you enter into an endless loop of attracting more users (via LinkedIn’s page suggestions) to job hunters if your share “we’re hiring” posts frequently or revelers with festive wishes who don’t mean business.
The answer to the question:
I have three one-size-fits-all-solutions:
- Create content that stands out and gets shared. Easier said than done; the trick is to keep looking at your data analytics reports on what’s performing and at the same time continually experimenting with new ideas. Put it in your sticky note somewhere “Original Thinkers Rule.”
- Keep up with the pace, embrace the changes of social media channels and shed money to get seen, i.e., in-short – go big or go home. It’s a bitter truth – social media marketing is no longer a battlefield for any organization looking to make a mark on digital space by going all organic and in most cases with a one-person army.
- Do everything in your capacity to stand out. Standing out doesn’t always mean shedding massive money; it has more to do with coming up with original ideas that best present your brand and gives a strong reason for followers to stick around and to even invite more on board.
Watch this space for more! I will be covering more suggestions in detail in subsequent blogs. Psssst… I’m willing to reveal some tricks in the comments below if I get asked!