Communications Convergence: Are We Really In A “Post Social Media” World?
Much has been said in the beginning of 2015 about the digital landscape becoming a “post social media” world, but is that essentially true? A recent report by Salesforce reveals 70% of marketers will increase their social spending in 2015. And 66% of marketers claimed social media was core to their business. Even if the structure and ecosystem of social is changing, it’s still important, and good brands aren’t ignoring its potential.
What “Post Social Media” REALLY Means
When most people talk about “Post Social Media” the picture in their minds is one of a “post cassette tape” or “post voicemail” world, rendering the technology defunct.
But what the term “Post Social Media” actually means is that instead of having your company’s “big three” sites (different for every company, but for example Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), your company will likely be looking for more specific, targeted sites where people in your desired demographic are naturally congregating. That means your company will likely be required to spend more time sourcing and joining these communities in order to get the same reach metrics you once did on Facebook or Twitter. There will be new platforms that will take off with certain communities that you will need to be on the lookout for.
Does this mean social media is OVER? No. Actually, it means your work is just beginning.
The Core of Why Social Works
Social media works because socializing is a natural need for humans, and we rely on our peers for information and opinions. This used to take the form of oral tradition, then written, then auditory (radio and telephones), then visual (television), and eventually, online. The methods have changed, but the need and the desire to be in touch and solicit advice from close friends and family remains.
The Landscape is Changing. Be Ready
If social isn’t going away, it is diversifying, and there is an interesting trend in long-form consumption you should be aware of. Readership of long-form content is going up, due to tablet and mobile reading habits changing. You need to be aware of both ends of the spectrum: social quick hits and a growing need for long-form content.
What Works in Social Now?
While social has always been a channel that has seen trends come and go, there are a few specifics you should include in your strategy for 2015:
- Site selection: Think and look outside of the biggest social networks. While it’s true that Facebook and Twitter are still dominant, you could be missing out on legitimate, targeted, smaller communities that could yield much higher conversion results for you. Should your company be on Super? YikYak? Medium? Start researching, and consider testing these new channels.
- Posting frequency: Posting more than once a day and posting on weekends should be on your to-do list for 2015. Already following this? Look at your metrics to find any correlations between certain posting cadences and engagement.
- Real-time reaction: Yes, every brand wishes it could create an “Oreo moment,” but even Oreo doesn’t produce those viral moments every day. However, brands that are truly succeeding in social are reacting in real time not just to news or cultural touchstones, but to input and commentary from their fans and followers. If you’re not embracing the moment, you’re leaving a lot of social media power on the table.
- Proactive, truthful posts: Did your brand screw up? Are you worried about your perception because of public comments from a detractor? Ditch the corporate-speak and apologize like a human would to another human in person. The truth plainly told will help you win on social.
- Linking to your long-form: if you’re creating long-form, make sure you’re telling your fans in your shorter form areas. Try to schedule these links for times when you’re more likely to get reads, such as commuting blocks in the morning or afternoon, or on Fridays before the weekend (or even posting during the weekend). This could help deepen your connection with your short-form fans.
It’s important to not discount social media out of hand. You should pull as many metrics as you can to get a picture of your audience and establish real dialogue with them. Social media is not dead; rather it’s a hydra, spawning more heads every day. This should not deter you or your team. You just need to stay focused on the best-quality sites for the audience that you want and speak with them in a human way that takes into accound knowledge and understanding of their interests.
Social media is not “free” nor is it “easy.” It does, however, produce real, quantifiable results if executed correctly. Your goals in 2015 should be to reach and delight your audience.