To be or not to be on social media?
Anyone living in 2018 knows the obvious: there’s no escaping social media. Facebook and Twitter are now household names, with platforms like Instagram and Snapchat following suit. And while it might feel like everyone—particularly millennials— considers themselves an expert, there is still a lot brands can learn on how and when to leverage social media for tangible results.
This feat isn’t helped by some of the questionable misconceptions you hear floating around meetings and offices, so here to set the record straight are a few of those social media myths, debunked:
You don’t really need social media
“Social media is great for e-commerce, but we’re selling services, not goods!”
This was recently said to me by someone who works in an attorney’s office. And I see where he’s coming from; it’s easier to see the value of social media when clicks can translate directly into concrete sales. That being said, having a solid social media presence is still useful, if only to reinforce your organization’s tone, mission, and values. It also gives companies a good way to showcase culture, which you might not get to convey through other channels, and can be great insight for potential employees.
Customers don’t appreciate social media
Think of it this way: If your website is your 24/7 store-front, the same can be said for social media profiles! While your business might not operate past 5 p.m., your customers are still trying to reach you, so why not give them a way to do so? In fact, a study by Sprout Social found that social media was the preferred way for clients to get customer service—ahead of even the website. So when it comes to choosing between you and a competitor, a good social media presence just might be the thing that tips the scale.
Metrics are hard and need a full-time position to really make a difference
Yes and no. Metrics are an essential aspect of good social media practices (why post something when it hasn’t performed well in the past?) and while they can be tricky, there are plenty of existing tools to help you find your way without having to opt for a specialist. For instance, analytics from the platform itself, such as Instagram or Facebook Insights, can help you determine what type of content performs best and when to post it based on your target audience’s preferences. This article also gives a great overview of the best times to post on each platform according to 20+ studies.
You need to be everywhere
On the flip side, too often do organizations and brands fall into the trap of thinking they need to ‘do it all.’ But while it’s easy to start an account, maintaining one with enough shareable, quality content is another thing altogether—especially since social media platforms that haven’t been touched in a while are more likely to paint a negative or confusing picture of your brand.
Do your homework. Determine which platforms your target audiences are spending time on and start there. Starting off strong with two to three accounts will always be better than haphazardly managing six different ones.
By Vanessa Pearce
Over the last few years, there has been a lot of discussion around Facebook’s impending death. Today’s teens supposedly view the platform as “old”, and don’t want to be where their parents and grandparents are. Meanwhile, others have been put off by the “fake news” epidemic that has seemingly run largely unchecked, at least until recently.
But is Facebook really on its way out? Nah.
Remember, this is the same internet responsible for (incorrectly) reporting that countless celebrities, from Will Smith to Betty White to Jeff Goldblum, have died. You can’t believe everything you read, and Facebook continues to live and breathe today.
According to a January 2018 report from Statista, Facebook remains the most popular social network in the U.S. by a pretty large margin, and its lead grows even bigger on a global scale. The platform continues to play a pivotal role in brands’ efforts to connect with their customers—and it should. Still, as public relations and social media professionals, we can’t help but wonder if—or rather, when—the world will crown a new king. Will it be something completely new? Or something we already have?
A recent New York Times article suggests that Facebook has been “testing” society with two of its platforms: Facebook and Instagram. (Let’s not forget that Facebook owns Instagram!) The differences between the two applications are obvious to anyone who uses them, but perhaps the most notable is the ability to share. While Facebook thrives off of shared content from anywhere and everywhere, Instagram’s sharing is more restricted. Users can only share content privately via direct message, or by utilizing clunky third-party repost applications. And there are only limited ways to share external links. As a result, Instagram essentially forces us to interact with the content in a much simpler way: you can like, or you can comment.
As a social media manager, it is easy to become frustrated by Instagram’s limitations. We can’t post a working link to our article in a post? Or to our product page? If users can’t broadly share our content, how will our audience grow? But what is often perceived as Instagram’s weaknesses are actually the platform’s strengths. The New York Times columnist goes so far as to say that Instagram is a “healthier” version of Facebook, and appeals to Mark Zuckerberg to use Instagram’s principles to help improve Facebook.
Now, I don’t think Facebook will be doing away with external links any time soon, or limiting text, or deactivating the share button. And the thing is, it doesn’t need to. We already have that platform and it is Instagram. What will be interesting to see over time is if people really do migrate to spending more of their time on this platform, and how Instagram adapts in response.
For us and for clients, Instagram presents some unique challenges, but also opportunities. When it comes to social media content generation, external links are a crutch. We have so much to say, and can’t do it all in a status update or tweet (even with the expanded 280-character limit!). We write enough to capture attention and paste a link for more information—which users may or may not click on. But not with Instagram.
Instagram pushes us to stretch our creativity, and prioritize the message. How can we communicate with our target audiences with just a photo and a caption? Not only is it possible, it is fun. Catchy graphics, beautiful photos, pithy captions. Lots of hashtags. Instagram Stories. It’s a different world, but brands should learn it, and love it.
Just in case.
By Heather Kowalczyk