Social media sites aren’t going away, even if some of us think that might be a good thing. Last December, TikTok surpassed Facebook and Google as the most popular destination on the internet globally. So it’s not surprising that most businesses assume that they will succeed if only they put time and money into being on social media.
However, more and more brands are turning away from these platforms or choosing to reduce their activity on them. Lots of Irish businesses will have noticed that they get almost zero organic reach on Facebook or Instagram and have to pay to promote their posts. Over time, the amount you need to spend to get the same level of reach increases. It’s not sustainable.
In May, I was interviewed by Sandra O’Connell of The Sunday Times for an article about business and social media. An extract of my comments is below, or you can read the full article at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/irish-smes-keep-their-marketing-in-tiktok-condition-htv8l6vpk. Sometimes, a social media presence is central to a brand’s success, but not always. If you would like to have a chat about developing a marketing strategy that doesn’t rely on social media or are interested in using social media in a more ethical way, get in touch!
Irish SMEs keep their marketing in TikTok condition, The Sunday Times
It’s easy to get distracted by the pursuit of clicks and likes. Regardless of such successes, “never allow your business to become too dependent on any one platform”, warns Scarlet Bierman of Engage, a content marketing agency.
“You don’t build a house on rented land,” she adds, pointing out that algorithms can change on a platform’s whim, taking your customer connections with them.
She advises all small business owner clients to keep developing “first-party channels” too, such as e-zines or hard-copy newsletters. These allow you to keep control of the customer data, and the customer relationship.
Some brands are increasingly concerned about issues such as social media platforms’ impact on the environment, on mental health, and on data security risks. Business owners can also find themselves unexpectedly locked out of their own accounts, either due to hacking or an unwitting breach of a platform rule. Both can be difficult to resolve speedily.
“Social media is a bit of a problem,” Bierman adds. “They’re not the lovely neutral networks they were sold as.
“Five years ago the question for businesses in relation to social media was ‘what channel?’ Now it’s ‘do we actually need to be on social media at all?’ More brands are leaving it behind and focusing on direct communications with their customers or audience instead.”
Achieving cut-through, or grabbing attention, becomes gets harder as channels get busier. Platforms can also change their analytics in such a way as to make your organic reach lower, she says, inevitably leading business owners to start paying for ads.
It’s all part of the behavioural psychology that lies behind the success of social media, she believes. “It’s a very human action-reaction thing,” Bierman says. “You feel better for having taken an action and gotten some likes. It feels like you’ve achieved something. Buying ads feeds into that.”
You also have to keep creating fresh content to keep bringing your audience back. “Be sure before you start that you can sustain it,” she adds.