Recent surveys show that within the next few years, social media will overrun traditional mainstream media as the prime source for information, education, and marketing.
Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are increasing widening their reach and niche to fit huge Fanbase – especially millennial – fast consuming online content. With no fair play and an industry that is oligopoly in nature, tradition media space is quickly collapsing.
Brands too have accepted the impact social media has on the overall business progress, growth, traffic, and generation of the sales lead. Meaning, if your brand is not on social climates, it‘s probably missing out tremendously.
But not so fast. Social media can be a tricky space, especially for fresh entrants. Brands that form their following around these platforms must be pragmatic and master the art of social diversification and not algorithms.
As witnessed, many brands have succeeded around social channels; others failed because they didn’t make their strategy right. But why?
Today’s social media cannot equal what we had a few years back. Come to think of it–before you could easily create an account fill out your bio and gain followers–in an instant! I remember my first Twitter account I quickly gained over 100 followers on signing up. All by following users who would follow back making no comments, tweeting or liking.
While this did work before, it may not be the case today as bots, fake accounts, and misleading viral sites took over social platforms hence calling for a revision in rules of play.
A change in the level of play meant that brands and user alike must continually evolve/change to remain relevant. Without which, you could see your organic traffic or user engagement drop because of algorithm changes, a ban, or account suspension- a common phenomenal publisher have to deal with in recent time.
Of course, we publishers are not after misleading the people with viral content or having accounts run by bots. And being we depend so much on social platforms to send traffic to our sites and generate a return from leads. These constant adjustments are an increasing concern of how social media platform support our business and encourage us to grow!
Here is the matter at hand.
Before social media did support a lot of media content, but with time these companies coordinated their platform to favor more of user engagement. It, therefore, forces content producers to settle for less or better still look away! And wore unto you if your site traffic relies on a particular platform – your organic reach is numbered!
Again if you are a publisher whose content approach is sole around social media – you may not survive for long. Why? To better explain myself, I have introduced two case study below on why social media must not be your sole content plan.
Case study one: LittleThings
We know of LittleThings. Right? The not so viral platform allowed users to share collections of videos, picture, and DIY projects. We also know of its unfortunate trending from grace to grass after Facebook’s change in news feed algorithm generated a 75% dip in its organic look.
You may wonder how this happened for such a thoughtful platform. It seemed to have its strategy right. Well, the content makers made one grave mistake. Capitalized on the social giant news feed platform such that over 60 million of its monthly unique visitors originated from the Facebook universe.
On top of it all when Facebook give viral content priority allowing video clips to populate its platform. LittleThing was not left out. The company jumped on the bandwagon of viral content producers.
However, when a dirty media syndrome engulfed Facebook during the 2016 election where viral content from publishers shared on its platform misled many and promoted hate-mongers.
Facebook to restore its status act unapologetic resulting in a tricky relationship with publishers and a few casualties – among them – LittleThings and other viral sites like Upworthy.
But what’s with Facebook Algorithm change?
Facebook’s news feed is now more of an engagement platform unlike before where it was bleeding of viral content. News from brands is no-longer highly prioritize. The algorithm only considers content that invites comments, opinions, engage an audience in groups, ask subscribers to follow, and raise your advertising cost. Something unheard of before.
This points out why LittleThings experienced an immense drop in traffic. Their content was often a click bait and not sharable as algorithms required.
Case study two: Infowars
Here is an individual who made his strategy correct! Or not so. Controversial theorist, Alex Jones Infowars website, might be on the receiving end because of a media backlash and a ban/suspension from social media platforms. But that hasn’t stopped him from reaching more people and his site experiencing increased organic traffic.
Even though media companies are telling of a slip in visitors reach and video views as Facebook, Spotify, Apple, and Youtube shrink Jones audience, the Infowars wave has not died down yet! A curious fact is that Twitter one of the social media platform Jones diversified hasn’t flagged his social account.
Might it because he enjoys a comparatively small reach on Twitter, unlike Facebook or Youtube? We may not know. But Twitter claims the Inforwars owner hasn’t gone against any of the platform rules.
Thus Inforwars can enjoy organic traffic from social users – luxury LittleThings or Upworthy didn’t have.
Here is why you should not make social media your sole content strategy.
Publishers must understand that social media platforms run on an algorithm and hardly human input.
As news climate and social audience shifts, media firms are continually working on creating algorithms that support more user interaction, likes, and engagement on their platform and not publishers.
Look at Inforwars case. YouTube and Facebook were primarily responsible for sending a massive audience to the right-wing theorist site. They hoisted these content on their platform, served them before our eye and those who never wanted to look them. But did they made money from it?
However, when the status changed, and the content became politically polarized because of a significant shift in fan base; violation came into question. And a ban/suspension followed which impacted on Inforwars overall traffic from the social circle. But since Inforwars didn’t have social media as its exclusive marketing and content strategy, it held off despite all the censorship and media backlash.
Similar to LittleThings. Like Inforwars, LittleThings served content which was best suited to Facebook algorithms and social media platforms. Relevance, freshness, and new just what algorithms love. And more captivating to a charged community. But without a human moderator, things ran out-of-place during the elections as viral content dominated social media platforms. Since they depended on Facebook for their overall traffic, a reform in the social media algorithm prompted a bearish performance.
LittleThing is a case of a company that didn’t get their social media strategy right.
Publishers should rather not fight to understand social media algorithms and what ignites social users. The need to diversify and build an audience around your platform is key to the continuity of web traffic from the social realm as much as producing quality content.
LittleThings may already have gone through some changes since its acquisition by Rock Media. But they did themselves the damage. A constant and unpredictable change in algorithms calls for a break in over-dependence on social media for organic search. It requires content producers to look at the targeted audience, carefully craft a strategy and diversification with Google search and other platforms.