Recent reports show social media will soon overrun traditional mainstream media as the prime source for information, entertainment, and marketing.
Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are increasingly widening their audience – especially to millennial – fast consuming online content. With no fair play and an industry that is oligopoly in nature, tradition media space is quickly collapsing.
Because of this, brands have recognized the impact social media has on their ranking, and are making a presence on every platform. So if your brand is not on the social climates, it is missing on a tremendous opportunity.
But not so fast. Social media is a tricky space, especially for fresh entrants. Brands forming 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 digital content strategy right.
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 your bio, and gain followers–in an instant! I remember my first Twitter account I quickly garnered over 100 followers on signing up. All by following users who would follow back, making no comments, tweeting, or liking.
While this worked, it may not now 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 means brands and user must evolve to remain relevant. Without, they could see their 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 times.
Social media and website content strategy
Before, social media supported lots of publisher’s content, but as time passed, these platforms orchestrated their algorithms against external media sources. Content producers now have to settle for less or better, look away. And wore unto you if your site traffic relies on a particular platform – your reach is numbered!
Again if you are a publisher whose content strategy for the web revolves around social media – you may not survive long. Why? For more explanation, I have introduced two case study below why social media must not be your sole content strategy for the web.
Case study one: LittleThings
We know of LittleThings, Right? The not so viral platform encouraged users to share collections of videos, picture, and DIY projects. We also know of its unfortunate trend from grace to grass after Facebook’s change in news feed algorithm generated a 75% dip in its organic thrust.
You may wonder how this happened for such a thoughtful platform. It seemed to have its digital content strategy right. Well, the content makers made one grave mistake. Capitalizing on the social giant news feed platform such that over 60 million of its monthly unique visitors originated from the Facebook universe.
Additionally, when Facebook gave viral content priority allowing video clips to populate its platform, LittleThings was not left out. The company jumped on the bandwagon of viral content producers.
However, 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 acted unapologetically; 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?
Unlike before, where Facebook newsfeed was bleeding of viral content from content producers, the algorithms now consider content which invites comments, opinions, engage an audience in groups, ask subscribers to follow, and raise your advertising costs – something unheard.
This points out why LittleThings experienced significant traffic drop. Their content was often a clickbait, and not sharable as algorithms demanded.
Case study two: Infowars
Here is an individual who made right, his content strategy for the web! Or not so. Controversial theorist, Alex Jones Infowars website might be on the receiving end because of media backlash and a ban from social media platforms. But that hasn’t stopped him from reaching more people and his site experiencing increased organic traffic.
Though media companies are telling of a slip in reach and video views as Facebook, Spotify, Apple, and Youtube shrink Jones audience, the Infowars wave has not died down! A curious fact is that Twitter, one of the social media platforms Jones diversified, hasn’t flagged his account. Might be because he enjoys a comparatively small reach on Twitter, unlike Facebook or Youtube?
Twitter claims the Infowars owner hasn’t gone against any of the platform rules. Thus Infowars can enjoy organic traffic from social users – a luxury LittleThings or Upworthy didn’t have.
Here is why you should not make social media your sole content strategy.
Publishers must understand social media platforms run on algorithms and hardly human input.
As news climate and social audience shifts, social platforms are working on creating algorithms that support more user interaction: likes, and engagement on their platform and not on publishers.
Look at Inforwars case. YouTube and Facebook were primarily responsible for the right-wing theorist site traffic. They hosted these content on their platform, served them before our eye and those who never wanted to look. But did they make money from them? You can tell.
However, when status changed, and the content became politically polarized because of a significant shift in the fan base, the issue of violation came into question. And a ban followed which impacted on Infowars overall traffic from the social circle. But since Infowars didn’t have social media as its exclusive marketing and content strategy, it is surviving despite all censorship and media backlash.
Similar to LittleThings. Like Infowars, 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 platforms. Since they depended on Facebook for their entire traffic, a reform in the social media algorithm prompted a bearish performance.
Content strategy for social media
LittleThings is a case of a company that didn’t get right their content strategy for social media. Publishers should not fight to understand social media algorithms, and what ignites social users. The need to diversify and build an audience around an owned platform is key to the continuity of web traffic as much as producing quality content.
LittleThings may have changed a lot 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 traffic. It requires content producers to look at the targeted audience, carefully craft a content strategy, and diversify with Google search and other platforms.