When it comes to the big social media platforms, I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had with disgruntled people this year:
“I’m coming off Facebook”; “Twitter isn’t what it was”; “Google+ still feels like talking to an empty room” etc.
Have you heard this too?
What’s going on? Are the winds of change blowing when it comes to business use of social media?
If you’ve just got into social media or are considering it as a tool for your business it must be a confusing time to sign up. Is it going to be worth your while, or is the party well and truly over?
I thought I’d delve deeper into this. I have thrown the question out to a few people I respect and added my own thoughts too.
So, has social media had its chips?
Eli Trier: “It is time to use social media in a new way.”
“I think social media is here to stay in one form or another, but I definitely feel that there is a need to use it in a new way.
Everywhere I look people are deleting their Facebook accounts, or swearing off Twitter, and I think it’s because it’s just gotten too noisy. Everyone is shouting at each other and no one is listening any more. Every day there’s more and more content being creating and I think we’re all exhausted trying to keep up with it all.”
Eli Trier is an artist and illustrator elitrier.com
Brian Inkster: “Don’t dismiss it (unless perhaps it’s Facebook)”
“Social Media has certainly not had its chips as far as I am concerned. Just this afternoon I had a meeting with a new contact who stems originally via Twitter. Yesterday I had an interactive discussion on Google+ (yes, I did say Google+!) with two commentators about a blog post I published at the weekend. The other week a LinkedIn contact referred a new client to me and another one invited me to an event. Social media still throws up opportunities for me and for my law firm, Inksters, on a daily basis. Don’t dismiss it, unless perhaps it is Facebook ;-)”
Brian Inkster runs Inksters Solicitors: Managing Partner of the Year, Law Awards of Scotland 2014 www.inksters.com
Heather Townsend: “Social media has become less ‘free’.”
“Has social media had its chips? No. However, the initial honeymoon period for people on social media is over. Because people now take social media for granted and are more attuned to the actual benefits rather than hype, we are also getting more choosy about where we spend our time on social media. If we are not getting the expected results from our time investment, then people are more prepared to ditch social media communities or even entire platforms.
What has happened is social media has become less “free” for business owners. Gone are the days when a business could easily and cheaply reach fans through a Facebook business page or a free Twitter tool would do just what you needed.
As a result, many business owners are evaluating their spend on social media vs more traditional marketing and seeing what is working. If the investment in a social media site doesn’t stack up, then it is being unceremoniously pruned.”
Heather Townsend is an award-winning author, speaker and coach. Voted top 50 influencer on social media for finance and business: @heathertowns
Ian Rhodes “Don’t forget the social element.”
Social media (for the 99% of us who don’t own global brands) isn’t about ‘mass’ communication. It’s about connecting with like-minded people. So we have to be social businesses and open our doors and let folks see what we’re all about.
Those that believe social media has had its chips are using the platform as a mass communication channel without the ’social’ element. So, it’s just media. An unlit billboard under a darkened bridge.
Social media success stories relate to the value of the connections that are created rather than the sales that are attributed. That’s where companies have (and will) thrive through social channels.”
Ian Rhodes is founder & chief differentiator at Brand Less Ordinary www.irhodes.com
Paul Hajek: “Figure out where the attention is.”
“The internet has been and continues to be an epic digital land grab for attention. I started blogging in 2008 and was on Twitter in 2009 and have enjoyed early mover advantage. Others late to the scene are playing catch up. Everyone today is a media company and we need to find scale.
Don’t lose your time in social networks where no one is listening to you. Noise is noise and at cacophonous levels, you need to figure out where the attention is, jump on board quickly and get your own early mover advantage.”
Paul Hajek is MD of Clutton Cox solicitors (and describes himself as a content marketer trapped in a lawyer’s body!) cluttoncox.co.uk
Chris Brogan: “The tools work if you use them well.”
I’m thriving and so are companies who use the tools smartly, no matter the size.”
Chris Brogan has written many great books and runs the Owner Media Group too chrisbrogan.com
John Beckley: “Success is not about individual channels.”
“Things are changing. Here at Sands Beach Resort we have certainly dropped our expectations for Facebook. We can see our reach is down by about 80%. We are now spreading ourselves across multiple social media platforms. Twitter, Flickr and Instagram still do really well for us and we are making a lot of videos, but for us Google+ is a waste of time. We also keep our blog ticking over.
Success is not so much about individual channels. It is about a much wider picture of digital transformation as a business. I think that’s only going to get stronger and stronger.
We need to stop looking at number of followers and focus on quality of engagement. This is the key. People first.”
John Beckley is the award winning Online Community Manager at Sands Beach Resort, Lanzarote @johnbeckley
What does this mean to your business?
A very interesting mix of responses, I’m sure you’ll agree.
So what do we make of all this? What does it mean to you, your business and marketing? Here’s my view:
- This is not the end of social media. We will always seek new ways to connect, and social media gives us a voice and an ability to build relationships in a way we never had before. I love what Ian says about connecting with like-minded people – that’s the joy of it for me.
- Things have changed. Eli, Paul and John are right. There’s more noise now, with more take up, and more choice. More and more social content, more and more platforms. The social landscape never stands still and we need be aware of what’s happening to keep up.
- You have to put the work in. The tools still work ‘if you use them well’ as Chris, Brian, Heather and Ian all comment. Making connections requires more effort than it did in the past, and I think perhaps more consistency. Having a clear story and a good voice will stand you in good stead, and listening more than broadcasting will help you forge a useful presence. Be a real person in a sea of noise and automation and you’ll attract the right people to you, but success won’t happen overnight.
- Know what works. Social media is constantly evolving. Get stuck in, feel and assess what’s working and what’s not (John does this so well for Sands Beach Resort). We mustn’t be afraid to ditch the platforms that aren’t right for us and our customers.
Is social media dead? Hell no. It remains a powerful tool. The right behaviour on the right social networks gives us all a fantastic way to connect and build relationships, even when the rest of the world has caught up.
Be human and helpful and social. If we play by the valuable rules it’ll do us right.
A big thank you to all those who contributed. I really appreciate the debate.
PS – this is the first of 3 posts on social media in the next week. More to come.
Other content you might like:
- The golden rule for company social media
- A social media case study: Sands Beach Resort
- How NOT to use Twitter
And if you have a spare 30 minutes and want to learn more about wider digital transformation, we’d recommend this talk by Brian Solis: youtu.be/G45QqSZvhbU. (NB: The first minute is in Swedish but don’t let that put you off! It’s brilliant.)