We've lost trust in social media and that's a good thing.
Last month a survey by Edelman found that social media companies have lost the trust of most of the public, with only a quarter of the UK population now saying that they trust social media as a source for news and information.
This came out at around the time– possibly not coincidentally – when Mark Zuckerberg announced that meaningful interactions are the new currency and posts that spark conversation and are shared will surface more highly in the Facebook newsfeed.
But this should be no shock to those businesses and social media companies who simply churned out content without placing enough importance of what their audiences want to see and the spam which is ruining the end user experience.
I would suggest that it was extremely naïve for businesses and/or social media companies to think they could maintain a ‘selling to’ culture without losing the trust or interest of a knowing and clever public.
And this is why I think a little movement in how people feel about social media is no bad thing. If it means social media managers like myself – and businesses - will see social media not purely as a way of generating leads but instead seeing the two-way nature of a sustained relationship. It’s an opportunity to hear and learn more about your consumers/supporters/potential customers – what their interests are, how you can help them, what campaigns they are involved in. This community-based behaviour will see the return of veritable online relationships; social media is not going to grind to a halt overnight.
The obsession with reach or numbers of followers needs to stop. Isn’t it far more valuable to have less, but really strong relationships? Surely engagement should always have been the main marketing objective?
So, my tips for better engagement on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram platforms are:
• Find out where your community ‘hang out’, who they follow, what they like and go and say ‘hello’ or write a nice comment on a business or individual's photo.
• Respond to comments on your photos and start a conversation.
• Use Stories to show off your personality and give snippets into your brand, to maintain or expand your reputation.
• Make engagement natural; stop asking for likes and shares – you’ll get penalised.
• If you’re not sure what topics are key to your audience, ASK THEM. Then start to produce content that ignites their interest.
• Facebook’s latest algorithm move wants to encourage locally-connected communities so wherever possible think of a local angle if this is possible for your business.
• Have an automatic message set up so that people know you mean to respond at the earliest possible moment – and make sure you do!
• The latest Facebook announcement suggested Groups will appear higher up users’ newsfeeds than business pages. Have conversations and discussions in relevant groups AND/OR set up your own group if you think you can offer value.
• Experiment with Facebook Live. Again, this seemingly will take precedent over regular video. Tell people when you’re going to be going live and actively encourage viewers to ask questions during the Live feed.
• If you still want to use video, it seems that slightly longer video is now going to be the winner in news feeds as the algorithm will think that there is more likely chance of engagement if the video is longer.
• Like Instagram, start to have conversations with your followers AND people you follow. Find out what’s important to them. Create lists to best utilise your time.
• Share useful information, from other people, and credit them.
• Set up a live Twitter chat with your followers. Here, they can ask you questions, get advice, or discuss an important topic with you. You can cross promote the transcript on your blog, company website, Facebook page and Instagram.
• When you promote your brand, do it in a way, that it gives value to the consumer.
If you find it hard to find or justify that time, ask yourself why you are on social media in the first place, and what you hope to gain from it. Craft ways you can be more efficient at finding posts worth engaging.
And if we have had a ‘blip’ in social media attitudes, there’s no need to panic – we can make this work for us. Amy Orben, a social media psychologist and lecturer at Oxford University, validates my thoughts, by saying: “Social media companies are just experiencing what some of their more traditional rivals experienced at their launch. When the printing press became available 500 years ago we had the panic then about too much social information becoming available.”
Let’s look to campaigns such as “reclaimsocial”, led by Lightful, which is focusing on positive stories from charities, social enterprises and individuals.
Let 2018 be the year the majority finally learns that quality over quantity is what wins.