Three reasons social media will get even harder for brands in 2015
Social media is growing up. The networks and platforms are changing as they attract more users and become more part of normal behaviour and communication. And the way brands use social media as part of their marketing or other activities is changing too. For a number of years, brands have been experimenting with social media – some with considerable success, others less so. But when brands look back on these earlier years in social media marketing, they will realise that things were simpler then than they would become.
In 2015, social media will become even harder for brands. To get value from it brands will need to work even harder, have a clear idea of where it fits for them strategically and have the skills and capabilities internally to realise its potential.
1. Platforms are making it harder for brands
As the major platforms – such as Facebook and Twitter – mature, their dependency on brands is changing. When they were growing they needed brands to bring an audience to them. Now they don’t, and they want to keep that audience whilst making money from the brands who brought them there in the first place.
The audiences that brands have built – through Likes and followers – are now more difficult to reach without brands spending money to promote content and themselves. Facebook, in January, will change its newsfeed so that any posts that appear ‘promotional’ will only appear if there is advertising spend behind them.
2. Users of these platforms are taking more control over who they engage with where
As users get more comfortable with the role that social media is playing in their lives, they are segmenting who they talk to where. They might use Facebook for sharing photos and updates with family and friends, for example. They might have a Twitter account for their work and a Pinterest account for their home refurbishment project. They will talk about some topics in some places, and others in others.
This segmentation of their life in social media will make it more difficult for brands to identify and to engage with them. There will be increasing spaces where brands are either physically excluded or just not welcome. Users of these platforms will be deciding when they want to engage with brands and on what platforms.
The number of people reporting that “I have a Twitter account for complaining to brands” will no doubt increase.
3. New types of networks and platforms are on the rise
Whilst the talk of the decline of Facebook, and other well established platforms, may be a little premature, users are turning to a more diverse range of networks. Notably they are moving a lot of discussion, recommendation and debate to messaging apps and other private spaces. These cannot be seen by brands and allow people to form informal groups and communities for any discussion.
So what should brands do
In this landscape the same rules apply, but it is more important than ever that brands develop clear strategies and processes for social media, and that they grow the skills internally to manage these.
- Brands need a clear reason to engage with people in social media – they have to earn the right to be listened to.
- Brands need to have a robust strategy for the use of social media across their business – and it’s often more about what they don’t do than what they do.
- Brands need to grow the skills and capabilities in their own teams to understand, build strategies for and execute in this changing social media world.