Technologies change constantly, as do users’ habits. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in peoples’ use of social media. With this in mind, you might want to examine aspects of your social strategy, and consider ‘disrupting’ it before change is forced upon you.
Consider your balance between ‘declaring’ and ‘sharing’ content
Since trust in corporations is low, people have a tendency to be suspicious of content created by companies. Social platforms are no longer corporate megaphones for marketing messages; instead, people look to social media for content that originates from one another, or from third parties they value and trust.
Consider how this emergent truth should influence your content creation strategy. For instance, can you angle your message to communicate what your followers want or need to know, and away from what your brand messaging says you should be telling them? Can you source useful information from outside your organisation instead of inventing it? What about finding ways to elicit some of that information from your social communities, and become the curator of that value?
Revisit your approach to targeting vs. attracting your customers
While digital tools continue to allow more granular targeting (even ‘micro-targeting’) options, restricting your view of social media as simply platforms on which you can directly market to your customers risks missing the broader benefits of providing content to a community. Think less direct mail and more public square.
Why not provide intriguing, relevant content with the sole purpose of adding to your customers’ (both current and potential) conversations? And perhaps use social media to inform them, without judging a campaign’s merits in terms of explicit likes or clicks (and therefore avoid designing it solely to achieve those outcomes)? When the Financial Times chose to publish its intriguing visual content on Instagram without referrals back to its site, it still saw its followers grow seven times in a year.
Just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you should
Ask yourself the following questions about your next campaign. As a company, if we didn’t publish this content, or sponsor it, would people still embrace and share it? The rules up to now have encouraged new branded content to be funnier, more edgy, and often more disposable than what preceded it; perhaps you could explore ways to elevate your content, and your measures of success, beyond entertainment alone?
In fact, there’s no rule or standard applying to social media that you shouldn’t rethink, even if you conclude that you’ve got the right approach. Peoples’ expectations of social media are changing all the time, so there’s no guarantee that what‘s worked for you in the past will continue to work for you in the going forward.
The good news is that if you already work in the space, you possess the necessary skills. Disruption demands that you throw out preconceived notions about how you apply those skills, and consider new use cases for social media. Ultimately, social media is a means for people to connect with each other, and that includes how they interact with brands.
If you find new ways to make your social media human — honest, credible, real — you may be the one leading the disruption.