Today, social media forms a core pillar of almost every brand’s digital marketing strategy. The thing is, in our pursuit to continuously drive engagement and conversions, we seldom have the time to take stock of what’s actually worked, and what’s missed the mark altogether. With this in mind, we explore, in this blog post, how social media is making or breaking particular brands today, and how conducting a social media audit can help brands achieve social success.
Don’t ‘Lush’ to Exit Social Media: Audit for Social Media Fragmentation First
If you’ve kept an eye on news about the social media space lately, you’ll have heard all about Lush Handmade Cosmetics choosing to abandon social media, because it’s “getting harder to talk to customers” and they’re “tired of fighting with algorithms, and do not want to pay to appear in your newsfeed.”
It’s a real Catch-22 situation as consumers are struggling to keep up the amount of notifications that come from being active on multiple social networks, while for brands, it’s a fight just to get their organic content seen, meaning more budget needs to go to paid social media accounts, while the real-time nature of the current context of communication means we can’t drop a ball. We have to keep an eye on each query and complaint, lest it snowballs into something viral in the few moments you avert our eyes from those ever-present screens. Multiply that by all the platforms your brand is active on and you can clearly see the problem of social media fragmentation.
In fact, that’s why Lush has confirmed that as of this week, it will direct UK-based customers to its website, email, and phone line for one-on-one conversations, while also increasing its emphasis on influencer marketing over social, which will effectively be paused for now. That’s right, it’s pushing “pause” on all its social media platforms, in what may well be an ethical move in this fake news era.
Social Media Warning: As Quantity Rises, Quality Falls
Mat Morrison, aka @mediaczar, may have stumbled upon the real reason behind this bold move. He tweeted, “In 2015 I carried out an initial audit for a response to a brief from Lush. There were more than 80 distinct Facebook presences, 170 Twitter presences. No consistency, no central control. Lush keen (at the time) to let individual stores “express themselves.”
And that’s a good four years ago. We all know the rate of technological progress is exponential, so what was perhaps an annoying niggle back then will have blossomed into a throbbing migraine by now. And that’s the crux of the problem.
It’s not that Lush had a bad year in the social media marketing space – far from it. In fact, The Drum reports that in 2018, Lush’s Facebook and Instagram channels “garnered more than 10 million video views, with an average of 42% growth month on month.” That definitely counts as success when it comes to reaching audiences – at least at the surface level.
But therein lies the rub, as it’s often the deeper, engagement aspect of social media where fragmentation comes in.
Lush is not alone in this regard. In fact, it may be on to something, as TechCrunch reports 2018 was “the year social networks were no longer social: As social networks become bigger, content becomes garbage.”
Are you being realistic about the lifespan of your social media posts?
AdWeek points out that while it may seem your perfect social media post has maximum staying power, the average lifespan of a Facebook post is between two to five hours. “After that, 75 percent of the total engagement and impressions from a post will have already happened. On Twitter, a tweet’s lifetime is about eighteen minutes. Instagrammers are perpetually scrolling, only stopping for a second to tap on their screens.”
Then there’s the fact that most social media users are scattered across a handful of networks, switching between channels frequently throughout the day, expecting different images and conversational styles across different platforms.
For brands, that’s turned into a serious challenge. Just weight the time consumers take to see your posts against the time you’re spending putting together your social media content and it makes sense to streamline your focus rather than taking a scattergun approach to social media.
That’s where Lush’s social influencer move makes sense. We’re not talking about a random collaboration that doesn’t make any headway as it’s not a believable brand-celeb relationship or memorable campaign. Just think back to when Ellen DeGeneres took that ‘Oscar celebs’ selfie with a Samsung phone in 2014. Twitter estimates the selfie was seen more than 32million times, with a record 3.2million retweets. As and much as $1billion marketing value for Samsung. So it can be done, but this is by no means the norm.
Can You Feel the Social Media Fatigue Rolling In?
As happens any new trend, we’ve reached the point where there’s a strong sense of social media fatigue.
Not only in the sheer amount we feel a need to post on the network, but especially if you’re that brand with more than one community manager, on more than one platform. Try as we may for consistency of voice, it’s one of the hardest tech eggs to crack. We’re often so busy responding there’s little time to stop and share new ideas, identify new opportunities and sharpen our approach in a way that matches the brand promise and followers’ expectations. Anyone who’s worked through a social media crisis knows what we’re talking about.
So Lush may well be acting on some foresight here in taking a digital step back to one-on-one- conversations via their website, email, and physical phone line. They’re dialing it down to the level where it was easier to have a unified voice across your brand communication and to make a deeper connection with consumers you engage with.
Sadly, this isn’t the top answer for brands that do the bulk of their business via social media – the “Facebook is my website” set, who haven’t even bothered to install a phone line.
For them, social media fragmentation remains a big hurdle to overcome. Here’s how to clear it easily…
How to identify social media fragmentation in your own brand channels
Simply put, social media fragmentation is a case of too many fingers, typing on to many devices as the same brand.
Each individual has their own style of structuring sentences and adding emojis to their text, and each social media platform works differently and expects slightly different content, so when we veer off course from the template FAQ responses, there’s bound to be some discrepancy.
Now shift those respondents not just across the office space but across the country, continent or globe and you see the problem, as cultural differences also start to show up in the way we respond to text queries.
Econsultancy says fragmentation normally occurs when a new social platform launches with lots of tech press hype, so you feel you’ve missed the boat if you don’t immediately latch on to this “new audience.”
Fragmentation also happens in the next step, if the platform is adopted as part of your mix but not properly integrated as it doesn’t complement your existing social media set.
They also recommend a move Lush would approve of: Realising that the most complimentary social media platform of all is your destination website, as that’s where the true conversion magic will happen, beyond engagement and keeping the conversation going.
How to Take Action and Unite the Various Voices of Your Social Media Choir
Tillison Consulting says doing a great job on one platform is far more effective than doing a poor job on all of them, especially as businesses often feel pressure to be on all social platforms because they hear such great success stories.
So your brand’s first step would be to identify the specific social media platforms where your target audience is active, then ensure the content you share allows your brand personality to shine through and that everyone who comments as your brand is aware of what that means.
That way when you take the time to reflect on your social media efforts over the past year you’ll have a better sense of what’s actually worked, and what’s missed the mark altogether, and where you have opportunities to do more in future, because one thing’s certain about social media – it’s a case of constantly evolving your brand to meet what the platform offers, to give your consumers the best online brand experience.
You can further strengthen your social media brand personality by following the five key areas of social media audit as explained in our latest eBook Ultimate Guide to a Social Media Audit. Access it for free here.