As social networks continue to throttle the organic reach of business accounts, many business owners have either sunk in despair or wasted time shaking their fists or complaining.
In this episode of our popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Stone Temple’s Mark Traphagen explains why he thinks we can’t totally blame the social networks for these changes, and how they could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for smart marketers.
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Eric: Mark, a lot of businesses and social media managers seem discouraged these days. Some of the most prominent social networks seem to be throttling their ability to reach their fans, sometimes down to almost zero, in the case of Facebook.
Mark: That’s true, Eric. Although, I don’t blame the social networks.
Eric: No? Why not?
Mark: Because they’re businesses and they have every right to look out for the health of their business, and as in most businesses, that means looking out for the needs of the customers. And, newsflash, your business page is not their customer, unless you’re paying for advertising.
Eric: Aren’t the users the customers?
Mark: Well, not directly. The odd thing about social media is the network looks out for its paying customers, the advertisers, by looking after the needs of the users, real people who have accounts and use the networks for free to stay informed, keep up on and in touch with their friends, and be entertained. Now, social networks know they need to keep those people happy so they’ll keep coming back to that network, providing more eyeballs for the advertisers.
Eric: So, what does that have to do with throttling the reach of the business pages?
Mark: Social networks watch the behavior of their users very carefully. They sometimes survey them, as well. In the case of Facebook, they pay attention to what scientific studies tell them. The overwhelming conclusion from all of that is that the kind of content most business pages post has little to no interest to their users, and according to a number of studies, actually makes those users unhappy and more likely to quit the network.
Eric: So, how can you say that this is a blessing in disguise for businesses?
Mark: First, because of what a great many businesses were doing on social media was of little value anyway. It was a never-ending chase after low-value engagement, such as likes. In order to increase that engagement, many were indulging in empty calories, in junk content that was meant merely to shock or mislead the user. But, that kind of content does nothing to build the reputation of the brand and affinity with the users.
Now, more positively, I’m hoping that more businesses now will turn to things where organic social media really works well for the users, such as truly useful content that informs or helps users, and content that makes users want to think and engage in real conversations, not just clicking a Like button and moving on.
Eric: In other words, doing real marketing.
Mark: Precisely. Beyond that, social media has proven value for customer service and for building relationships with key customers, influencers, and potential business partners.
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