We’re all aware that social media is an excellent tool available to us to better market our businesses. However, it’s important to note that social media isn’t everything and completely building your brand upon platforms like Facebook and Instagram is unwise. Why is this? Because building your brand on social media alone is equivalent to trying to build a home on the shifting sands of an island, it doesn’t work and eventually could result in your business’ demise. Social media platforms are constantly changing their algorithms. Instead of getting all technical, let us explain it this way:
If you know anything about World War II or have ever seen the Benedict Cumberbatch movie based on the work of Alan Turing, The Imitation Game then you may know a little something about the German Enigma. During WWII, the Germans would formulate different codes to communicate with one another about different attack plans and such. If you’ve seen The Imitation Game (spoiler alert!) then you know during the course of the film Alan Turing and his team work tirelessly everyday to try to break the enigma. Unfortunately, if they failed to break the code by the end of the day they had to completely start overt the next because the Germans changed their code daily.
Basically, social media algorithms are like the German Enigma, they’re constantly changing and are ridiculously unreliable. You may be hitting your stride on social media and converting sales left and right and then all the sudden… algorithms changes. Less people see your content, it’s harder to engage with users and after awhile… you fail!
Like we said; social media is an superb marketing tool, and there’s nothing wrong with using it! But we must remember the point of social media when it comes to our businesses.
Social media is suppose to act as the lighthouse to your website.
Something that can draw customers in but ultimately they’re ending up on your website to follow through with their purchase or booking.
There are several cases of businesses who relied too much on their social media influence and neglected their strong presence on a website. Here are a few cases of digital publishers that are no more because of social media.
LittleThings was a digital publishing company who earned a wide majority of their success through their Facebook feed. LittleThings was basically a publishing company who shared feel good stories and videos that users would share like crazy. Unfortunately LittleThings was a self funded company, so when Facebook changed their algorithm back in January, there was very little to fall back on.
The goal of Facebook’s new algorithm change was to portray more user posts on people’s timelines (people who they are friends with / non-businesses) rather than pages or advertisers (businesses). LittleThings prided themselves on being able to dodge other algorithm changes that Facebook has implemented in the past, but the one in January was too drastic too survive.
A potential problem LittleThings created for themselves was pushing out ALL their feel good content on Facebook. They never gave users a reason to visit their webpage. If all the content was at their finger tips on Facebook what was the point in ever needing to browse their webpage? LittleThings instead should definitely still have flexed their presence on Facebook, but not shown all their cards there. They should have only posted snippets or summaries of their stories and videos and then encouraged users to visit their website to “read more” or “watch the video.” Again, if they used Facebook in the way that it was suppose to be used then it would have simply served as their gateway to a still prosperous website.
Another casualty to the ever-changing Facebook algorithm is Render Media. You may not recognize the name Render Media, but you may know some of the publishing companies that are under them. Cooking Panda was a popular publisher who earned much of their success through posting quick recipe videos through their Facebook page. Opposing Views was a politics news website who also use to post much of their content through Facebook.
Render Media was quick to cast blame to Facebook and their recent change in their algorithm to prevent lower quality content from littering the timelines of Facebook users. According to The Wall Street Journal Render Media began laying off employees back in December, dwindling their 46 person staff down to only six.
Like LittleThings, Render Media relied too heavily on Facebook for traffic. In addition with the suggestions we made earlier, here’s another tip: put focus on your SEO.
When a business depends solely on social media to drive traffic to their website, then they’re just asking for a disaster to happen. Again, we aren’t hating on social media. There’s nothing wrong with using it in supplication to solid SEO tactics. If your website has a great ranking on Google then that is going to do wonders for your traffic. While Google’s algorithm also changes regularly, they are highly in favor of supporting high quality businesses, so their algorithms are likely to help rather than hurt you.
The Shift in Social Media and What it Means for You
At its basic genesis, social media was designed to help people connect with one another. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were initially meant to be a place where people could feel like they could express themselves and share what they like and dislike. Of course with these platforms being free to use, they had to make money somehow, so intro advertisements. However, lately these platforms are trying to go back to their roots: catering to the people rather than businesses.
This may be frustrating as business owners, but we must realize these platforms aren’t about us they are about people as a whole. We must build our brands on the solid grounds of our websites, making sure all the promoting we do points there. We must build our brands using the tools of other marketing techniques like SEO, following after the guidelines of Google, a platform better supported for businesses. We can use social media to bring people to us, but unless we want to end up like LittleThings or Render Media, we can’t let social media be our business’ foundation.