Q: Social Media? A: Share this!
A plethora of pitches
There are many companies out there that will sell you potential, after all it’s easier to sell that than the truth, especially when it comes to social media. If, for example, I promised to give your product or service exposure to 50% of internet users worldwide, (That’s 1.2 billion people) how can I go wrong? The solution is simple, I would be promoting the potential reach of a single social media site, Facebook, with some severe spin.
I have seen this line, or similar, coming from web designers, digital marketing specialists, social media account managers, community managers, social media specialists (and a whole host of other job titles given to people) in web design, marketing, digital marketing, social media and public relations agencies.
So what’s wrong with this?
Well the figures may well be reliable, but as all perspective purchasers need to be aware, figures need teasing and context. So let’s examine this further (Sources are linked).
Pew notes that “71% of internet users are on Facebook “, already there appears a discrepancy, but note the Facebook definition of ‘active users’. So I’ll stick to Facebook’s numbers on this.
So could my company really have a potential reach of 1.2 billion people if I share my posts on Facebook? Well, for a start, how many languages are you going to translate your posts into? If your post is written in English only, then you have cut your potential audience size down by 73% immediately. So from a potential of 1.2 billion the figure shrinks to 282.5 million.
Then you should consider the frequency of usage of the platform by users. My mum is a Facebook users but rarely logs in. As Pew notes, 70% of Facebook users log in daily. So a further shrinkage, to 197.7 million. That’s a hefty revision on the original pitch.
But that’s fine surely, it still represents a massive potential market? Well no. We are then faced with a question of context.
How social is it?
The average American may well spend 40 minutes a day on Facebook but what do they do there? Are they busily looking out for your cause, your product, your service, amongst the pictures of cats? Is your content engaging enough? Are the users using the new News Feed Controls “to show you the stories that matter most to you”? Will your company be one of the lucky chosen 30?
By now you may be agreeing with Robert Wynne on Forbes who wrote Rule 4: Avoid Facebook, though, as he points out, Facebook can and does provide opportunities and benefits for a company posting there. But any decision to use it, or any other social media platform, has to be carefully, strategically considered, and potentially rejected. Not every communications or PR plan needs a Social Media Strategy.
If you need to utilise social media, then first consider do you really want to be social, or merely transactional? Can you effectively measure and monitor your Return On Investment? And finally, do you really need to ‘share this!’ or can you find something more engaging instead?