By Adam Fraser.
If you live in Australia, especially a major city, you will know all about the national obsession with property.
Auction results are a dinner party staple. Knowing what your neighbour sold for essential info. Being up to date on house price trends an absolute must.
And, particularly before you make your first purchase, ongoing and painstaking consideration of whether to rent or buy.
Both camps have strong advocates, but one thing’s for sure – if you were building your dream home you wouldn’t do so on rented land.
In social, you also need to think carefully about your long term ‘investment’ strategy. Are you building audience, media assets and IP that you truly own? Or are you effectively renting, thus investing time and resource to build someone else’s media asset?
In this media segmentation, very often commentators include social platforms in the “owned” category.
After all you control what you post to your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages so they must be owned right?
Not so fast there mister…
Sure when you rent a house you can bring along your own furniture and put up your own posters. But the landlord controls the major asset. In the same way, the audience and contact details for that Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page belong to the social network. And these guys aren’t shy about changing the rules of engagement in their own interests.
Spending time and engaging on social networks to build up a following/audience absolutely does make sense but only as part of what I call the “hub and spoke” model. You need to use these platforms to drive traffic back to your mothership. A place you can truly call home.
Driving traffic back to your own proprietary media assets where you do exert control and can hopefully deepen the relationship with your potential customers should be one of your primary marketing goals on social media.
To understand why this makes sense, lets look at Facebook as an example. Many brands had invested significant time and money building their Facebook fans. Their audience. Only it wasn’t.
Facebook’s ongoing changes to its rules of engagement should be a constant reminder of this, but in particular their highly significant recent choke of organic reach really drove this point home. Some brands had enough at this point and broke up with Facebook.
Facebook decides when your fans see your organically generated content. Estimates vary, but on average only approximately 5% would now typically see this content (unless of course you want to pay to play). Yes, if you post engaging content this could be higher but the key thing is Facebook unilaterally determines this. They choke or release content based on their own interests (not yours).
The other social networks aren’t behaving in this way yet, but as their popularity grows and their streams become ever more congested, inevitably they too will have to “choke” what you see. Paying to play (ie advertising on these platforms, hence paid media) may – as with Facebook – become the only way to ensure your brand message is seen. Key point – you simply don’t know, nor do you exert any control over the decision making or strategy.
Do you need to play on social networks? ABSOLUTELY. Yes – engage with your audience and potential customers where they are spending time (which is now on social not traditional media). Inform, add value, entertain, answer questions, amplify your content, LISTEN. But always remember they ain’t really your audience whilst there. The analogy isn’t perfect but arguably we now have paid/owned/earned and rented media.
Your website hosted on your own domain…your blog…your newsletter email database…your podcast (a touch more complex but lets park that issue for now). Audience and IP controlled by you. A media asset being built.
This is where you can take your relationship further with your customers. Communicate, nurture, engage and yes eventually sell. Best of all you are master of your own destiny. You determine the rules of engagement in your own house. And social can absolutely be a big part of helping you to build these assets.
If your sole game is building an audience on someone else’s platform you remain extremely vulnerable to changes they make. Which may or may not be in your best interests. Some wise people referred to this as digital sharecropping some time ago.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google+ (the list goes on….). There are many key business reasons why you need to hang out in these places. One of which should be helping you to build your own media assets. Not theirs.