Twitter is dying, my fellow staff writer Jeremy wrote recently. He explained why ChurchMag has decided to focus on Facebook as a primary social medium. I couldn’t agree more, but I’d like to offer a bigger picture to what’s happening in social media, and how this should impact your social media strategy. Whether you’re acting as an individual, or on behalf of a church, organization, or company, how you view social media should influence your strategy.
An Example: Twitter
Twitter is certainly not doing well, and many users are complaining. I’ve been active on Twitter since 2011, so I certainly wasn’t an early adopter. But I fell in love with this medium quickly. I made real friends through Twitter—people I connected with online first, before building a friendship in real life as well. I’ve made many useful connections as well, and my blog benefitted from Twitter-referrals for certain.
The last years, something has changed. Twitter has become more commercial, less relational. There’s been a shift towards promoting, instead of connecting. It’s certainly more spammy and less honest. There’s a ton of trolling going on, with troll accounts opening and shutting routinely.
As a result, real connections are far and between, and many are inundated with spam and sales-stuff. I see far fewer replies to my tweets, and certainly way less response to the content I put out there—both my own stuff and useful links I tweet from others.
If your social media strategy was or is based on Twitter, you’re in trouble. You’re probably seeing very little ‘return on investment’ here. So what do now?
The Bigger Picture
The bigger picture is this: no social medium is here to stay. Plus, equally important, all social media are subject to change. All. The. Time. Any strategy that relies solely on one platform or strategy is bound to fail.
Twitter may be struggling, but other social media have failed completely—sometimes after a spectacular success. Look at MySpace, Vine, StumbleUpon, and others. Periscope, the live streaming app owned by Twitter, is struggling as well after a very promising start.
Facebook is still going strong, but many have trouble using it for promotional purposes. Many organizations report trouble with their reach. It used to be that fans (those who likes a page) would see all updates, but that’s long gone. Brands, people, and organizations that used to get hundreds of likes and responses on a post, now only get a few.
This is why you cannot make a social media strategy for the future based on any social medium that’s working right now. Who knows what will work three months from now, let alone a year or longer.
Social Media Strategy in an Ever-Changing Landscape
What does this mean practically speaking? Let me give a few guidelines for your social media strategy.
In the current digital landscape things change fast, and as a result, your strategy should be highly adaptable. Simply put: you can’t make an iron-clad plan for more than, say, three months.
Example: When Facebook acquired Instagram, Twitter changed how it showed Instagram pics. What worked before, suddenly changed. If a change like that happens, you need to be able to change your strategy right away.
Because things change so fast, constant monitoring of your strategy is crucial. You need to know what’s still working and what isn’t.
Example: many users were caught unaware when Facebook changed its algorithm a while ago that ‘punished’ automated posts from external apps. Those who kept an eye on their stats knew.
This is a tricky one because you can go a few different routes. If there’s a new social medium on the horizon that’s suddenly hot, it’s fine to jump on the bandwagon and use it to your advantage. But: be careful how much time and money you pour into new fads. Be prepared, for these fade as quickly as they rise.
Example: Periscope. ‘Nuff said.
Another route is to focus on a few social media at the same time, thus spreading out your efforts. That way, if one of them fails, you have a fall back-strategy. The downside is that this is time-consuming, and you could be spreading yourself too thin.
A solid compromise is to focus on other ways of connecting with potential ‘customers’ instead of solely on social media. Any promotional strategy that over-heavily relies on social media is bound to take a huge hit at some point.
4. Relationships, Relationships
It bears repeating ad nauseam, but building relationships should be at the core of your strategy. That way, if the medium you use fails, your fans will still be able to find you. They’ll probably still be loyal to you, and will actively search new ways to connect. If you primarily focus on people, and not on promoting and selling, you’ll get connections that last. That, my friends, is the single best strategy in the long term.