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Managing risks of Social Media-strategies
Social Media offer effective access to high interest (potential) customers. Brands and stores have however learned that the days are over in which you could grow that audience organically. Great content helps to collect followers, but it’s not sufficient anymore. Sometimes, a post reaches less than 5% of your own followers if it is not ‘boosted’. Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, their copycats and challengers make very clear they are the gatekeepers: Access costs money (in the form of advertisements and alike). It’s their business model.
Mind you that ‘Access’ means ‘one-time access’. Next time you’d want to reach a similar audience, you will have to pay again. People that view your content are explicitly not your customers, but Facebook’s (and Twitter’s, and your local network’s, etc), including their (behavioral) data.
When social media companies change things
This is a huge risk for marketers when social media companies update their terms, fees or methods. Facebook has updated access to their API over 50 times just in the last 5 years alone. Mostly restrictive. Often that is to protect the privacy of users, but marketers that think this is the main reason could be slightly naïve about that. The motive mostly seems to be related to further optimize you paying for access to these people you would want to have looking at your content and clicking towards your site.
When social media companies are forced to change things
Another risk of following a social media marketing advertisement strategy is that circumstances around social media will probably change more drastically in the coming years. Facebook and peers have been under fire for the extreme impact on society caused by their algorithms. Legislators feel a growing need to react. Tik Tok’s existence in the US was close to being wiped away while it has already disappeared in India, something that no-one suspected just 6 months earlier. There are joint efforts of larger groups of politicians to force facebook to change data ownership and algorithms and you might not always like the outcome for your marketing goals.
Access to your core audience is better ‘owned’. If only fees would change, you can still achieve your goals by paying more (if your budget allows), but if methods or terms change, you could loose access to (a part of) your audience, at least on the short run. A bit similar to what happens when Google updates its search algorithm and your organic visits suddenly evaporate.
Companies that saw that happen in the past often have taken action and have built a strong member program that allows them to not only have paid access to their own customers, but also direct and guaranteed access. Unconditional access to their customer’s eyes and data.
This is one of the strategic reasons to seduce social media audiences to convert to membership as much as possible. A second argument is that your investments in ads can grow into an ‘owned’ asset for the longer term. Experienced marketers see their ROI grow over time as access to members is much more cost effective than advertising, and delivers better results and more valuable data as well.
Use social media extensively as a channel to grow your ‘owned audience’ and don’t solely rely on it for your revenue stream, as this strategy is too risky with expected changes ahead in 2021 and 2022. Prepare today and build a strong member program to keep a (cost-effective) access to your core audience and to grow your marketing ROI.