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The Great Disconnect On Public Social Networks

We’ve seen gigantic growth of Facebook fan pages over the years and the top 50 corporate brands on Facebook as of December, 2013 had a collective 1.43 BILLION fans who “liked” them!

At first glance, that looks like a wonderful thing for brands. The “fish where the fish are” philosophy seems to have paid off.

Unfortunately, that’s simply just not the reality. The reality is that Facebook is a business and it is implementing a squeeze on “organic reach” to force brands to pay to reach their “fans”. Organic reach is effectively going to zero (or 1% – 2%, to be precise).

Marshall Manson at Ogilvy wrote a great post about this, entitled Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach.

“The ability to build communities of fans, and then maintain contact and encourage engagement using content published to fans’ News Feeds was a critical aspect of Facebook’s early appeal to marketers. The opportunity of achieving engagement at scale motivated many brands and corporates to invest millions in developing communities and providing for care and feeding via always-on content.” ~Marshall Manson

So what to do now that this major disconnect on Facebook has become reality?

The other public networks like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, … are sure to follow. After all, they are all businesses that have to generate revenue and income to justify their multi billion dollar valuations.

Now that all these “fans” exists on all the public social networks / platforms, do brands simply now start to pay Facebook, Twitter, et al to reach their customers? It’s the classic bait-and-switch reminiscent of Wall Street shenanigans.

We’ve arrived at a major departure point and I have been preaching the following message for the past 5 years: Brands need to be wary of the public social platforms and use these public platforms to enhance their strategy rather than BE their digital (social) strategy!!

Companies grow by establishing and nurturing successful, deep, emotional connections and relationships with their customers. Ultimately, the only way to achieve this is to shift away from the public platforms where you are a) subject to 3rd party terms of service, and b) do not own the relationships or customer data on those platforms.

It’s not about breadth of reach, it’s about depth of engagement. Its about control of the holistic, customer experience.

Yes, the public networks are great prospecting tools and awareness raising tools for brands but when you want to build a holistic, integrated customer experience that nurtures those deep, emotional relationships, you need to have ownership of all the touch-points across that experience. That will also allow you to go back and mine that data to extract insights that can yield even better results.

Own your own private, branded customer engagement platform where you ultimately control the relationships, the data, the conversations and can build true, lasting value for your customers.