Social Media: A Balancing Act

For a brand, finding balance in an ever evolving media landscape can be challenging. Mostly because the way consumers behave on social channels is unbalanced. To truly understand the market it’s important for any brand to acknowledge that some consumers are using social media as a means to make purchasing decisions and some are simply looking for the latest grumpy cat video.

Facebook, for instance, started as an online group chat between friends in specific colleges and universities. As it’s evolved, a surplus of content has flooded it. There was a time when one of the pages I managed received over 100 updates within minutes. Luckily, Facebook now has algorithms in place to serve users the content they want to see.

Facebook users (brands and consumers) created an oversharing problem that even Facebook’s most sophisticated algorithms can’t fix. Users started abandoning the crowded Facebook ship and switched to other platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. At the moment, organic reach dominates the “newer” platforms. While there are some paid opportunities, they aren’t as abundant as Facebook. One advantage Facebook does offer is the longevity of a post. With a simple search or click, users can find historical data on a Facebook page dating back to the inception of the page. Memories are key here.

On a good day, the average tweet’s lifespan is around 18 minutes. Lately brands and news outlets have adopted a new strategy that allows them to push the most important tweets on the top of their profiles multiple times throughout the day. They do understand the risk of overlapping audience, but in terms of perishable content, it’s likely that very few people will be served the same message more than once. Additionally, it doesn’t feel like an advertisement rather a reminder of what is important at that time. On the other side, Twitter is incredibly challenging to search and if you miss a post, good luck trying to find it. If Twitter really understands the fleeting nature of messaging, and the average consumer’s attention span, what other platforms could you possible need?

Instagram. Because, everyone is famous on Instagram. Instagram posts receive roughly the same lifespan of Twitter. On average users share over 58 million tweets and 58 million photos on Instagram per day. Right now, Twitter’s growth is slowing while Instagram is on the rise. However, Instagram recently launched a series of branded ads, which leads us to believe they are headed in the same overcrowded, overcluttered and over-advertised audience Facebook has experienced. So, will we leave yet another platform to find the most organic content?

In comes Snapchat… and leaves in 10 seconds or less. Snapchat’s effectiveness comes from its unique ability to share perishable content. It’s really grasped the here now, gone tomorrow mentality. Especially with younger audiences who live with the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out). Snapchat allows the user to be the center of attention in his or her own story, which is one of the many reasons why Snapchat is more popular among the younger generation. As for the stories shared by friends, the user can skip them with a click. There are still Snapchat ads, but you’re not forced to watch them. Tap the screen and poof! They’re gone.

So what does this mean for a brand? It means balance. A healthy mix of engaging content, well placed and designed advertisements and a deep understanding of the longevity of your message can go far. The best social marketers not only update and engage multiple times per day, but they vary the content understanding each message can’t reach an entirety of audience. But multiple messages that are crated to target a variety of audiences can have lasting effects and achieve brand awareness.