Why Following The Social Media Masses Is A Mistake

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How many times have you heard someone say this:

“Facebook, with a billion plus users, is most definitely where your brand should be… just based on the numbers alone!”

It’s a compelling statement. [Here are some other compelling social media stats] It makes you feel as if you’d be stupid NOT to use Facebook since all of those people are just sitting there waiting to hear from YOU about YOUR BRAND.

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But are they really? Lately with all of the Facebook changes — and the ever-looming presence of EdgeRank — I’ve noticed our numbers steadily dwindling. Reach is dismal and sharing is nearly nonexistent!

However, other platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are doing well for us. We’re steadily growing and starting to have compelling conversations – not to mention getting qualified leads to place in our pipeline.

So the question remains: Is following the social media masses a mistake?

Oooh, SHINY!

While I’m all for the testing of social platforms as they become popular (think: G+, Instagram and Vine), I’m not a proponent of jumping on every “new and shiny” platform and staying there.

This dilutes your social efforts. And it looks especially bad when you start on a platform and then leave it by the wayside, as outlined on this article by Business 2 Community on the “10 Top Brands with the Worst Google Plus Pages“.

If you’re testing out a platform and any of the following happen:

  • Unable to post frequently
  • Unable to build healthy following
  • Unable to interact; no conversations taking place
  • No engagement by others on your posts

you may want to reconsider this platform. If it’s “you” and not “them” (see bullet points 1 and 2 above), consider coming back to the platform when you have enough time to build a strategy for using it correctly.

Audience Attention Matters Most

Here’s my take: while numbers may not “lie” or provide an irresistible reason for you to join a particular platform,  I’d rather be where my audience is.

And even if there are a billion people on Facebook – it doesn’t mean you have to be there. I think the most important gauge of any platform is how the conversation is going. Not how many followers you have… not how many retweets or shares you receive (GO DEEPER)… it’s more about how many conversations you are having on the platform.

I’ll be the first to admit that Google Plus has been a struggle for me. And like any other platform, the more I put in, the more I get out. As with anything, it takes a true commitment to see any sort of tangible results.

And you only get back what you put in.

Take The Leap!

So, I say let’s all take the leap. Let’s make a promise to check out which platforms our audiences are on, AND where we talk with them the most. Let’s focus on those platforms — whether they’re Facebook or not — and then decide “should I stay or should I go?”

What about you? Do you prefer safety in numbers (the masses), or is your audience and conversation where you give most of your attention?

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

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Brooke Ballard

Brooke Ballard

Founder & Chief Digital Strategist at B Squared Media, LLC
Like many of you, Chief Digital Strategist and Founder of B Squared Media, Brooke Ballard, has seen a fundamental shift in business due to social media. How do businesses take advantage of this? Where do they start? Is social media for everyone? In-the-trenches online media experience helps B Squared Media answer these questions for companies seeking to formulate successful social strategies. Using tactics developed in her yearlong honors thesis study, Brooke helps bright and innovative entities develop social strategies around content, community, conversation, collaboration, and conversion. Simply put: Think Conversation, Not Campaign.™ Click here to subscribe to my mailing list
Brooke Ballard
Brooke Ballard
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  1. Daniel Hebert says:

    Great article Brooke! I went through a similar exercise with InNetwork last summer – we're a B2B company.

    I surveyed a few of our clients and prospects about their online behaviour. One question was: "Where do you hang-out most online?" Since a lot of our prospects are 23-28 year old women, a common theme was Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook (in that order). So we could have decided to focus our attention on these three networks, but we didn't.

    We went a step further and asked: "Where do you consume the most industry related information online?" Here's where the answers really differed. Industry publications/blogs were #1. Twitter and LinkedIn were the preferred social networks. They also read industry experts/thought leaders. So this is where we focused our strategy – build out our Twitter presence, focus our lead gen on LinkedIn, focus on building our own blog with industry thought leaders writing for us, and the next step is getting our message on industry related blogs/publications!

    We even asked if they ever consumed any industry related information on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and they all said no. Facebook and Instagram is to keep in touch with friends and family, and Pinterest is for inspiration – our prospects like trendy stuff, fashion, travel, fitness, and food, so Pinterest is meant to consume that type of info.

    When you really dig deep into where your prospects are, but better yet, what their behaviours are on the different networks, then you really get something in return. Everyone's on Facebook, but do they use it the way you want them to? :)
    My recent post The Rhythm of Content Marketing

    • b2brookeballard says:

      That's incredible, Daniel, and I for one would love to see those steps outlined in an article or downloadable checklist! ;-)

      I love that you didn't stop after the 1st question and kept the investigation going. I'm curious as to how you implemented this … was it a survey(s) or phone call(s)?

      Anyhow, InNetwork is certainly setting the path for those who want to be taken seriously on social media. Kudos to you and your team for doing it RIGHT!

      • Daniel Hebert says:

        I'm in the process of working on a few posts around these ideas. I might split it in a few posts, then do an e-book type for download for the whole series :)

        We did phone calls and face-to-face interviews. We're lucky that both of our offices are within the same buildings as full-service agencies, which is our target group :). We needed to probe further, and add/change some of our questions based on their answers, so interviews were best. Use some of your top clients for the interview – if they like you, they will be more than willing to give you 15-20 mins of their time to answer a few questions.
        My recent post Mentor Me PR Series: 7 Tips To Strengthen Personal Brand

        • b2brookeballard says:

          AWESOME SAUCE. Can't wait to see what you come up with – please keep me posted! Great advice here … I hope people read these comments!

    • Daniel, that was so smart! Thanks for sharing your results with us.

      Such a good point. I'm probably most comfortable on Facebook, but even I don't keep track of too much business information there. Like Brooke, I struggle with Google+, but know I need to keep on plugging – the small efforts I've made have been more rewarding than what I've done on Facebook!
      My recent post How Images Get More Traffic to Your Blog

      • b2brookeballard says:

        Thanks for reading and commenting, Alisa (and pinning, too!). I think Facebook is our comfort zone and we're apt to pick what is "safe". However, lately (like you) I've been getting MUCH better results on other platforms. Imagine if I stopped wasting time on FB and actually started spending MORE time on the platforms that are getting better results??? Lightbulb. Moment.

      • Daniel Hebert says:

        Depending on which industry you're in, Facebook might or might not be the best place to market. If you're a consumer good, like food, then yeah, it can make sense. Pinterest and Instagram would make even more sense. But if you're selling sales solutions to CMOs, good luck generating leads on Facebook, even though everyone uses it.

        It's not about IF your audience uses the network, it's about HOW the audience uses the network.
        My recent post Do Your Fans, Friends, and Followers Actually Care About Your Content?

  2. Amen to this Brooke! I couldn't agree more with your statement, "while numbers may not “lie” or provide an irresistible reason for you to join a particular platform, I’d rather be where my audience is."

    It's not about spreading yourself out, it's about identifying where your potential clients are spending their time and then mastering that particular network. Shiny object syndrome is rampant and unfortunately can be attributed to many giving up way too soon. I'd rather start small, stay focused and build a loyal following on one network then completely overwhelm myself marketing all over the web to people who could care less about my product or service.
    My recent post How to Convert Social Media Leads into Paying Customers

    • b2brookeballard says:

      So true, Rebekah! I've had so many issues with the fan favorite lately (FB). It seems the harder we try the worse things get. And at a glimpse of similar brands, their #s are low, too. I keep trying to tell myself that it's not worth it. I'd rather go where the conversation is. Of course, thinking, saying and doing are three totally different things!
      I hope to pull the strings soon…

  3. I like the message of this one. Facebook to me is getting crowded with a lot of niches finding paid posts more and more to the clutter. Thanks for this, you have given me an initiative to push for our companies Google+ and Linkedin. My bosses are kind of late when it comes to Social marketing and they think facebook is the way to go, but just as you said, other social platforms are gaining more and more steam. Something to look forward to as to get a head start for 2014. Thanks!

    • b2brookeballard says:

      You're most welcome, illahernandez! I'm glad this message spoke to you and hopefully we can all leave our security blanket (FB) behind for some REAL conversation and SOCIAL media. :-)

  4. I think it depends on your audience. I just did a FB campaign that reached over 100K people in the first week. But that's because the demographic for that client is on FB. Whereas, I've done similar campaigns for clients whose audiences are not necessarily there (like B2B), and it's been not as successful.

    Facebook is a place to inspire communities/tribes, not a place to advertise or sell your products. That most likely won't work for many, b/c as you say, most people aren't on FB to get marketed to, they're on FB to connect with friends/family/causes they are passionate about. You have to not only look at WHERE your audience is but how they consume & share the content on that network about your industry. Often times, it's not equal. Just because people consume on one network, doesn't mean they share on that network. I often consume things on LinkedIn that I tweet, for example.

    My recent post Pinterest adds Place Pins for Local Businesses

    • b2brookeballard says:

      Great points, Tracy. I think we all share the same sentiment and that's a good sign! Thank you for adding your insight.

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