Why Do Some Brands Have A Problem With The 'F' Word?
January 14, 2014
There's no arguing that Mark Zuckerberg's platform is still the best social bet (for most brands) to touch fans in bulk and strengthen the assets they own. But the reality is that your audience is finding other – smaller - social platforms to use along with Facebook.
They are gravitating towards using Twitter and Instagram, while apps like Snapchat and Vine are appealing to the younger end.
What this means is that folks are splitting their time spent on social among platforms – forcing brands to really look at that one word, the big one, the "F word:"
For traditional media – we've been trained to care only about the big round cume numbers – not fragmented chunks of fans. So perhaps fragmentation – the 'F' word - for many isn't fully embraced since we can't place value on what we don't understand.
And because many think it's all about mass numbers, we've mistakenly transferred that philosophy to the social space. We believe social is about large numbers – like Facebook's 874 million monthly active users.
But social is really about serving and separating your brand from the pack.
And forget about apps like Snapchat – where your picture or video disappears within seconds. If you go off downloads, it "only"has about 30 million monthly active users. (Snapchat calls that number "low" but won't release their data just yet.)
There's also Vine – the app that lets users create and share 6-second stories via video. When they tweeted last fall they'd hit the 40 million registered users mark, some laughed at that number, even though it was one of the most downloaded apps of 2013.
There's this misconception that if something doesn't have Zuckerberg type numbers, it's not worth your brand's creative energy. But the danger in that thinking is that fans (albeit in smaller segments) are using these platforms and connecting socially - without you.
As I watch media brands, I wonder if there's another factor besides the lower "head count" that's keeping them away (or just lazy) on the smaller platforms.
Facebook was pretty easy for everyone to figure out how to "game." All it took was substandard content, such as winter weather memes or a silly Someecard to achieve "a lot of likes."
However, when brands tried out other social outlets, such as Twitter, they found out it was harder to manipulate.
First, it's because these are fragmented fans – not the mass Facebook numbers. A smaller audience is brutally honest. Your content or humor has to be greater than the common mindset we see play out on Facebook.
Secondly, with these smaller social platforms, unless you're a member of One Direction – you will find mediocrity is not rewarded.
The smaller social outlets demand that we are consistently present and connected in the moment with information, wit, wisdom, and great snark.
It's hard work earning attention on these platforms. Fans want better. And we have to believe the effort on these outlets matters, even if it doesn't directly contribute to the bottom line.
It was Howard Schultz, Starbucks' President and CEO, who put it best regarding that concept:
"Great brands are a culmination of intangibles that do not directly flow to the revenue or profitability of a company, but contribute to its texture. Forsaking them can take a subtle, collective toll."
Serving fans socially on their preferred platform (beyond Facebook) is one of those intangibles. We should embrace the notion that smaller chunks of fans on Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc...are also important to the overall picture.
There's nothing wrong with aiming for mass appeal - just don't dismiss the strength of fragmented fans, and the work it takes to complement the texture of your brand.
It's really these smaller social platforms that help enhance the fans' experience with you - creating memorable moments that keep them coming back for more.
But that's only fully realized when we value the "F word."
If you want to know the social brands your audience prefers, there's still time to sign up for Jacobs Media's Techsurvey10 which goes into the field this month. For more info, www.jacobsmedia.com/techsusrvey10
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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