The social media landscape has changed rapidly.
Elon Musk’s mercurial changes at X prompt a lot of discussion. So do government proposals to ban TikTok. YouTube added Shorts to compete with TikTok. Meta added Threads as an alternative to X. Every platform changes its algorithm to accommodate its latest business model.
How do you update your social media strategy with all that’s happening? Do you even need to change it?
That’s the question posed to the experts presenting at Content Marketing World. They didn’t disappoint, sharing ideas that range from the audience to the content to the process.
Follow your people
Savvy creators and social media teams should be following what their followers are doing. Each audience will respond to the shifting social media ecosystem in different ways. Pay attention to communities, such as Discord servers, Reddits, or Circle groups; these semi-open spaces appear to be growing in popularity. – Jesse Harris, digital marketing coordinator, ACD/Labs
Delve into personas
Study your target personas’ social media behavior and keep tabs on how these preferences are changing. You can do this anecdotally through conversations with sales, periodically asking customers (trade shows are a great place for this), or referencing industry research where social media behavior is studied. – Wendy Covey, co-founder and CEO, TREW Marketing
When it comes to mitigating volatility in your social media strategy, turning to private social media communities is the way to go. Platforms like Slack, Discord, and Telegram offer fantastic opportunities.
Discord, in particular, shines when it comes to community building. Its core promise revolves around fostering communities, while Slack leans more toward being a workspace management solution, and Telegram focuses on messaging.
If you’re considering establishing a community for your audience, Discord should be on your radar. The beauty of Discord lies in the fact that it’s not mediated by AI, offering a more authentic and organic experience. Plus, you’ll find a substantial number of users already thriving within its vibrant ecosystem. Take advantage of this platform’s potential for community building and engagement. – Christopher Penn, chief data scientist, TrustInsights.ai
Go where impact is greater
We’re advising our clients to spend less time and budget on social. The impact of social media is much less than most people realize. Our own research across hundreds of websites tells us social media only generates 2% of traffic and leads for most companies. Paid is also only 2%. Organic search is still at 60%. Focus your effort where the people are willing and ready to engage. – Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group
Audit your social content regularly
The team should have regular meetings to review what’s working and what’s not in their current social media strategy and also to examine the writing on the wall for what’s to come and consider when they’ll know if a change is necessary and what that might look like so they won’t be scrambling when something happens like a mass exodus from a platform or platform being banned. – Ruth Carter, evil genius, Geek Law Firm
Be nimble and responsive
Continuous monitoring and flexible adaptation are key in navigating a very fickle social media landscape. Brands may need to diversify their social media portfolio to enable continuous distribution as audiences migrate during those times of volatility. They should also continue to invest in their owned and operated channels, such as their website, blog, and email list, so they can stay in contact with their customers no matter where the wind blows. In any case, brands must stay updated with changes in regulations, platform policies, and user behaviors and adjust their strategy accordingly. – Karen McFarlane, chief marketing officer, LetterShop x KMC
Try new things quickly
Keep experimenting. Make fewer assumptions. Beware of your own biases.
The more things change, the more risk we all have of adapting too slowly. Teams that stay curious and open to trying new tools, platforms, and formats will have the best results. Jump in quick. If something doesn’t work, quit and move on. – Andy Crestodina, co-founder and CMO, Orbit Media Studios
Focus on what you own
I think there should be more of a focus on owned media. Yes, you’ll still want to keep social media in the mix, but if you focus on your blog and content created for your site, then add in the social channels where your audience spends time (for B2B clients, that’s LinkedIn), that can be a winning combination.
Further, I’d advise content teams to work with their PR teams to help get even more mileage from their owned content by turning it into earned media. Public relations professionals can place customer stories, thought leadership pieces, and more as earned media news and stories. Why not get as much visibility as you can for each piece of content you create? Really, content, social, and PR should all be collaborating to make the most of each effort. – Michelle Garrett, consultant and writer, Garrett Public Relations
Make a tasty sandwich
Have your social strategies complement your owned platform strategies; they should go together like peanut butter and jelly. Create social content that’s so great – people can’t resist subscribing to get more. Use social for listening and learning to craft the best content and offerings. – Adrienne Sheares, owner, ViviMae Labs
Ask for emails
Rather than building a community on rented land, start fostering a community on owned land. Host coffee chats, dinners, and meetups. Use platforms like Slack or Discord to coordinate gatherings and stay connected, but be sure to build an email list of your community members. That’s where the owned land part of the strategy takes hold. – Dennis Shiao, founder, Attention Retention
Stick to the strategic differentiator
Social media strategies are an outgrowth of your marketing strategy, your culture, and your company’s brand position. There will always be another platform to move to so long as your strategy is steeped in what is uniquely differentiating and authentically meaningful to your target customer. – Tiffany Grinstead, vice president, Nationwide
Make it about principle
Content strategies for social media must be principle-based and not platform-based. Yes, we do need to adjust for the platform, but ideally, a company is so clear in who they are, what works for them, and what they’re trying to be that they take those qualities from platform to platform. – Marcus Sheridan, vice president, Marcus Sheridan
Don’t do the eggs-basket thing
Don’t overinvest in any one platform. Stay nimble. Take advantage of the tools and best practices today, but don’t be surprised – or caught off guard – if/when they’re gone tomorrow. Twitter and TikTok are just the latest social media implosions. It’s so easy to forget in the midst of day-to-day content management; there once was MySpace, Vine, Tumblr, Friendster, and Google+. Snapchat used to be the big thing. Slow down, optimize your content for your audiences, and don’t feel like you need to put all your eggs in any one basket. The only constant in social media is change. – Jennifer Harmon, content strategist and creator, Convince & Convert
Make it about people and content
The best way to future-proof your social strategy is to focus less on the medium and more on the message and audience. Understand the changing demographics of the various channels and adjust your investments to follow the evolving channel preferences of your audience. Also, focus on great storytelling – which works on every channel – with adaptations for each particular channel. Stay laser-focused on your audience and your message, and you’ll be better prepared to ride the inevitable waves of volatility ahead, no matter which channels your audience leads you to. – Monica Norton, head of content marketing, Yelp
Build a fan base
Now more than ever, it’s important to showcase a clear brand point of view and create irresistible content. Just like those TV shows that were given a second life because of their loyal fan bases (like The Expanse, which got picked up by Prime Studios after it was dropped by SyFy), brands whose content is valuable and memorable will find that their customers will be willing to seek them out on new platforms. – Zontee Hou, director of strategy, Convince & Convert
Content teams should be open to expanding their database of evergreen content. You want to have ready and easy-to-use content that can work on various social channels in the case that a specific social media app is under scrutiny. – Leanna Pham, head of creative and social, Convince & Convert
Go for the creator, not the platform
I think that companies need to start thinking outside their own social feeds and engage with content creators more. Strong creators who have an affinity with your brand will most likely work on multiple channels, and the death of one will not mean the death of them all.
There’s one thing that we’ve seen time and time again – when social media platforms start looking for easy ways to increase profits, they’ll limit the organic exposure of businesses in an effort to get them to pay. Engaging with strong creators is the best strategy because it diversifies your reach. – Inbar Yagur, co-founder and CEO, Radical – B2B Tech Marketing
Whatever you do, don’t make a pronouncement
One thing is clear: You must pay attention to social media even if you opt out of or reduce your presence. You never know what might change that could help – or hurt – your brand.
But as the headlines talk about Twitter, TikTok, Meta, and more, follow this piece of advice: Don’t try to make headlines about your brand’s social media strategy.
As Adam Pierno, managing director of brand strategy at Arizona State University, says, “Brands get into unnecessary trouble in announcing any updates to their approach. If there’s a troubling platform, and your brand wants to pause there, just pause. Don’t put out a press release. No one will notice, and you’ll avoid most of the real or manufactured outrage.”
What is your brand doing around social media today? Is it different or similar to your strategy from a year ago? Please tag us #CMWorld on social.
Please note: All tools mentioned in this article were suggested by a contributor to the article. If you’d like to suggest a tool, share the article on social media with a comment.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute