There is a lot going on with Social Media right now – with Big Tech throwing its weight around and pulling rank on accounts that don’t agree with its guidelines.
Many users are furious as accounts are being closed, freedom of speech is up for grabs, and suppression and censorship make its way into the conversations across the globe.
With Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube all pulling accounts, deleting content or fact checking posts – where does this leave us as personal users and business users of the big Social Media Platforms? What does it mean for us moving forward with our communications for 2022?
In the same boat really – if we want it to!!!!
Let’s unpack the business of Social Media – and our role in its success.
Once we understand how it actually operates and not how we want it to – we can come to it with a more informed choice – and work out whether we want to be a part of it or not!
Let’s dive in!
1. The Personal Account – why we all use Social Media today!
Connection has been the number one driving force to the popularity of Social Media. As humans – we need each other to survive and the social media giants have found a way to bring us closer together.
The NUMBER 1 reason people have stated that they use Social Media is to stay in contact with family and friends. We now spend on average 2 hours and 24 minutes per day networking across an average of 8 social media networks and messaging apps!!! With a population of 25 Million people, Australians are top fans of Facebook with 16 million of us using the platform each month!
Staying connected with family and friends is not the only reason we now use social media. As it has grown – so has its offering and things we can do on the platforms. We also now use Social Media to build community and find out things and be entertained!
As of end 2020 there are now over 10 million groups on Facebook worldwide. Many people use groups for recommendations or to find out about local news and events. On average 52% of Australian’s use Social Media as a source of news and 33% of Australians state they use Social Media when looking for information about a brand.
Looking towards 2021 – our personal experiences on Social Media won’t change a great deal. If the main reason you come to it is to keep in contact with friends and family, find a great deal and sell your wares in the local buy-swap-sell groups – and your contact falls within the guidelines of the platforms – you won’t notice too much disturbance to your experience.
The Guidelines are worth mentioning here – as they govern our use of the Social Media free platforms. We are all users of Social Media and each offering has its own operating procedures.
Check the bottom of this blog from Facebook’s and Instagram’s Guidelines of Use.
Without disregarding the importance of freedom of speech and our right to build communities as we choose, it is important to note that we are doing so on platforms not created by us. In that regard – we do not own what happens there. We are visitors – and by the end of this blog – much more informed visitors!
2. The Business Account – Your Powerful Tool for Business Growth.
At the time of writing the article I will make this statement – “Social Media is not going anywhere!”.
In fact, Facebook has been developing some MAJOR tools to help small business promote their products through its Ecommerce shop, data reporting and back end suggestions to help optimise business pages. Further, it is positioned to help creatives and gamers monetise their content through its Facebook Creator Studio inside Publishing Tools on each Business Page.
If you run a business – you need to be on Social Media – period. It is the new TV, the future of communications and the ONLY place Gen Z and Gen Y find out about brands and business. They conduct all their searches using their phones to connect with each other and the brands they like. Facebook’s biggest growing demographic is 65+ year old females. Instagram offers direct connection with the 29 year old and under demographic. Understanding how Social Media works, how you create content, videos and engagement on each platform will exponentially help you grow your business.
IF however, you wish to use the free space Social Media provides business to connect for conversations that go against platform policies, you may find yourself on the end of a penalised stick as the providers crack down on content that isn’t in line with THEIR business model.
NOW – we may not agree with this – and we can easily find ourselves caught up in the changing landscape of social media in terms of censorship and a type of muzzling BUT this article is about working WITH social media and getting the MOST out of it for your business for 2021 and beyond.
If you have a contentious issue, or if your business is of a contentious nature, using social media will have to be done carefully or not at all. AND that’s ok – because it allows you to focus your energy on places where you CAN use your voice. It also asks you to think about ways you can creatively use your voice on socials – so that you reach the right people and bring them off the apps and into your business – which is the WHOLE point of using Social Media in the first place!!!
From a business perspective – using both organic and paid services can be instrumental in building and growing SME’s exponentially. Understanding the rules of engagement will only benefit our cause. Social Media offers us an unparalleled opportunity to professionally connect with potential customers. If we come to the platforms with this in mind, and understand some of the things we can and can’t do as businesses – we can use this tool for what it really is – a tool!!!
3. The Social Media Platforms are Big Business – and have their own Agendas!
I have said this time and time again – get your followers off social media and into your business as quickly as possible!
Why – because the Social Media platforms have their own business model – and its impossible to run a business based on Mark Zuckerberg’s goals!
If we keep in mind that Facebook, Instagram Twitter, YouTube and all Social Media platforms are businesses at their core, we can then come to the platforms more aware of our role in someone else’s business!
Let’s take Facebook as an example. It offers its users a free platform to connect with others.
Its mission statement is “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”.
Facebook’s aim is to keep its users on the platforms for as long as possible. It does this by writing learning algorithms that collect data based on how you behave and interact inside the app. If you engage more with a friend, you will see their content more – because the algorithm believes you like this and will show you more of what you like to keep you there.
If you engage with a brand when you open the app, or certain types of video content, you will see this more often. Facebook will show you more of what it believes you like – which is why you may not have heard from a friend for a while!!!!
Why does it do this?
Because Facebook now makes its money by understanding its user behaviours so it can provide an ever-growing data base to marketers, advertisers and businesses (amongst other things) who pay the platform to advertise. The powerful data collection that Facebook (and the other platforms conduct) make it one of THE most powerful behavioral machines ever in existence!
Here’s a few mind-blowing numbers:
• Facebook is the largest of the Social Media platforms – with 2.7 billion monthly users worldwide (Q3 2020).
• There are now over 90 million businesses on Facebook at end 2019 .
• Facebook generated close to 69.66 billion U.S. dollars in ad revenue end 2019. Advertising accounts for the vast majority of the social network’s revenue.
Facebook collects data – and as a business we pay to use that data to sell to our customers. We use it to generate brand awareness where our customers hang out and we use it to generate income as influencers or ambassadors.
Facebook has a two-pronged business model:
1. Everyday Users who keep in contact with friends, create communities and love to be entertained.
2. Businesses who spend money on ads to talk to everyday users in ways that make a difference in their world.
It is generating a great user experience for its everyday users – so they keep coming back so that businesses can advertise to them so they can grow!
With this is mind – businesses are offered the opportunity to reach their customers where they hang out the most. Facebook (and all Social Media) have created platforms that every day users love to spend time with. Users have content on demand, access to friends, family and new networks, and are able to learn and create inside the platforms as well!
BUT – Social Media have their own rules of engagement – being their guidelines – of which they change as suits. This is not new, and we agree to this when we sign up and create accounts.
By using Social Media – we come to it under the guidelines of the companies that create them. Just like anything in business, we must understand the rules of the game!
4. The Social Media Mindset Shift
We do not control what happens on Social Media!
Social Media is a playground of which we have been invited to share in. It provides us with entertainment, the ability to connect with anyone in the world, and develop our businesses. BUT – it isn’t ours! We are simply bystanders and participants in a really really big lounge room!
Social Media comes with a set of rules (that change) that each platform creates. These guidelines spell out everything from privacy to data collection and give us the option to opt in or not. It’s the sheer number of people on Social Media that make us feel like we HAVE to be “on it” – but at the end of the day – we don’t!
You have the power to choose whether you will play in the Social Media game.
YOU ARE IN CONTROL!
Connect with me below and let me have your thoughts on this topic!
Please also find the Facebook and Instagram Guidelines below!
Facebook’s guidelines can be found at https://www.facebook.com/policies
Instagram’s Guidelines can be found here https://www.facebook.com/help/instagram/477434105621119/