Everyone's noticed, it’s getting noisy out there on social media. On top of all the chatter, Facebook (soon LinkedIn and Twitter too) want you to pay to get content in front of your own followers! That’s a scary picture for marketers who have put a considerable amount of effort into building a loyal following on these channels.
Consumers, and especially millennials, are getting tired of brands intruding their social interactions and are fleeing to anonymous networks like Snapchat and Whisper. Others found the promise of an ad free network they were looking for in Ello.
What used to work just doesn’t work anymore. A supersized follower base on social media won't even do the trick. The only way to gain traction is to either give up and pay, or hire an army of smart people who analyze every single one of your posts to nail the secret formula. Unfortunately, not every business has the means of BuzzFeed.
That being said, will the current combination of optimized content and "pay to play" last? When comparing the two, it seems clear that the trend of "pay to play" will eventually become the more dominant of the two. Especially when considering that engineered engagement took a hit a few months ago when Facebook announced that they will be cracking down on click baiting.
The lines are blurring between earned, owned and paid media. Your social media channels (or their social media channels I should say), which you thought you owned, are rented without a lease at best. Your only savior is the truly owned media, those that you have total control over.
LinkedIn recently updated their terms of service to point out that you own your content. But owning content in their own terms only means that they will not sell it without your permission, and that you will be free to delete or republish it elsewhere. That's a move in the right direction from their part, but that is not real ownership.
In order to truly own media, you must control the experience. Create a home for your content where YOU decide which content you want featured. A place where you can showcase your earned social media mentions, original or curated, and snackable or long form content.
In 2015, you must build your own community on top of the content experience and own the communication channel. Grow a contact list of engaged readers, users and advocates, and use their permission wisely to continue the conversation with no middleman. Remember, email is a protocol, not a private network, so no one can take its reach away from you.
Last but not the least, in 2015 you must treat social media channels like a place where content is distributed/promoted and where feedback is heard, not a place for your content to live.
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