Facebook is not your Friend

Here’s a scenario- stop me when it sounds familiar. An employee sets up a business Instagram handle then they leave without giving you the email or password information. A year later you decide that maybe you want to give Instagram a go after all and want to retrieve that account. Yep. There’s no way to do that. Go to the platform and you’ll eventually land on this “helpful” article advising you to  contact your ISP. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are little better. Run afoul of them and you quickly find yourself in an automated no-mans land.

“How can they get away with this?” I’ve heard business owners exclaim in frustration when for the umpteenth time I try to explain that I can’t retrieve their original account. “I’m a customer!” But that’s the thing- you’re not a customer in the eyes of social media networks. They don’t have to make you happy because you hold very little power when it comes to their unique bottomline. Successful platforms balance user acquisition with the onus of monetization expected by their investors. To put it into context: Facebook just hit 2 Billion users, Instagram is at 700 Million. You.Don’t.Matter.

This is a harsh reality particularly given just how much of our marketing is invested around these platforms. In the first few years of social media marketing brands operated in the wonderful world of FREE. The idea of brands as humans was absolutely the case. Brand posts and pages were treated just the same as any other post. Remember the “Like Our Facebook Page and Win a Free iPad” contests of 2010 and 2011? That all came crashing down in 2012 when Page managers found out that on average only 16% of their audience was seeing a post. In 2014, Oglivy posted “Facebook Zero” finding that for pages with over 500,000 likes, organic reach was only at 2%Organic reach took another hit in 2016, when Facebook said publicly that the algorithm would prioritize friends and family posts first for organic reach. 

Of course this has all been a boon to paid social practitioners who are reaping the reward of operating in a space of murky attribution reporting where brands are desperate to continue their pre-algorithm reach. But for small to medium businesses paid social remains a slippery slope. Let’s be honest, a business owner who is still coming to grips with the value of social media is not suddenly going to open the purse strings for a paid social campaign.

Facebook’s success with the algorithm combined with total content overload led Instagram, Twitter and now LinkedIn to adopt increasingly stringent algorithms aimed at getting brands to pony up to participate.

If you want to market on social there’s one mantra that needs to be your guiding principle: Social media platforms are not your friends particularly if you’re a brand. At every step you should expect to be foiled and penalized.

The losers in this will always be the small business owner for whom an ad-buy is too pricey and yet by being categorized as a “brand” they suffer algorithm penalties. Yes you should have a paid strategy, but a small business social strategy must be agile and look to milk every opportunity for getting an organic ROI.

 

 

 

What I learned when I created an Instagram profile for my cats

Yes I’m now one of THOSE people. I have an Instagram for my three cats where I post their latest exploits and, yes, pretend at times to speak in their voice. Many think I’m crazy- and I’m really fine with that because this account has helped me remember how fun social media can be. My cat account is my outlet. It’s where my feed is full of other cute cats doing silly things like riding roombas, sticking their heads in bags and looking aloof. It’s also a place of interacting with a passionate community.

For example:

All three of my kitties are rescues and two of them were rescued off of the “kill list” from an NYC shelter by an amazing foster mom in Brooklyn. Both are black cats which decreased their chance of adoption and one was misidentified as vicious- most likely because she had survived the streets for 3 months and the shelter had no time to work with her to calm down. August 17th was National Black Cat Appreciation Day and it was awesome to see my feed fill up with Black Cat love. We shared stories and photos as well as raised awareness of the low black cat adoption rates. It was awesome to see the community come together in support of each other and our cats.

And guess what? On my cat Instagram there’s no mention of politics. You’d have no idea that this is a vicious election year. I have no idea how many Drumpf or Hillary supporters I may be interacting with because it doesn’t matter. My cat Instagram account is a sanctuary- a place where I can go to remind myself that there are still shared interests around which I can interact with others.

This isn’t escapism. It’s part of being human. We all have many identifying markers and it’s never been more important to embrace those. In terms of career many in my field preach that it’s futile to try to have a personal life and preach the glories of “hustling”. You are your work, all other is secondary. Most “thought leader” social media accounts reflect this.

But here’s the thing-we choose to make our accounts work and career-focused. We choose to blur that line through personal branding. We choose to submerge certain aspects of our personal identity. As I’ve written about in prior posts (here and here) this can be absolutely fitting. But we need to keep in mind that by choosing to build communities with a very specific work-centric identity, we risk loosing other aspects of ourselves.

I’m not talking about the whole “I’m totally transparent” thing because are you, really? Humans are weird. All of us have hobbies or pasts that are secret. So as much as you say “I’m transparent” on your feed, you’re not. You have an internal censor that thinks carefully through what you post and curates a balanced feed. Your offline self knows all about treading carefully through appropriate conversation topics (Thanksgiving anyone?)so don’t try to pretend that your online self is suddenly free to discuss anything you want.

That’s why it’s been so freeing for me to create an entirely niche account on Instagram where I’m only focused on one aspect of my identity- my love of cats. Many people take a break from social media to get back to their identity, if, like me, that’s not for you then I’d strongly suggest making a completely niche social media account. I’d also suggest that you check out Instagram to do so because it reach lends itself to the niche community- for examples-check out Urban GardeningFoodies or Fitness.

Bottomline: Social Media can be freeing and let you explore different aspects of yourself. So do it! Make your social media experience fun again. 

And  of course if you want to see the antics of three kitties named after Harry Potter characters come on over to @3kittiesinthecity 

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Featured blog image via xkcd.