The Elusive Hit
When a band is interviewed about writing one of their big songs, sometimes they say, “We knew immediately that we had a hit.”
Of course, many bands “knew” that about songs that never went anywhere. It is not something you can know. It is not something you can control. All a band can do is continue to create and release quality songs.
The same is true of your content. Maybe your next post will be a hit. Maybe it won’t. It is not something you can control.
But you can create another quality post tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that…
Social Media Lessons From Russia
Yes, Russia spent a few bucks on Facebook ads. But that is not why their propaganda posts had an impact. After all, there are people who spend way more money on Facebook and who no one is talking about.
Russia’s content spread because it tapped into people’s emotions. It played off of people’s fears, prejudices, and hate.
But what if people did that with a positive spin? If you create content that people find intriguing, thought-provoking, and fun, it can also travel quite a bit on social media. It may not be the wildfire that Russia started. After all, bad news – even if it is not true – spreads fasters than good news. But it could still have an impact.
Another thing to learn from all of this: Russia succeeded because they just wanted to get these ideas out there. They were not trying to herd people to a landing page with a “special offer.” Their posts were not accompanied by the tag line like, “Get an extra 20% of ignorant hatred by using promo code…” They did not care about follower numbers or likes. They designed their content to have an impact.
I realize that businesses need to sell widgets or services. I realize that bands need to sell concert tickets. But what if the bulk of their content was more focused on who they are, what they are about, and the interesting ideas they have?
What The New Facebook Tool Misses
Facebook’s latest mea culpa in the Russian manipulation debacle is another example of missing the true potency of social media and focusing on the easy-to-track-but-minorly-important data.
According to an article in USA Today, Facebook’s new tool will “show you if you liked or followed fake Russian accounts spreading falsehoods during the 2016 presidential election on Facebook or Instagram.”
However, so many more people saw that content than liked or followed those pages or accounts. And the tool will not show if that content appeared in your newsfeed because it was liked, shared, or commented on by a friend.
Social media is an amazing way to get your ideas into the world. But since it seems like more and more people are reading without clicking, there is no good way to track how many people your posts resonate with. Likes and followers are a very small part of the picture.
This tool suggests Facebook is doing the minimum to placate the government and/or they have no idea how potent their platform really is.
Likes Mean Less And Less
A company emailed me about their automated Instagram tool. For a fee it would pose as me on Instagram and like other people’s posts... posts I never saw from people I do not know.
In theory those people would notice my fake likes of their posts and then click over to my account to look at my content. I am guessing that response would be rare. Unless they have bots that do that for them. Eventually it will just be a bunch of automated tools exchanging likes.
Yet another reminder not to use likes to determine the value or effectiveness of your content. Every day they are worth less and less.
No Overnight Success
I exchanged emails with a man who has a widely-read and influential daily blog. I asked how long it took before he was being read by people beyond his immediate circle of friends and family. His answer: Six years.
Meanwhile, I continually meet people who expect big results from their content after just a few weeks.
Facebook And Engagement Bait
In the “Better Late Than Never” category, Facebook announced that it will penalize people and pages that post engagement bait.
Examples of engagement bait include “Click Like if you are an Aries!”, “Share with 30 friends for a chance to win…”, “Comment YES if you love this as much as we do!”, “Tag a friend who needs this message!”, and on and on.
These tactics have been used by spammers and scammers for years. Sadly they have also been used by legitimate pages who were so desperate for attention that they traded in their dignity for a few extra likes.
Disabled Ad Account
Facebook disabled one of my ad accounts. They said it violated a policy. Maybe the problem was that I did not pay in Rubles. I don’t know. They won’t say what policy I violated. They also won’t tell me what ad was in violation. Kafka would have had a field day with this.
I suggested they made a mistake or attributed someone else’s ad to my account. They just replied with the same form letter they sent initially. And then they stopped responding altogether.
It is not a tragedy, just an annoyance. Still, it is a reminder not to be dependent on any one social media platform. Those environments can change or even disappear (remember Vine?) at any time.
Focus on creating good content that can work on multiple platforms, including your own website.
Mind The Details
On Fridays when I look to boost a post for myself or a client on Facebook, the default dollar amount is always more than I usually select and more than the default it gives me every other day of the week.
I can only guess that they are hoping I won’t notice the change and will accidentally spend more money than usual.
Mind the details. Failure to do so can be costly.
The Pros And Cons Of Geo-Targeting Posts
It can be good to geo-target posts about a band’s upcoming concert. For instance, if they are playing in San Antonio, Texas, on Facebook you can have a post about the concert shown only to people who live in a 25-mile radius of the city.
However, for several of my clients I find that when I push out a post about a concert to all followers, people in one city will tag friends in a second city to make sure they know that artist is coming to their town.
Also, if the city is a popular vacation destination, such as New Orleans, you never know who already has plans to travel there the weekend of the show. And some die hard fans might use the concert as an excuse to take a trip.
Social Media Should Not Be An Afterthought
Many businesses and bands treat social media as an afterthought. And it shows. Their content is an expression of apathy.
For a band it is the equivalent of saying, “We will figure out the guitar part for the song when we get on stage.”
Or it is like a business saying, “No need to plan for that meeting with the venture capitalists. We’ll think of something when we get in the room.”
Yes inspiration strikes occasionally, but that is not a reliable game plan.
And when it comes to social media content, odds are inspiration is not going to show up five days a week or more.