There's a change coming. It's human nature to be abrasive towards change, but it's necessary for survival to accept it. So when do our instincts to survive trump our human nature to resist change? Hopefully, the answer is NOW for social media professionals.
It's hard for us. Most of us were introduced to social media marketing through Facebook. Suddenly, we had a page that could connect us to our fans that we already knew how to use beautifully in a personal setting. Frankly, I rebelled against having a Facebook until a college boyfriend set one up for me so the other half of his relationship status would no longer be a mystery. After realizing what a detriment Facebook was to relationships, I quickly deactivated mine. Then, something odd happened- I stopped finding ANYTHING out about house parties, live music and school events. I realized the only way I was finding out about the events in college was through event invites on Facebook. Within a week, I reactivated it. This was also the moment it clicked for me that Facebook was a valuable tool for promoting. As a public relations major, I immediately began playing around with how to promote different ideas, events, etc. on Facebook. This was my first taste of 'social media marketing'.
Fast forward a few years, and now I am faced to completely change my philosophy on social media marketing, because the very network that sparked my passion for social media, is the very network that is making it impossible for me to focus on what is important --> organic fan engagement.
So, it's safe to say, half of the fear of moving on from Facebook is that it is at the core of what we know about social media. Our first social media strategies most likely heavily involved it, and our first wins probably took place in the form of a viral post. It's hard to say goodbye to something that lives so vibrantly in our career highlights. (It's important to note here that I am not suggesting to do a mass deactivation of Facebook brand pages (although that might get the point across to Facebook), but I am saying that it does not deserve the full-time commitment it might have once received in your social strategy plans.)
The other half of the fear? --> Having to answer the question of, "Where do we go now?" The truth is, there's not much to fear here. Facebook strategies didn't exist when Facebook started. We took successful public relations and marketing strategies and adapted them to a digital atmosphere. That's all we need to keep doing now. We just need to adapt them to new networks.
What new networks? Wherever your fans are. Fans are tired of the constant advertising space Facebook has become, and are also spending less time on the network*. Whether you hire a market research firm to find this out for you, or you are a small business and you put yourself in your consumers' shoes for a day and find out where they are talking the most --> do it. Find out where they live, where they have conversations that are relevant to your brand, and go there. Networks will vary depending on your brand, but, what will not vary, is Facebook becoming less relevant in the social media marketing world.
We're intelligent, smart communicators. We are not going to lose at social media marketing because one network decides to make as much of a profit off of brands as possible. We're smarter than that. Facebook might have the network, but we have the strategy. So start writing a strategy that includes other networks where your fans live, and understand that 'Facebook' and 'social media marketing' are no longer synonymous. Social media marketing is so much more than one network, and it's so much more than changing posts and content on a daily basis just to keep up with the changing algorithm game. Social media is about engaging with your fans, and having real-time conversations with the people that count. Go find them, and stop wasting your time playing the Facebook game. Embrace change, and start having authentic conversations again with your fans.
- Marji J. Sherman