Social media is playing an increasingly important role in social media marketing, and by extension, integrated branding. Platforms like Facebook allow businesses to reach out to potential new customers –and allow customers to reach back – in ways that even social media experts didn’t expect. In fewer than 10 years, Facebook has collected more than 1 billion users, so it’s natural for businesses to turn to Facebook as a marketing outlet. Facebook is not the only social media platform that’s making changes in the way businesses do business. Twitter, a social media platform founded in 2006 has about 560 million users and is also a staple of social media marketing plans.
Social media marketing – it’s not always about you
Even though there is significant overlap between the users of both social media platforms, it appears as though these users like their Facebook on Facebook and their Twitter on Twitter. Earlier this summer, Facebook adopted hashtags, a prominent Twitter feature, as a way to improve users’ ability to find related content on Facebook quickly. As it turns out, not only have Facebook users NOT taken well to the use of hashtags, but the presence of a hashtag in a Facebook post will actually decrease traffic to the post!
Twitter may also be in the middle of a self-inflicted injury, also acquired in the name of making related posts easier to follow. Last week, Twitter introduced “the blue line,” a vertical line that connects related conversations among Twitter users. So far, the user response has been less than enthusiastic, but the company hasn’t shown any signs of backing away from the thin blue line. Twitter says it has added the blue line to make it easier for readers to follow a complete Twitter thread.
What does this mean for the business whose integrated branding strategy includes social media marketing? Initially, business users should follow social media marketing trends carefully and practice good social media marketing habits, as defined by their users. If users express a strong preference against the use of hashtags in Facebook posts, and their use has a measurable negative effect on traffic, minimally it makes sense for businesses to avoid using hashtags in Facebook until further notice! Users can still find related content on Facebook without hashtags, so hashtag usage in Facebook isn’t strictly necessary from either a content or SEO perspective.
On the other hand, the hashtag is quite at home on Twitter, and doesn’t produce the same negative effect that it does on Facebook. Using social media hashtags, therefore, is only acceptable where the user thinks they belong, regardless of how helpful or useful they might be.
The blue line on Twitter is a little different. The user doesn’t have any control over whether the platform inserts a blue line to connect conversations, so even if readers don’t find the blue line attractive or helpful, the Twitter user is stuck with the blue line until either the user base gets used to it, or Twitter decides to drop it. Will the blue line turn out to be enough of a turn-off to cause Twitter to rethink this move?
Users sometimes have enough clout to bring about change, but even popular demand is no guarantee that a platform is listening. Take the mythical Facebook “dislike” button. Facebook users by the zillions have asked for a “dislike” option as the natural corollary to the platform’s iconic “Like” button almost since the latter was introduced in 2009. Facebook still hasn’t given in to this request, despite numerous advancements and improvements over the years, and isn’t likely to, unless Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg does an about-face on his dislike of users disliking things in the context of Facebook.
Ultimately, when users express a preference for something that you have control over on a social media platform, from a social media marketing perspective, it only makes sense to give the users what they want in the way they want it. The same caveat rings true for content and other elements of integrated branding. To make social media marketing truly effective for business communication, your efforts have to return some value to the users each time you reach out to them, or they reach back to you.
If you would like more information about how you can add effective social media marketing to your integrated branding strategy, please contact our Creative Director, Dave Ramsell or call Dave at (330) 243-0651 for a social media marketing consultation.