On earth, we are spending an enormous amount of time with social media. According to a recent report from onlineMBA.com, 66% of all online adults are connected to one or more social media platforms. Facebook has close to 900 million active users and other media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ are experiencing heavy growth. The access that these social media networks provide to friends, followers, contacts and more plus the potential for a message to go viral and quickly scale makes them a powerful class of digital asset.
But most of these networks (except LinkedIn) do not give you access to email addresses. Remember a few years ago when MySpace was the social media gold rush boomtown. Musicians flocked to its pages hoping to establish huge followings, often spending large amounts of time and money in the process. But now the digital pack has moved on, and MySpace is more like a ghost town than a wild west saloon. What happened to your thousands of friends? Perhaps some followed you to other destinations, but it’s hard to tell which ones did or didn’t because you had no control over their personal information.
If moving to the new “in place” feels a lot like starting over it’s because it is starting over. And that’s the point, social media gives you little or no control over your contacts. And worse, when you post a message not everyone will see it. According to Facebook executives, on average about 16% of an individual’s friends, or fans of a page will see a shared post on Facebook. Looked at it differently, it means that about 84% of your Facebook Friends will completely miss your message.
If social media for you is simply a means to share photos and life experiences with immediate family and friends, then as digital assets they are exemplary… and free. But if you are trying to build a brand, can you afford to spend hours growing a fan database to which you will never gain access? Worse, your hard-won list might even evaporate?
Is there an alternative strategy? Are there other channels worthy of your attention? Yes.
Included among your digital assets should be your personal blog/brand site and your email newsletter and list (if you have them). In fact, for many brands, the site, email and list may be the most valuable items in their digital lockbox with the potential to contribute the most to ROI.
Looked at from a macro perspective, a robust brand strategy benefits greatly from having lots of assets including social media pages. But don’t lose sight of what you really control vs. what you are only able to access. (Temporaray vs. permanent.)
Think of these variables as parts of a digital equation which must be individually solved for each brand. To get the optimum solution for each individual circumstance, requires questioning how to best spend your time. Online marketer and author Seth Godin recently wrote in his blog, “I don’t actively use Twitter (not because it’s not a useful tool for some people, it just doesn’t work for me) so I don’t need a staff to pretend to be me there. I don’t actively use Facebook either, though I have a page there.” Why would an online branding and social media expert elect to use those channels sparingly, but devote daily efforts to posting on his personal blog and sending communicating daily with his email list?
That question should be top of mind as you ponder your own digital assets…