I suspect there will be an update in the next Monday’s Marketing MInute, but the DOJ, along with multiple states, has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google. The Senate has said it wants the CEOs of both Facebook and Twitter to come before it and explain why their platforms are censoring content. And both presidential candidates, Trump and Biden, have signaled that they will change CDA 230.
Over a year ago, I started talking about how there would be great disruption coming to the social media space over the coming years. Even before this, I began advising clients to lower their dependence on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and focus more on communication channels they control, like their website/blog and email newsletters. Honestly, I don’t think Twitter and Facebook will be here 5 years from now. And I think as the social media landscape changes, I would hope that how we approach social media would change as well.
Years ago as influencer marketing was taking off, I advised companies interested in this space to invest in working with the T-Shaped Influencer. A T-Shaped Influencer is one that doesn’t have a large following or reach, but who has a depth of connection with their smaller audience. It’s the difference between an influencer who has 500,000 followers and no real connection with any of them, and am influencer who has 500 followers, who they know individually, and who all come from the same space.
Depth vs Reach.
One of the great failings of social media has been that it pushed us to pursue reach. Platforms weren’t built around communication (which is where depth occurs), they were built around extending reach. Build a network of followers, even buy them if you have to. Share your content Track the number of Likes, Favs, ReTweets. If you really want to ramp things up, engage with only ‘Verified’ users or users that have over 100,000 followers!
Doesn’t this all sound like bullshit? How does any of this reflect ‘social’ as in social media? The reality is, social media for years has been far more about the media than it has the social. When Twitter first launched, if you followed someone, you saw ALL their tweets. You may think you do now, but you don’t. If you are following Sarah and Tom, and Sarah replies to Tom, you will see that tweet. But if you are following Sarah and NOT following Tom, you won’t see if Sarah replies to Tom. When Twitter first launched, this wasn’t the case. This allowed you to follow people, then see who they were talking to, and meet new people through their conversations. It was a wonderful way to build your Twitter network organically and make new connections and friends. But Twitter decided this was creating the need for a lot of bandwidth they didn’t want to pay for, so they ended this feature. When Twitter users complained, Twitter clarified that it was never intended to be a communications platform, but rather a broadcast platform.
Think about that for a minute. And then think about the UX at Facebook, is it positioned more as a communication or broadcast platform in your opinion?
I think we will see fundamental changes in social media over the next few years. I think as these changes are happening, we need to be vigilant in pushing for changes that bring the ‘social’ back into social media. We need platforms that allow us to forge deeper connections with fewer people versus having little or no connection with everyone.
Depth vs Reach. If Social Media 1.0 was all about maximizing Reach, let’s make Social Media 2.0 all about maximizing Depth.