If 2010s was the decade of social media, are the 2020s the decade of community?
Before 2010, not many of us were on social media and after 2020 not many of us are not. Social Media’s addictively engaging and has helped so many brands and individuals reach massive audiences. But when a business owner told us the other day he was “sorted” on community because his company has 30k+ TikTok followers, it prompted us to take a hard look at the key differences between social media and community engagement, and this is what we came up with.
Card or Party. Social Media in its nature is a broadcast medium. You set the tone, craft the messages and the content and your audience may engage / respond, depending on how adept you are in figuring out what they want or like. With a community, it’s almost the other way round. You don’t get to always set the direction the conversation will take. If Social Media is a bit like sending your friends a thoughtfully written Season’s Greetings card, a community is like throwing a party where great conversations and connections can happen.
Theirs, not yours. You don’t own your community: Facebook, Insta, Twitter or TikTok does. They know who your followers are, not you. And if someone complains about your group and Facebook decides to take it down – all that lovely engagement and brand loyalty? Gone in a twinkle of an eye.
Fast waters don’t run deep. Interactions on Social Media are in their nature fleeting and, let’s be honest, pretty shallow. There’s nothing wrong with that of course but like a friendship, if you can’t ever get past the small talk, how meaningful is your relationship in reality?
It’s noisy. As well as not owning your own data, you have no control over what people see and when. A busy day on the platform? Your message probably won’t be viewed. We’re increasingly hearing from influencers that they’re losing engagement because their posts are just not getting through to their followers. The busier these platforms get, and especially if the platforms change their priorities, the harder it’s going to be to keep your share of voice.
Nice house, anyone home? Ever tried to get an answer to a question by searching Instagram or Twitter? Difficult, huh? Then consider how you attracted your followers. - you perhaps paid for them (advertising) or they found you since they were your customers already. Imagine opening up a whole new channel of potential customers because you have community content which is fully searchable on Google? Now that’s a game-changer.
So, it’s definitely not a case of one of the other – Social Medial has a rightful place in driving engagement with your customers. Whatever you do, though, don’t confuse followers with community. And, if you want to generate meaningful and long-lasting relationships with your potential and existing customers, you should consider building an authentic community strategy to go alongside any social media activity you might be doing.