Strength in diversity – Solving the Facebook Problem

Over-reliance on one social media platform can put brands in a pickle if that platform encounters difficulties, as in the ongoing Facebook boycott. 

The Hope Not Hate Campaign has seen major advertisers including Unilever, Coca-Cola and Starbucks pull budgets from Facebook due to its seeming-reluctance to deal with hate speech.  Meanwhile, an unprecedented high-profile Twitter hack saw all verified users prevented from tweeting as the platform scrambled to contain the security breach. These recent events have raised the question: if you were to cease all communications across one channel, how would you make up the shortfall in reach, engagement and brand awareness?

This is a question we’ve faced daily as we provide counsel to clients who have joined the boycott. Our advice falls into three broad areas:

Look to your channels 

No platform is perfect for reaching everyone. As new generations enter online maturity, different platforms grow with them. TikTok may be the cool, dancing kid on the block, but in 10 years – if it hasn’t been rolled up into yet another platform like its predecessor Musical.ly — it’ll likely get the same eye-rolls that Facebook gets from Generation Z now. 

In a perfect world, you’d maintain an engaging presence across a wide range of channels without breaking a sweat, but for many businesses that’s simply not possible. To prioritise, start with your customers: what is the best way to reach them? 

Understand your audience

Gut-feel is a good starting point, but to truly understand your audience, you need to build detailed customer profiles. Then, research how to reach them, including social media as part of an integrated approach. For example, if you sit in the luxury sphere and your customer is the older, affluent type, Facebook is indeed a good bet – but you might also want to consider PR outreach to luxury magazines, websites and influencers. 

Also, consider the type of content your audience responds to. Some content, such as memes and influencer-created content, filters across social and traditional media, rather than being tied to any one platform. Savvy brands, such as Red Bull and Lee Jeans, have reaped benefits from investing in content and upcoming influencers, over and above owned social media channels.  

Do you even need a platform? 

Now hear us out – we’re not suggesting you ditch social altogether. However, for some brands, intent-based marketing is always going to beat out social in driving conversions. Your future customers often have a set idea in their head when they open their browser and type into the search bar – so why not meet them there?   

The internet has provided a wealth of tools for reaching customers, but the sheer range of options can be overwhelming. Instead of beginning with ‘how’ you’ll reach your audience, which can lead to platform overload, reframe the question to focus on ‘who’, ‘why’ and ‘what’.