With increasing limitations being placed on paid social media, it’s becoming more important than ever for brands to understand their organic social media community.
While the UK Government has delayed the restrictions on HFSS foods to give brands time to prepare for the changes, it’s likely there’ll be more restrictions on what marketers can – and can’t – do with paid advertising.
There’s also less interest from consumers for paid ads. Apple lets iPhone users switch off personalized ads; and its App Tracking Transparency forces apps like Facebook to be transparent about tracking and get user authorization to track and use data for personalized ads.
Google has also started changing the way it tracks Android phone users, creating an alternative to the current system that gives users unique IDs which help advertisers see how people use their phones and serve them ads based on this behavior.
In short, it’s harder to target people with paid ads. So, brands are turning to organic social media to engage with fans.
What does this mean for brands?
While it might be a big change, it’s also a great opportunity to get back to basics. Social media is, at its heart, about community.
Get to know your community and harness their insight
It’s super important to understand who your target audience is and why they like your product or service.
Brands tell us of their surprise at just how much they’ve been learning from their communities when they use organic social.
You’ll find that your fans are keen to raise their hands and say what they enjoy about your products, as well as what they’d like to see improved. They’ll share how they use the product and encourage others to use it too.
So it’s crucial to listen to your consumers. Understand who they are as a person and speak their language to bring in more people. Use the information you get from your community to create organic social content that will resonate with people who want what they are experiencing.
Be adaptable to keep pace with changing platforms, preferences and trends
Your social media strategy has to be flexible, as platforms are always changing – whether it’s tweaking algorithms or introducing new features. On a larger scale, different platforms change the way they perform based on so many different criteria, and what might work well on one platform won’t fly on another.
Take a look at Reels. They’re working really well for brands when it comes to reach. The platform’s also prioritizing video content right now, so if you do Reels right, you’ll find favor with the algorithm.
But, it’s important to note that there’s a pretty big backlash going on too. Some Instagram users dislike the shift to favoring video content over still images – they want Instagram to return to its roots. So, on Instagram, it’s a good idea to keep using a variety of formats.
You need to be free to try different strategies on different platforms. Play around and see what works for the platform and your brand.
Constantly evaluate your content and organic social media strategy
Constantly evaluate how well different types and formats of content are performing for your brand. We talk about our hive mind at The Social Element – we share learnings across the agency because things change so quickly, so we’re always trying new formats and content types, and testing and comparing results.
We need to know why one content type worked, and another didn’t – and we need to know how to replicate success across our clients. It’s this continual evaluation of content performance that helps us keep things fresh and it’s really useful for our clients, who know our strategies are tried and tested, and always being reevaluated.
Reflect the tone of your community
It shouldn’t feel like the brand ‘owns’ the community – in the sense that it takes it for granted and just feeds the community information as and when it has something to say. If anything, communities are community-owned, and brands participate in them.
One of the most important things is to match the tone of the community and reflect the best aspects of how it behaves.
Entertainment and gaming franchises do this really well. They might go several years without a major update for fans, but they still keep people engaged and inspired by sharing fan content and engaging with the community (using popular memes, for example).
By taking time to participate in the community, brands are able to form real connections with both the community and with individuals who are part of it. It helps build a relationship that nurtures long-term loyalty.
So, in summary, if you’re not sure how to deal with the decrease in paid social media results, our advice is to go back to your roots. In the early days of social, organic content was the primary way to engage fans. To succeed at social media now, you need to look at the tools and advantages your brand has at its disposal – advantages like a passionate, engaged community to work with and learn from.