A year is a long time in politics – and social media. So much has happened to impact on social media management that it is often hard to keep up. Not least for PR practitioners attempting to ensure that their social media efforts are integrated in a coherent fashion into a wider communications mix.
So what are some of the key trends that PR professionals need to pay more attention to in relation to social media management?
These are 3 of things that should certainly be getting attention.
1: Paid-for social media – hard to avoid
The idea of paying for placement or visibility is typically anathema to PR practitioners. However, the sheer volume of content being published today means that pure organic reach on all the social platforms continues to drop. Buzzsumo’s comprehensive social media content survey published in March showed that social sharing has halved since 2015. Given that sharing or amplification is probably the main way of gaining any kind of meaningul organic reach on social media, then this trend is hard to ignore. Coupled with actions by Facebook to depriotise organisational content in news feeds (and a general trend towards algorithmic feeds), the days of trying to avoid paying for visibility on social media appear to be over.
However, just because money is involved doesn’t mean that paid-for social media approaches are off limits to PR professionals. The sums involved don’t necessarily have to be huge. And paid social can be a way of gaining more visibility for earned content.
2: LinkedIn = the sleeping giant of social media
While Facebook and Instagram tend to grab the social media headlines, LinkedIn has continued its stealthy rise in social media relevance and influence. Since the acquistion by Microsoft in June 2016, new features have been added over the last year or so to help get relevant content and messages in front of the right people (albeit for a price).
However, any PR practitioner who targets any kind of professional audience would do well to avail themselves of LinkedIn’s growing range of tools. For example, the LinkedIn Insight tag is free service that allows any organisation to better understand the visits it is receiving from LinkedIn users – wherever they arrive from. And direct sponsored content provides the ability to ensure that target audiences will at least see the messaging intended for them – and at costs that are often a fraction of other alternative channels.
Coupled with the recent introduction of the ability for organisations to post video content natively to LinkedIn, then this is definitely a platform that probably needs more attention than it is probably being given at the moment.
3: The impact of social platforms reigning in their data
We tend to assume that more and more data will become available to us to create data driven approaches to PR and communications. In reality, many of the key social platforms are starting to reduce the amount of information provided (either on the platforms themselves or through their APIs) which is having a knock on effect on what can be used for targetting as well as some of the more widely used 3rd party social media tools.
For example, Buzzsumo (an extremely useful social media content analysis tool) can no longer provide LinkedIn sharing data – because LinkedIn withdrew this feature from its API in February. By default, Linkedin sharing data is no longer available to any 3rd party that previously used this API.
Facebook has also announced it will stop using certain 3rd party data that was previously part of its audience targetting tool. Overnight changes to the Instgram API have caused problems for tools such at Hootsuite and Traackr.
And it is still uncertain how many popular 3rd party Twitter tools may suffer from possible changes due to the Twitter API.
These are just three of the many factors that PR practitioners need to bear in mind when looking at social media management in 2018.
If you want to be better informed as to how to navigate these and other changes to the main social media platforms then book your place on the CIPR’s next Social Media Management workshop which will be held in Edinburgh on May 30th.