First thing first, what do I mean when I say bubble? Well, with a background in economics, when I say bubble, I am referring to the same concept as any other bubble you may have heard of, particularly regarding asset prices. A bubble is simply when something carries a perceived, nominal value, which exceeds its “real valuation,” based on fundamental valuation formulas and techniques. Now, of course, I am not speaking about the monetary valuation of social media companies. On the other hand, I am talking about the perceived benefit social media has on businesses.
Before I go any further, let me just make it clear that I don’t have the slightest doubt that social media is essential for businesses in order to build an online presence. But what if the value we put on our social media account is actually much higher than what our social media accounts are actually worth?
Who Interacts on Social Media
I wanted to push out an experiment where I simply posted a question in a lot of different business related hashtags on the platforms Instagram and Twitter. The question was very simple – “What makes you follow someone on Twitter/Instagram?”
I urged people to reply or comment with their response, hoping to have a solid idea of what really makes a business follow another business account’s social media profile. The reason this was interesting to me is that most of what I do is in the B2B sector, so any marketing efforts usually go to getting other businesses interested and not the end-consumer. I believe social media towards end-consumers and businesses are two different planets.
What I found was something I had suspected for a long time; lots of likes, retweets and even comments and follows, yet not a single response to my question. Of course, I am no major influencer, but I’d still expect a few helpful souls who’d like to share their point of view. Even with my added incentive of promising to follow back whoever helped me in my study, I saw no activity. In fact, with all the likes I got, it felt like when you post a status to your friends on Facebook, asking for advice/help, and people start liking. I never quite understood that!
I tried another question on Twitter, just to see. Low and behold, in only 2 hours I had likes and retweets, but no replies.
So What’s Going On?
I’m sure you’ve figured out parts of it already, but just in case, this is what happens when in 2017 everyone wants automation. Those who kill it on Social Medias, whether Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, you name it – are those who manually interact and show their businesses to people. Having automated posts, schedules or procedures can be great for saving time and costs, but you will never be crowned ruler of the social medias with any of these tools.
What I Mean by Automation
There are a few different kinds of automation. I’ll just look at a few to give you an idea.
This is a service where you have a script of some sort which is built to automatically follow and unfollow accounts in selected hashtags, with hopes they will follow you back. An example of this is “Influx Social” where you can whitelist users you never want to unfollow and then just let the software do its thing.
Like and Comment
Other aspects of Influx Social and similar sofwares is that they will like and comment posts in certain hashtags on your behalf. I am near certain this is the source of several of my likes. This could be useful to try and interact with an audience, the problem arises in not being in control of what posts are liked/commented on. An example is if you’ve pre-set a comment “Love it!” and the comment is posted on someone post on breaking news of a terrorist attack. Yea… You may want to reconsider that one!
First off, I’ll be coining this term. This is not a software automation, but I’ll be calling it an automation nevertheless. This is a category of social media enthusiasts who do not stop to look, think about or read any posts, they have just learned where to click to like/follow and scroll through as many posts as they can, liking them and hoping you follow back. If this is your current strategy, save some time and go for the software!
All in All
Social media can be an incredible tool for businesses, but I do believe we may give it a bit more praise than it deserves in the business to business sphere. Mostly because all businesses think in similar ways – how to increase efficiency, which most often means “How can this be automated.” If you have 1000 B2B companies trying to sell to each other, with 100% of them having automated their social media, just waiting for the leads to roll in, then you have 1000 companies who engage, get followers and pump out posts, all being administered by some lonely server in a data center far from us.
If there ever was a takeaway from this, it would be to actually take the time to build a real presence. I get annoyed when I follow someone and they send me a “Thanks for the follow! Check out my company at annoyingcompany.com!” Simply because it no longer makes you stand out. We can boil this down to the ancient principle of quality over quantity. If you have limited amount of time to spend on social media, make it worthwhile. Interact with the user and their content, meaning the content they actually post, not a generic “Cool” just to try and get them to come back to you. We are in a social media bubble because so many companies are online, but instead of creating a valuable space of excellent content and meaningful interaction, their only goal nowadays is adding to their following. Because the more followers the better. But is it really so?
Please tell me what you think in the comments!