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The recent media focus on Facebook, data, and privacy, as well as sudden changes to how Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter interact with other apps certainly might make it feel like the world of social media is on the verge of collapse. The reality is, things are going to be ok. The oceans are not boiling. The bell is not tolling. Social media is not dead.

In fact, we at SocialToaster firmly believe that the evolution happening in today’s digital landscape will actually improve the overall consumer experience, ensuring that social media will continue to grow and stay a vital part of our connected world.

2018 is not the year social media dies. It’s the year social media gets reborn.

2018: CHANGES TO THE SOCIAL MEDIA LANDSCAPE

It might only be the end of April, but what a difference a few months can make. Since January, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have all made dramatic changes to their platform and their visibility algorithms. It’s these updates that have caused some false prophets to start heralding the end times of social media. Here are the three biggest shake-ups we’ve seen to the social media landscape this year:

Twitter No Longer Supports Auto-Posting – In one of their more recent changes, Twitter quietly banned all bulk tweeting applications, forbidding users (and brands) from automatically tweeting mass tweets. This move arose as a result of Twitter’s internal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections and the impact of #FakeNews.

Instagram Changes Its Algorithm Regarding New Content – Most brands understand that, as on Facebook, not all content they publish on Instagram will be shown to their Instagram followers. Instagram has taken this restriction a step further by disabling the feature that causes Instagram feeds to automatically refresh. They further accelerated previously announced changes relating to their API limits and public content reading APIs, causing thousands of unofficial apps to break overnight.

Facebook Announces New Algorithm Changes – Some would say that this was the catalyst of the so-called “end of the world” discussions. At the end of last year, Facebook announced they would be updating their algorithm to give preference to personal posts over brand posts, thus further reducing the organic reach of branded posts. When combined with the media coverage surrounding the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, as well as the resulting #DeleteFacebook movement, it might seem like, at the very least, Facebook is in trouble.

Once you dig in a little deeper though, you realize that the changes happening on these platforms are, in fact, what will save social media. Here’s why:

2 REASONS SOCIAL MEDIA ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE

Reason 1: Social Media Is A Business, Man
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat are all publicly traded companies. They have stakeholders, shareholders, board members, C-Suites and thousands of employees. They aren’t going anywhere without a fight. Twitter isn’t going to shut down its servers on a random Tuesday. Facebook isn’t going to pack up its bags and lock the doors for good on a whim. They are here for the long-haul, and as such, they will do whatever they can to keep their users happy.

Why?

Because as publicly traded companies, they are duty bound to do their best to make money. And sure, companies do indeed go bankrupt (RIP Blockbuster), but we’re not even close to that happening with our tried-and-true social media platforms. For social media to truly “die”, a new technology would need to come forward to disrupt the space; however, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are all investing energy and resources to own or even create that next disruptive technology (looking at you AR).

Facebook’s, Twitter’s, and Instagram’s recent policy changes are reactive to the current consumer climate and public scrutiny. Users of the platform want to know that their social networks will evolve to meet their ever-changing needs. This security is paramount to ensure that users stay engaged with their social media hub of choice.

Reason 2: Social Media Users Aren’t Going Away
Aside from a couple of public account deletions, consumers are still using social media at near the same level as they were this time last year. If social media was a part of your life last year, chances are, it’s still a part of your life this year, regardless of Twitter’s auto-post update or Instagram’s algorithm change.

Think about the sheer amount of time people have invested in their social media profiles: thousands of pictures, events, memories, all housed within the confines of social media’s hallowed halls. It would take a momentous effort to see noticeable droves of people abandon this collective history. Where would they go? What else exists in the market that offers the same services of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter?

For those concerned that Gen Z doesn’t think Facebook is “cool” and that they aren’t going to faithfully adopt the social media juggernaut, you may be right. However, that level of drop off is still years down the road and we have Q2 sales goals that need to be met tomorrow.

Solving the problem of generational platform abandonment is not up to marketers though. We can’t make Facebook “cool” for 15-year olds. This is a problem Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter need to solve. A problem, in fact, that they are actively working on solving because (see point number 1 above) being a publicly traded company they have an obligation to continuously strive for high profitability.

ALRIGHT, IT’S NOT THE DEATH OF SOCIAL MEDIA, BUT IT DOES FEEL LIKE SOMETHING IS ENDING…

Correct, social media isn’t dying. What’s dying is “lazy” social media. If you’re one of the thousands of brands that coasted through social media doing the bare minimum, the vacation is over. If you want to be successful on social media, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and produce the content needed to overcome these new hurdles.

Great content that resonates with a targeted audience is always rewarded. Here are some of our recommended best practices for thriving with social media in 2018:

  • Only publish high-quality posts (even if that means you end up posting less)
  • Use compelling imagery and video to support your posts
  • Publish and create content that engages audiences on an emotional level
  • Have conversations with your audience, don’t just monologue to them
  • Organize your fans through an advocacy marketing program (like SocialToaster) to empower them to help amplify your great content across multiple social channels (not just your own brand channels)

The only thing constant is change. Social media is no different. You can’t expect the same tactics that worked in 2014 to work in 2018. The landscape isn’t dying, it’s evolving. And your social media strategy needs to evolve with it.

Good technology and processes will adapt to change. At SocialToaster, we not only have technology that seamlessly adapted to the 2018 changes, but we also have social media experts that can help your business use change as a strategic advantage. Contact us, we will tell you how.