Some of us at Sprocket like to say that true strength is exhibited when someone deletes their Instagram account. We’re not totally serious, but there is some truth to the idea that removing yourself from social media leads to FOMO, feeling out of the loop, and being left out of important life updates from your friends.
But in the last two years, there has been a shift.
Social media channels have been in the public crosshairs for much of the year. Facebook, specifically, has drawn ire from Congress, as it has struggled to defend its role in Russia’s attack on the 2016 elections. Facebook, too, was involved in a data breach related to Trump-connected Cambridge Analytica, causing many users to delete or abandon their accounts.
Snapchat, too, has struggled; it recently reported that daily active users have decreased. Facebook’s have plateaued. Twitter has struggled to attract new users for years. Tech stocks have experienced huge drops in value in recent months.
Facebook’s presence at the center of several data breaches and scandals has caused a real deterioration of trust among users. That lack of trust—the understanding that private information is being mined from our social accounts, and that what we’re getting from social media isn’t worth the cost—is at the core of the #deleteFacebook movement.
But there’s also the general demographics of the thing: some social channels (AKA Facebook) are getting older in terms of demographics, while others (Snapchat, Instagram) remain younger. As social channels age—Facebook is close to 15 years old—their appeal wanes for some users.
All this is to say: is social media dying? Are users tiring of the social landscape as we know it?
We don’t think so. But, in order to rebuild trust and have authentic conversations on social media, brands need to embrace their authenticity and their human element.
That means, in part, doing the real work to identify what kind of content resonates with their audience, and figuring out what information their audience finds useful—then supplying that information in a way that doesn’t feel sales-y or too brand-focused. Remember that social media is a conversation, and brands need to be good conversationalists.
It also means engaging with real humans (like influencers) to share your story. Give your audience something LOL-worthy, something that evokes real emotion, and they’ll stick with you. Truly engaging social is about more than just spitting out a discount code.
We don’t have all the answers, and we don’t have a crystal ball—but we know that connecting with our audiences in human ways is one step toward ensuring they’ll feel bought in and connected through their social media channels.