The world of social media is dynamic, and all the major social media platforms are constantly growing. Despite this, there has been a recent trend of people turning away from social media as they become more aware of the adverse impacts of using these types of platforms.
The shift away from using social media is predominantly among younger audiences as large numbers of people over the age of 50 are still adopting these platforms as a new technology. The issue is that a lot of companies rely on leveraging both social media marketing and advertising to generate interest so this new approach could force businesses to rethink how they reach their audiences.
With that said, Squarebird is here to help. As Bristol’s leading voice in digital marketing practices, we’d like to think we know a thing or two about managing your online presence. As such, we’ve included information about how this trend might affect your marketing and things you can do to handle the situation. To begin, we’ll answer the question…
What Actually Is Anti-Social Media?
Data from major social media platforms like Facebook shows that not only is there a decrease in younger users joining more mainstream platforms, but many users are also engaging on the platforms less while some are abandoning them altogether. This is known as the ‘anti-social media movement’.
The recent shift away from using social media platforms can be attributed to a variety of factors; one such element which initiated the trend in Anti-social media was when the public realised that major social media platforms like Facebook were using their data in more ways than anticipated.
Combined with data leaks throughout the years such as the Facebook data leak in 2019, and other factors like new social media platforms, the result was a growing distaste for social media among younger generations.
Too Much can be a Bad Thing
During the Covid pandemic and the various accompanying lockdowns, people spend a lot of time online. This meant that social media was used to the point of being overused. When combined with an increased popularity for mental health awareness, it is no surprise that people are after a well-needed digital detox.
The most notable and identifiable trend which has been the driving force for younger generations leaving mainstream social media is the popularity of more closed forums and groups of people with shared interests.
This is because younger people are less interested with traditional social media and more interested with engaging with their peers; this has increased the popularity of specialised platforms like Pinterest, Reddit, and other more niche versions of social media such as streaming platforms, image sharing sites, or online forums.
How does Anti-Social Media Affect Marketing and Advertising?
With the rise in anti-social media sentiments and decreasing growth of user bases on major platforms, businesses need to find new ways to stay engaged with their target audience and effectively communicate their brand to as many relevant people as possible.
Where Did Everyone Go?
One way to find out where everyone has gone is to see if they’re still using other platforms without abandoning social media completely. In an article from Harvard Business Review on the same topic, the author coined the term “digital campfire” as a way to identify the increasingly popular way that people are interacting online.
These digital campfires can be classified into:
- Private Messaging Campfires.
- Micro-Community Campfires.
- Shared Experience Campfires.
All of these different online social gatherings have different aims, contexts, and levels of familiarity between participants. From private messaging groups and forums to more public forums and social media groups – these types of social gatherings have one thing in common: the users have a shared interest and are brought together by a niche, esoteric topic or relationship.
An interesting case study of a major company leveraging these types of communities is Amazon’s acquisition of the streaming service Twitch which has a variety of “micro-community campfires”. Amazon acquired Twitch in 2014 as a way to expand Amazon advertising by using Twitch as a display network for their ads.
The ads shown on twitch are mainly related to things Twitch users would be interested in like computer and gaming products, but they also advertise more mainstream products and services in addition to promoting their streaming service, Amazon Prime Video.
Online Brand Community Management
Online Brand Community (OBC) management has been a well-researched topic in Digital Marketing since 2006 and is an established method of identifying relevant brand communities online and making attempts at managing them.
It’s important to determine the difference between an official social media page and an online brand community; social media pages are already controlled and managed by the company, whereas OBCs can be formed organically by consumers and other interested stakeholders.
Although these groups can still be found on social media, they are also commonly found as standalone websites and public forums on platforms not traditionally classed as social media.
An example of this would be a public or private group on social media or on a website where the participants are passionate about Ford Mustangs. The marketing team at Ford would then attempt to develop a relationship with the group through Brand Community Engagement (BCE). According to a study on OBCs, an important driving factor of this is ‘community relationship investment’.
This means brands have to add value to these groups before they can effectively manage them. OBC management can involve tactics like mediation and intervention with disputes and issues that may affect the brand’s image. On the other hand, dispute resolution can range in terms of engagement and can be handled by simply choosing not to engage with certain disputes.
With the decline in the effectiveness of social media advertising, OBC management could serve as a useful tool for brands looking to maximise their online presence and keep their target audience engaged.
Social Media Exodus
We discussed how some brands are trying to garner more control over online communities and consumers, but another approach (quite an extreme one) is to abandon social media completely. A large part of the anti-social media trend is not just moving to a new platform or reducing engagement; it involves users completely withdrawing from the online social media space.
Brands can learn from this and take it as an opportunity to relate to their target audience, especially if the anti-social media sentiment is strong among their consumers. Lush, the British cosmetics retailer, is an amazing example of this.
Lush’s approach to social media was unique from the beginning and a big part of their early success in the market. They were, however, openly opposed to social media over the years, including events like the Facebook data leaks and general social media advertising. They have also advocated for better mental health practices through reduced social media usage.
In November 2021, Lush published a press release detailing their stance on social media throughout the brand’s history and it also served as an announcement that they will be permanently deleting their social media accounts.
Although we wouldn’t recommend deleting all your social media accounts like Lush did, it’s a good example of how large brands can continue to grow despite the opportunity cost of not actively engaging with their target audience on social media.
Tailor Your Social Media Strategy to Your Target Audience with Squarebird
As experts in social media marketing and effectively communicating brand value through the most relevant digital channels, we can help you stay up to date with the latest trends in social media.
With experience in both organic social media strategies and paid advertising on social media platforms, we can help elevate your approach to social media and keep you engaging with customers online – wherever they choose to go.
Get in touch today to find out how we can help you develop a robust and effective social media strategy and an integrated approach to digital marketing.