Stop the scroll: Social’s next challenge

We’re going back to our roots on social. Engagement and interactions will matter again! That’s great news for our communications industry, and probably not so good for others. Consider your own Facebook or Instagram habits. For a while now it has probably been a lot of scroll, scroll, pause. Watch a video for x amount of seconds. Scroll, pause, maybe click on something accidentally. Figure out how to get back to where you were before your errant thumb.

The problem with that model is that it is not sustainable in the long-term. Arguably, something that amounts to a scrolling browse can be replicated and replaced. Conversation—not just passive content consumption—is what will keep eyeballs on the platform in the future. Call it Stopping the Scroll. The major players have recognized this and the algorithms have been adjusted.

Why? There are a lot of reasons. But we’ve been part of some collective bad decision-making on where resources are being allocated.

The interagency table is a fun place to be—ideas, plans, outcomes, budgets, all with the clients’ interests in mind. The results can be fantastic, especially when everyone is onboard. What is discouraging though is the reliance sometimes on the tried and true. We’ve heard the arguments/declarations that “engagement is dead,” or “engagement doesn’t really matter anymore.” “Let’s go for more reach and frequency!”

Consider a simple question. How can engagement ever not matter?

Whatever your perceptions of the sales funnel happen to be, we hope that you will be generous and allow as fact that advocacy and loyalty have value. Perhaps not the immediacy of consideration on to purchase, but who doesn’t want passionate brand advocacy or long-term loyalty? The fastest route to advocacy isn’t an impression but with content and conversation that makes an impression. Enough of an impression that you might share, comment, or like that content.

Facebook has made the move to shift algorithms to value posts that your audiences engage with their friends and family on. We must shift our strategies right along with the algorithms. So, what do we need to do now?

First: rethink content and community management—monitoring just won’t do. Conversation matters especially as brands interact with fans. We must change our mindset: from content that isn’t always on, to content that is always relevant enough to spark interaction within our audiences. Content won’t always be in our current comfort zones of short videos, blogs, photos or animated gifs. We’re going to have to stretch a little and consider content like live video as a key to community engagement.

Second: the role of influencers is essential. Influencers (excluding celebs) have become influencers because of their ability to engage. We can learn a lot from them. Partnering with the right influencer can be the perfect way to kick start conversation and engagement. Channel takeovers can bring new audiences to brands and help lift the existing community.

Let’s not pretend for a second that Twitter or Facebook or any other platform doesn’t want ad revenue and more of it. Ads still matter. We’re not going to escape impressions. However, there’s a shift now back to the roots of the major platforms to interaction. Their future depends on it and frankly so should ours. It’s time for us to make the right impression.