Meta — and with it, legacy social media platforms Facebook and Instagram — is flailing.
Profits are down. The products are trying frantically to pivot, Instagram to some unholy mashup of TikTok and Snapchat, Facebook to some metaverse alternate reality future only Mark Zuckerberg can see.
Wait, now they’re not pivoting. Now they’re pausing changes in the face of criticism. They’re listening. They’re reconsidering.
What’s a PR professional to do? We’ve all become reliant on these tools to directly reach our audiences. But every day it feels like these platforms are telling us they’re going to change — and we must change with them.
Here’s what to keep in mind during this time of social media uncertainty.
Social media was never the goal
All that matters about these social media platforms is whether or not they’re working for you and your audiences. Keep a close eye on your analytics — not just those provided by Instagram and Facebook, but the higher-level and more valuable analytics you hold the keys to, like referral traffic, sales or other business-related metrics that go beyond the vanities of likes and shares.
These are the reasons you’re on social media.
Remember: The goal of social media is never to be good at social media. It’s to be good at social media so that it serves your business goals. What Facebook and Instagram value in terms of engagement may not be the things you value.
As long as your own analytics and goals are in order, don’t worry about what the social networks want. Keep your eyes on your own paper, so to speak, and your focus on your audience. Everything else is noise.
Instagram wants more videos. Facebook wants a metaverse evolution. And they’ll use your algorithm to encourage you to want the same things. At any given time, they can throttle your reach, denying you access to fans and followers you’ve spent more than a decade amassing.
The chaos at social networks is a reminder that any platform with that kind of power should never be your only — or even your primary — way of communicating with your audiences.
This is a critical time to put a renewed emphasis on your email newsletter platform. To invest in brand journalism that people want to read. To seek out media outlets that matter to your audience and build strong bonds with journalists who can tell your story. To start your own podcast or video series.
The whole point of PR is to share your organization’s story in an organic way. That usually means relying on others to spread the word, one way or another. But never put all your eggs in one basket. Especially not a basket that’s already hemorrhaging eggs.
The noise will continue
You’re only going to hear about more social media madness in the coming weeks. Social media is now close to two decades old and is going through the cyclical growing pains that come with any industry. TikTok is going to keep having issues with privacy. Twitter has its whole Elon Musk thing going on.
Keep focused on your audience and your goals. Give yourself options besides these platforms. And don’t respond frantically to every tweak and announcement.
Their chaos is not yours.