By Ann Gynn published August 6, 2019

What If You and Your Brand Could Break Up with Social Media?

Is your relationship with social media dysfunctional? You find the platforms attractive because they draw billions of people. And though you know billions won’t be attracted to your brand, you still ponder what your (and your brand’s) life would be like without these good-looking social media platforms.

You’re not alone. Marketers’ flawed social media relationships revealed themselves when we asked Content Marketing World speakers which social media platform they wished they could (or are planning to) leave behind.

A confession by Kiley Peters, owner and CEO, Brainchild Studios, reflects the thinking of many who responded: “I have a love-hate relationship with most social media platforms.”

Read on for more answers and thoughts divulged by CMWorld speakers. You’ll learn:

  • Which platform got the most “we-wish-we-could” break up comments
  • Which platforms aren’t contributing to the relationship anymore (if they ever did)
  • Which platforms brands are staying with
  • What it takes to create and sustain a satisfying relationship

Breaking up big time

The biggest platform – Facebook – had 2.41 billion active users in June 2019 (an 8% year-over-year increase).

And yet (or perhaps that’s why), Facebook topped the informal breakup list.

“Yawn,” wrote Michael Weiss, vice president, Creative360. Christoph Trappe, chief content officer, AC Business Media, simply said, “Ugh.” Neither are good words to describe a fulfilling relationship.

Some responders shared their desire to dismiss the platform, including Jesper Laursen, CEO, Native Advertising Institute; Courtney Cox Wakefield, group manager, digital marketing, Children’s Health; Jeff Leo Herrmann, president, Madison, Michigan & Market; Tamsen Webster, founder and chief message strategist, Find the Red Thread; and Andy Crestodina, co-founder, chief marketing officer, Orbit Media.

Others said their Facebook relationship isn’t great, but they keep it going because they get some good from it. Melissa Harrison, CEO, Allee Creative, confessed: “Personally? (I would get rid of) Facebook. I value phone calls, in-person/face-to-face messages with my network over Facebook messages and posts any day. That said, Facebook is also a platform where I get most of my news. It’s a Catch-22 for me.”

Michaela Alexis, LinkedIn speaker, trainer, and co-author of Think Video, explains why Facebook was her breakup choice. “Facebook has become this weird assortment of audience members after attempting to be everything to everybody,” she explains.

John Hall, co-founder, Calendar.com, has reduced his time with Facebook, but he admits, “I don’t think it will ever be completely left behind.”

Like John, Dan Hatch, founder, Typeset, has cut his time on the platform. “Personally, I barely use Facebook at all now. Professionally, obviously, I still have to keep it. But Facebook doesn’t really want us there. They’re not doing us any favors. They’re a business, I get it. But if I’m not seeing results there, if my audience isn’t there and isn’t engaging there, why would I use it?” Dan asks.

Jay Acunzo, founder, Marketing Showrunners, deleted his Facebook account. “My life is better for it. I’m not willing to trade quality of life for marketing results,” he says. “I see better results today through other channels now that I’ve reinvested time there.”

.@JayAcunzo deleted his @Facebook account and saw better results reinvesting his time in other channels. Click To Tweet

Professional service businesses aren’t on Facebook, so Ahava Leibtag, president, Aha Media Group, is fine with a Facebook breakup.

Dennis Shiao, consultant, Dennis Shiao Consulting, sees reasons to disconnect from Facebook for content distribution and reasons to keep up the brand page for appearances. But he also sees another good quality: groups. “Create a Facebook Group for your customers,” he advocates.

Groups are the reason freelance content writer Kristen Hicks can’t break up with Facebook. “I’ve definitely thought about leaving Facebook, but I find the groups too valuable, so I guess I’m stuck,” she says.

And Joe Pulizzi, founder, Content Marketing Institute, knows Facebook isn’t a good partner. “I’m starting to believe that Facebook is detrimental to society,” he says. “I’m not sure what to do about it, but I’m concerned.”

Seeing less frequently

“I’m doing what a lot of social users are doing – spending less and less time on Facebook and, to a certain degree, Twitter. I’ll probably abandon Snapchat all together, says Carla Johnson, speaker and author.

But she isn’t ready to quit all social media, just the noisy and less helpful. “I spend more time on Instagram because I feel it’s easier to shut out the noise, and I like the visual nature of the content. I spend the most time on LinkedIn,” Carla says.

George Stenitzer, founder and chief content officer, Crystal Clear Communications, is using both Pinterest and Facebook less and less.

Kicking these platforms to the curb

Those sticking it to Instagram include Christine Michel Carter, creator of Mompreneur and Me; A. Lee Judge, co-founder, chief marketing officer, Content Monsta; and Yadin Porter de Leon, global executive content strategist.

Sarah Mitchell, founder, Typeset, also picks Instagram: “I know this won’t be a popular opinion, but I view Instagram as a platform rife with fake influencers and questionable benefit for B2B marketing, which is the majority of my work.

#Instagram is a platform rife with fake influencers & questionable benefit for B2B. @SarahMitchellOz #CMWorld Click To Tweet

“It’s only a matter of time before Facebook, Instagram’s owner, locks down the algorithm and makes it another pay-to-play channel … I’m betting it won’t be such a lucrative platform for marketers for very much longer.”

Leslie Carruthers, CEO, The Search Guru, says though organic Instagram isn’t pretty, she isn’t abandoning the social platform. “Paid advertising on Instagram brings in B2B conversions because of the targeting and retargeting capabilities,” she says.

Mike Murray, president, Online Marketing Coach, shares a reflection about Instagram and social media generally. “It’s not for everyone. I’m a firm believer in the reality of opportunity cost. Marketers should reflect on how they spend their time and whether something else would help them be more efficient or successful or both in the long run,” Mike says.

Acting like he never even had Snapchat’s number, Matt Heinz, president, Heinz Marketing Inc., says, “Snap what?!” Other votes for a Snapchat dismissal include Pam Didner, B2B marketing consultant and author, Effective Sales Enablement; Griffin Thall, CEO and co-founder, Pura Vida Bracelets; and Carlos Hidalgo, CEO, VisumCx.

Kathy Klotz-Guest, founder, Keeping it Human, sends her ironic short goodbye: “Snapchat is the best investment I never made! Ha!”

But don’t think Kathy is giving up on social media. “I am definitely not as focused on Facebook as I once was. I’m not walking away … spending far more time on LinkedIn and Twitter. (Twitter still works!),” she says.

Others say Twitter is not their cup of tea, including Andrew Davis, author, The Loyalty Loop, Brandscaping, and Town Inc.; Arnie Kuenn, senior advisor, Vertical Measures; and Tom Martin, president, Converse Digital. But Tom still holds out hope that Twitter can change. “I really, really wish Twitter would focus on becoming the real-time conversation platform that it used to be in the early days instead of the human RSS feed it’s become,” he says.

Buddy Scalera, content strategist, didn’t drag his feet in rejecting some platforms. He already dumped SlideShare, Tumblr, and Flickr.

The #socialmedia channels I dumped are #SlideShare, #Tumblr, and #Flickr, says @BuddyScalera. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Scott Spjut, assistant vice president, social and digital content, Fifth Third Bank, would get rid of every social platform. Rob Walch, vice president, podcaster relations, Libsyn, made a similar declaration before he threw cold water on that thinking: “I would rather just rely on podcasting and blogging – but sadly – I know that is not realistic.”

Keeping up the relationships

While some speakers were both wistful and honest, others stayed in their reality.

Jacquie Chakirelis, director of marketing, Great Lakes Science Center, said she wouldn’t get rid of any social media platform. So did Annie Granatstein, head of WP BrandStudio, The Washington Post: “We want to be wherever the audience is that we are trying to reach in the right way for that platform.”

Viveka von Rosen, chief visibility officer, Vengreso, also isn’t letting any platforms go, though she sees the relationships evolving: “I will probably use Facebook Live less once I get ‘LinkedIn Love’!” (Editor’s note: While it doesn’t look like an official LinkedIn tool with that name is expected soon, the platform isn’t settling for just “likes.” It is adding four more reaction options.)

And Erika Heald, marketing consultant, says she could be on the just-say-no-to-Snapchat list because it’s not her thing, but she isn’t. “I keep up on it in case a client wants it,” Erika says. 

Seeking real relationships

It’s fun to imagine getting rid of a social media platform – and sometimes great therapy (for you and your brand). But Carlos Abler, leader of content marketing strategy, 3M, says brands should ask how they got to the point where failing to connect with people on social is the channel’s fault and not theirs.

We all know any good and sustaining relationship requires a strategy – a reason why you’re together and what you hope to get out of the partnership.

“Rather than eliminate social media from your marketing, redefine which social media platforms and audiences you use in your plans. Where possible, be selective in the options you choose to attract your best customers,” says Heidi Cohen, chief content officer, Actionable Marketing Guide.

OK, now back to the therapy and fun. Which social media channels do you want to throw out with the trash? Which fall into the just can’t-quit-you category. Let us know in the comments. We’re here for you.

Let these and dozens of other marketing experts provide therapy to make your content marketing program healthier. Attend Content Marketing World Sept. 3-6. Register today using code CMIBLOG100 to save $100. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Ann Gynn

Ann Gynn edits the CMI blog. She also serves as the Tech Tools editor for Chief Content Officer magazine. Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. Former college adjunct faculty, Ann also helps train professionals in content so they can do it themselves. Follow Ann on Twitter @anngynn or connect on LinkedIn.

Other posts by Ann Gynn

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