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Social Media Marketing

Brands have lost the point of social media. It's time for a renaissance.

By Jeremy Raimboux, Strategist

Hey Honey


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August 4, 2023 | 7 min read

Have we become so fixated on the rush for endless content on an endless number of platforms (hello Threads!) that we've forgotten why we are on social media at all? Hey Honey’s Jeremy Raimboux thinks so.

Officers and other Civic Guardsmen of the IV District of Amsterdam

Is it time for a social media renaissance? / Europeana via Unsplash / Rijksmuseum

Something feels off with social media.

The playground of social media has turned into a battlefield where brands evolve with the constant pressure to post, rather than focusing on why they’re there. There's no sugar-coating it: the relentless pursuit of mass content has forced brands to fight for visibility, making it increasingly challenging to maintain a genuine connection with followers.

Organic reach and engagement scores have plummeted, pushing brands to rely on paid boost strategies to meet objectives. Each platform has its own set of rules and ‘best practices,’ adding to the suffocating ambiance. TikTok alone recommends at least three posts a day to stay relevant. Multiply that by the ambition to maintain a presence on (at least) three different platforms, and you have a few calls to make.

Managing social media channels often feels like struggling against waves instead of riding them. The annual Ragnarök of algorithm changes is a stark reminder of how brands are at the mercy of the platforms, challenging the true significance of a brand’s presence.

Still, no brand can afford to ignore social media. Nine out of ten people say they buy from companies they follow on social networks. Only rare specimens, like Lush, have forgone social media and embraced the unknown.

Undoubtedly, social media remains a powerful catalyst for any business. But how can brands manage multiple content calendars with limited time for ‘en masse’ creative? Automation seemed like the answer. Seemed like.

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Automation rules

There is no better case than social media to demonstrate the fast-cheap-quality trilemma. Remember, you only get to pick two. Enter automation and widespread standardization across social media.

Strategy goes first, confined to standard objectives and metrics like follower growth, engagement boost, and website traffic. While these metrics are essential (more than a third of social media marketers list these three as their top goals), they often distract us from the true purpose of our social presence.

In pursuit of quantity in record time, creative quality is the next casualty. Enter ‘hygiene’ content: quick and snappy ill-produced ‘ideas’ dispensed by blogs, platforms, apps, AI – and agencies – enabling anyone to create content for the cost of a copy-paste.

Get your hygiene bingo card out and see how many of these you can tick off:

  • Motivational quotes

  • Behind-the-scenes

  • Seasonal content

  • Quizzes

  • User-generated content

  • Memes

  • GIFs

  • The all-mighty giveaway

Hygiene content is a red flag, highlighting how easily we can lose sight of our purpose. If content volume reigns supreme, what is our social media strategy truly achieving for our brand? It’s time for a recalibration.

Rediscovering the promise of social media

Let's take a step back and reflect on what all your sweat and tears are achieving for your brand. Well-managed social channels remain an incredible opportunity for brands to come to life. After all, we use human vocabulary to describe social presence: we craft tones of voice, shape a look and feel, join conversations, and build communities. Organic engagement is still one of the strongest metrics we preach at Hey Honey as a key identifier of relevance to your consumers.

Social media exists for brands to experiment, change, fail and start again at a speed never experienced before in marketing. To fully leverage its potential, brands must engage social media with a separate approach, focusing on long-term brand growth rather than succumbing to the pressure of short-term results.

We all love brands like Wendy's, Mailchimp, Oreo, Glossier, Duolingo, and Ryanair. Even Oatly. They make brands more relatable than ever and succeed by not shying away from their potential.

They nurture their identity and prioritize honest interactions. In doing so, they build undeniable equity – and love. Brands gain nothing from holding back, playing safe, or letting their legal department scrutinize every asset. Let’s glow up again.

From your dark times to your renaissance

Yes, your social media strategy still needs objectives and KPIs, but they should coexist with an ambition to nurture and build your brand before being pressured to produce mass content. We all want to create content that our audience will love and remember. But before thinking about your followers, I urge you to think about yourself first.

Take a moment to be selfish and find your why. Go back to the basics of your brand, search for the sweet spot between brand growth and audience love, and discover what will make you stand out. Find it, and add it to your objectives. Invest in your brand properly. Your social media renaissance begins here. You're worth it.

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