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Improving the Performance of Your Digital Marketing

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I do not have a Facebook account, though you may see some with my photos. I used to have a Facebook account. But I also wanted to share about my businesses on my account. In my Facebook connections are families, relatives, friends and others. I knew I wanted to share about my businesses, but I was concerned that it was not really appropriate for families to wake up only to read feeds about business and strategies. I had assumed that Facebook is for family moments and touting business there may be non-optimal, especially to kinsmen and close families. Since I could not manage the conflicts, I deactivated the account (temporarily).

But in LinkedIn, I felt we all come there to do business. It is a professional ecosystem, and we try not to add personal elements to it, unless on professional settings. While it is fine to share pictures of your baby learning to walk on Facebook, on LinkedIn, that may not be well received, unless in a closed group. Most people come to LinkedIn for business and professional connections, and discussing business strategies is certainly appropriate.

My business has business accounts (the pages) in Facebook including one for Tekedia, this blog. We automatically sync contents published on Tekedia to Facebook. Usually, when we login to Facebook account of Tekedia, we see the contents. However, few weeks ago, we noticed that Facebook had redesigned its algorithm making it impossible for others to see the contents. But when we manually share the contents on Tekedia Facebook page, it would be visible to other Facebook users.

Technically, Facebook was not really interested in web robots sending contents to its platform. It wants people to come in person and share. Contents which are automatically sync’d to Facebook cannot be boosted (or promoted through advertisement). You have to manually post a content on Facebook before Facebook will allow you to boost the content.
JP Morgan Chase puts contents through its CEO account, it goes viral. But the same content via JPMC account, no one cares (WSJ)

Small Experiment

When we noticed the absolute suppression of sync’d contents, on Facebook, my team decided to post contents, on Facebook, from Tekedia manually for some weeks.  As they posted, they tracked impacts. Then after days, it was clear that Facebook was not distributing the contents extensively: sometimes, Facebook puts the contents in the feeds of only five users. In other words, Facebook is not crazy in distributing the contents. But when the same contents are shared on personal feeds of my colleagues, Facebook distributes them to more users. Quickly, we noticed that Facebook prioritizes friends’ shares over those shared by media or company pages. Immediately, we stopped paying attention to Facebook from Tekedia account.

Sure – Facebook works, but for it to work on a company Facebook page, the users have to come to the page to read the content and where possible share it. Facebook by itself does not distribute contents from company pages that much. Where the users do not come, posting on pages may be a waste of time.

This Facebook experience is typical with LinkedIn. LinkedIn company posts are not well positioned. Fewer people see them compared to personal posts, other things being equal (similar number of followers, type of contents, etc).

The Emerging Model

Both LinkedIn and Facebook expect the company pages to pay so that their contents can be massively distributed. But since they need users, they still allow the personal connections to deepen as that is the business (both the company pages and personal accounts are run by humans, who make decisions). Yes, they cannot afford to annoy the users if they want to remain in business. So, the personal sharing and connections work well, even as they frustrate businesses, especially small ones that cannot afford to pay.

It is highly unlikely that you will get any attraction on Facebook and LinkedIn these days,, from company pages, without investing money. Even if your contents are great, they will stall.

But put $100 behind those (company page) contents on LinkedIn and Facebook, within hours, thousands of people will see them, as they will massively distribute the contents. Suddenly, the contents which have been ignored are now popular. There is nothing wrong with that: it is their business systems under free enterprise. But I want you to understand this as you structure your digital marketing engagement. Opening company accounts on social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn and expecting that posting contents there (without ads) will do the magic is an illusion.
Snapchat starts algorithm-personalized redesign splitting social and media (credit: Techcrunch)

Snapchat Comes Clean

I have never used Snapchat to know how it works. But I liked this content from TechCrunch newsletter:

In an op-ed for Axios, CEO Evan Spiegel said, “We are separating the social from the media.”

More specifically, the redesign will place all messages and Stories from friends to the left of the camera (with content from your closest friends prioritized), while message and Stories from publishers and celebrities will show up on the right.

Essentially, Snapchat is going a step further by physically making it obvious on the prioritization of contents. The Left side contents are from friends and families while the Right contents are from companies/celebs. If Snapchat has company pages, similar to Facebook and LinkedIn, it would be expected that it would make contents on such irrelevant in its systems.

Understanding The Factors

You need a personal account to promote your business on social media. In other words, the best way to build organic social media marketing is to run it through personal accounts. The days of wasting efforts on branded company pages are about gone. One press release on partnership from your personal LinkedIn or Facebook account will likely get more traction than the one from your business social media page.

This observation is not new: most U.S. companies, upon hiring executives, ask them to surrender rights to their personal social media accounts or they will be given new ones through which they will “work” from. In other words, a CEO of company BBB will have a LinkedIn account with his name. But that account will not belong to him. Understand that the CEO will have staff working on his social media presence and the company invests on making sure it is right. If that CEO wants to leave, he/she cannot take control of that account. Why? He might have built 100k users but that was not because of his efforts: those users are for the company.

One CEO was fired and within minutes, he wanted to login into his LinkedIn only to notice that his password had been changed. Then he recalled that he waived the rights to keep the account, upon leaving the company. He had tens of thousands of users. The company will delete contents, and change the profile for the next CEO. For companies like CNN, they do create new accounts for staff. When a staff departs, CNN keeps the account: you do not move with the users.

If you have left the company, there is no need for contents shared in your capacity as CEO to be in your thread on that LinkedIn or Twitter account. (In some cases, part of disengagement negotiation can include leaving the social media account with the executive, but the company will wipe the contents).

Linda Ikeji: The Queen of Blog

Linda Ikeji is peerless in understanding how social media and blogging work. She is better than any Nigerian including those that work for Google and Facebook. I do not read her works because the focus is not my interests. Yet, I wanted to know why she was successful. Most Nigerian companies put Linka Ikeji on their tags to get traffic. I spent time and saw an interview where she explained her minor secrets. The key two points are:

  • To succeed in blogging, you must reveal your identity.
  • You must write on things people will be interested on.

These observations look common until you put them in perspectives. When she started blogging more than a decade ago, most people blogged with pseudonyms or simply ‘editors’: Linda used her real name, and went ahead to name the blog after herself. She brought authenticity and connected with people, as they knew who was writing.

In the interview, Linda made it clear that without that real identify, you lose authenticity. She explained that contents have values due to the creator and not just the contents; anyone that wants to do well in connecting with readers must be open. Her other point was self-explanatory. Of course, some do click-bait. Yet, every person must find ways to understand what the audience wants.

All Together

A social media account is a business tool and companies have understood that speaking from the human element is more impactful. A post shared from the personal account of CEO of BBB will get more traction than one shared by BBB. With that understanding, BBB will put efforts to nurture the CEO social media accounts.

For you, as a small business owner or entrepreneur, you need to evolve out of your shells. If you think you will hide and run a good social media marketing, you will not succeed. All those nice contents on your company accounts are there but people do not pay attention, because no one knows the human elements behind them.

How many times have you visited a blog, maintained by nobody or no-name? I do not think you waste your time reading such blogs. You want to know the person writing and the person must disclose his or her identity before you care what the contents say. That is the same algorithm they have automated in Facebook and LinkedIn: there is the supremacy of friend connections over company contents. Linka Ikeji had implemented that algorithm in her business model a decade ago: she made everyone a “friend” by revealing her identity when others were hiding on the web.

— Read my new books Africa’s Sankofa Innovation and Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics (coming soon). Both books, exclusive articles and more for $20 (or N7,000) per year.

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