Social Media: Are You Building on Borrowed Ground?

For brands, social media is a minefield. As we’ve seen in the past 15 years, social networks can come and go practically overnight. It’s hard to develop a media plan when you’re unsure about a channel’s long-term viability.

As we’ve seen in the past 15 years, social networks can come and go practically overnight. It’s hard to develop a media plan when you’re unsure about a channel’s long-term viability.

Social networks themselves are becoming less and less brand-friendly, as well.

This is all part of their business model, of course. First, they build an audience by getting people addicted to their platform, and brands follow—investing in the kind of content that will gain them likes and followers. Once the social networks reach a critical mass of brand users, they dial back those users’ organic reach.

Eventually, the platform becomes less social and more of a “pay to play” environment.

We’re seeing this happen now on Facebook. Organic reach for brands on the platform has reached an all-time low of 2%. The same will happen with Instagram, Snapchat, and others. More and more, social networks are becoming another paid media channel. Or, more accurately, a leased media channel.

Another way of thinking about this is that social media is borrowed ground for brands—ground that can change its algorithms, or lose the interest of the crowd, overnight.

Social media isn’t without benefits, It provides great opportunities for brands to engage and reach their customers directly. That’s something that most corporate websites are lacking.

Plus, consumers love to interact with each other to share opinions and write reviews. Consider these statistics:

70% of customers trust product reviews from their peers (PDF). Customer reviews are trusted 12x more than advertising. Brands see an uplift in conversion of 25% with user-generated photos. And Millennials trust user-generated content 50x more than mainstream media content.

So what’s the solution? How do you provide social features that enhance trust and increase revenue on media that you own?

For a large and growing number of companies, a branded community is the answer. Communities enable brands to become less dependent on paid media, while building better relationships with their customers.

As these 10 stories show, communities help turn customers into brand advocates. Customer communities help brands provide better service, get more loyal customers, and increase conversion rates by up to 400%.

In addition, communities produce a wealth of user-generated content—the kind that search engines love. This “long tail” of real human discussions can provide a substantial SEO boost: Sonos, for example, has received more than 5M visits to its community from organic search.

Curious to learn how your brand could benefit from a branded community? Get started with our free ebook to read success stories from 10 real brands—including some of the biggest telecom operators in Europe.




Back to blog overview

Share this article:


Bart Meerdink

Social Business Strategist at inSided, injecting social into brands like KPN, SoundCloud, T-Mobile and Eneco. Humanizing digital is a common theme in his work, and in his belief the only relevant differentiator in an increasingly automated world. Connect on LinkedIn

Learn more

Learn more and the power of conversations via our webinars, case studies and other resources.

Stay updated

Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive social business insights, case studies and relevant news in your inbox each month.