3 social media tips you can use today

Why does Twitter bleed cash while Facebook prints money? Why should you care?

Twitter revealed earlier this year (via its annual 10-K filing) that it has lost over $2 billion since it launched a decade ago.

Why? It boils down to the thing that is most rare in the digital realm: attention. When was the last time you heard someone say, “I’m bored”? Does that saying even exist anymore? How can you possibly be bored when you have an unlimited amount of options to capture your attention?

So, why has Twitter lost $2 billion?

Here’s my interpretation: compared to LinkedIn and Facebook, Twitter can’t retain visitors using its service. It’s really, really hard to attract visitors to your website/platform/app, and it’s even harder to get them to stay. Platform users spending less time = less ad revenue.

Twitter is the modern-day version of Short Attention Span Theater.

If you’re using Twitter, literally every 140 characters (or less) are inviting you to go somewhere other than Twitter. Why does 1/3 or 1/2 of my company’s website traffic come from Twitter? Because I use the platform to invite people to my website.

It’s an awesome deal for me (since it’s free) and it’s a lousy deal for Twitter.

Before discussing Facebook and LinkedIn, let’s pause for a moment to analyze what motivates social media companies. The vast majority of services available on each platform are free. How are these companies making money? To best optimize the social media marketing strategy for your company, it’s important to understand how these platforms generate revenue and why they’re willing to give so much away for free, to both you and everyone else.

Here’s a simple analysis from YouTube: YouTube transmits the second-most video content through the Internet, trailing Netflix. YouTube is free, however, while Netflix is not. Which company owns YouTube, by the way? Google.

Is it free for YouTube/Google to host your videos on their servers? Of course not. How does Google make money from YouTube, then? Once someone clicks on a link to start a video, Google can — at its discretion — show an ad before or during the video. No longer does Google need web visitors to click on ads above or to the right of their search results. The more videos people watch from YouTube/Google, the more the advertisers pay into their coffers.

Of the three social media platforms we’re discussing (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), only one (LinkedIn) has a premium membership. If you want more in-depth information about certain people, you need to pay for it. The other companies simply make their money from serving you ads. So, how are these platforms sure that you’re going to see — and more importantly act — on those ads?

Far and away, their most important objective is to capture and retain your attention. Think about it this way – if you were the only one on Facebook, would it be worth anything? It only begins to gain value as many, many people use it to share their lives. Facebook as a website, or Facebook as an app on a phone or tablet, is a captive platform. In other words, everything you see in their ecosystem — so to speak — is exactly what they want you to see.

The News Feed portion of your Facebook site uses complex algorithms to gauge the importance of your friends’ posts. Instead of simply being a repository for a bunch of status updates, selfies, and videos, Facebook has become a purveyor of content. As a result, Facebook wants to show you things that are important, entertaining, or engaging to you.

Everyone has a unique Facebook experience as a result of this complex software. As an advertiser, if you’d like to promote a post to 25- to 30-year-old, college-educated women in Chicago who have recently gotten engaged, Facebook is the place to do it since Facebook has gotten that data directly from the person herself.

Facebook is the best social platform at retaining its visitors, and that’s why the company made over $1 billion last quarter. How? Here’s a statement and a question:

Google Chrome is the most popular web browser. What’s No. 2?

Before I reveal the answer, please do this — take out your phone, open Facebook, and click a link to an article appearing on your News Feed. See that big blue bar at the top? That’s the Facebook browser. Eighty percent of people are using Facebook on their phones, and whenever you open links Facebook is watching what you’re doing.

Just as importantly, when you close the window of the article you’ve read, you’re still within the Facebook app. Platform users spending more time, which equals more ad revenue.

So, what’s the No. 2 most-used web browser? Not Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox. It’s Facebook.

What about LinkedIn? Why did LinkedIn launch a dedicated publishing platform? Instead of sending its visitors to another website it doesn’t own, LinkedIn encourages people like you and me to use this as their blog. LinkedIn wants to show its visitors compelling, long-form business-related content, and by providing its publishing platform for free, its repository of thought leadership grows daily.

What can you do ensure you get more social media attention from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter? Think like they do. Think to yourself, “Are these platforms giving me the opportunity to use the tools they have? Can I help them keep their visitors on their site?”

Here are three simple tips you can implement to earn more social media attention:

  1. Don’t link to YouTube videos on your Facebook posts. Upload your recordings directly to Facebook instead. Facebook wants people to watch videos on their platform. This is referred to as a “native” upload. Instead of a link requiring someone to push “play,” Facebook auto-plays your videos as a user scrolls through their News Feed. By the way, these videos auto-play without volume, so close captioning your videos is a major plus.
  2. If appropriate, use the LinkedIn publishing platform (LinkedIn calls articles like these Posts) to write articles educating your target audience. LinkedIn rewards you by letting your ENTIRE network know that you’ve written a new Post.
  3. Keep sending visitors to your website by posting to Twitter. Either they’ll figure out this whole “losing money” thing or go out of business. In the interim, link to your own site in your tweets and watch traffic to your website soar.

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