4 reasons to stop depending on social media for audience data and community building

Over-reliance on social media is one of the biggest mistakes that media companies make. Many brands spend so much time and money trying to develop content for social media even though their business models don’t benefit media organizations, nor are their community guidelines aligned. 

Worse still, even if an organization builds a following on social media, their operations are susceptible to social media companies and big-tech changing rules that can destroy their hard work overnight. 

The writing on the wall is that over the long term, depending on social media for audience data is a lost cause.

With Pew Research finding that the percentage of US adults getting their news from social media decreased from 36% in 2020 to 31% in 2021, now is the ideal time for companies to start investing in building their communities on their own websites, so they can start collecting, maintaining, and learning from their first-party data.

We’ll examine four reasons to reduce your dependency on social media, so that you can generate better results for your content. 

1. Gathering first-party data

One of the core problems with staying on social media is that you have to rely on third parties to collect data on your audience. While social media providers’ analytics solutions are useful, they give you limited controls over how you analyze user data and the insights you can gain into their preferences. 

By moving off social media and building a user community on your owned and operated sites, you can collect first-party data from your audience and provide customers with new data signals that they don’t currently have to enhance your data strategy. This also allows you to make better editorial and personalization decisions. 

The ability to develop more sophisticated insights is a key reason why 88% of marketers say collecting first-party data was a priority last year.

2. Reducing toxicity

It’s no secret that toxicity, harassment, and abuse on social media are rampant. Organizations like Facebook and Twitter have consistently failed to address these issues, both for audiences and journalists. 

A recent survey found that 8 out of 10 journalists said harassment on social media is a “very big” or “moderately big” problem. Another study finds that 79% of users say social media companies are doing an only fair or poor job of addressing online harassment or bullying. 

To prevent toxicity and ensure commenters and journalists alike are safe to voice their opinions, it’s critical to build a user community on your site with an AI-moderated community engagement solution that can automatically remove hateful or abusive content before it deters users from contributing to the conversation. 

3. Creating a connection with your audience

Building a connection with your audience is vital for establishing long-term loyalty and keeping users coming back for more. Developing a user community on your site and providing opportunities for them to influence the direction of live content is an excellent way to show you value their opinions. 

For example, a journalist can produce a Q&A session on current events, from the Ukraine war to COVID-19 travel restrictions, to answer the audience’s top questions and offer more relevant content or coverage. 

Live blogs, Q&As and AMA sessions are all examples of content you can create on your site that you can’t replicate on social media, and are used by some of the top media companies in the world, including the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Independent.

4. Limited reach on social media

In recent years, social media companies have become increasingly pay-to-play and limited the organic reach of content to incentivize organizations to pay for advertising to reach users. This has had the side effect of decreasing the visibility of free content.

For instance, Facebook posts reach an average of 2.2% of followers on a page, which makes it difficult to deliver content to users consistently. 

So if you want to maximize engagement on your content, you need to offer it to your audience on your own site and use platforms like Facebook and Twitter as tools to funnel traffic.

Stop using social media to build a user community

Social media is a useful tool for advertising your brand, but it’s not the best place to build a user community, start a conversation, or generate detailed insights into your audience. 

By implementing community engagement solutions on your owned and operated digital properties, you can put your site at the heart of your user community and start gathering first-party audience data to better understand your users’ interests and preferences.

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