As a social media manager, I’ve always been optimistic about every business having a social presence. But as the side of my new stapler box encouraged me to follow the company on Twitter, it became clear that corporate reliance on these networks has gone too far.
I have no interest in following the manufacturer of my stapler, and unless you have a significant fascination with this useful piece of office stationary, neither will you.
There seems to be a fascinating sector of businesses that have what I would call entirely pointless social pages, from stag & hen party providers to bingo halls and the aforementioned stapler/staple provider.
And it gets worse for the latter. With what seems to be a fully-fledged Instagram influencer program, they have paid some users to take pictures of their staplers in creatively constructed scenes. While I appreciate the composition and attractiveness of the shots, I’m left far pushed to justify the return on investment – whether financial or intangible – of doing this.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of businesses that benefit from social media, who have an interesting story to tell or have products/brand personality that are widely talked about. But it's very easy to tell when a brand has absolutely nothing of value to bring to these networks, and is just there for the sake of having a page and being down with the kids.
Who should we point the finger at? The entire blame cannot be placed on companies - in fact only a tiny amount of it can. It is not their fault that not only do users just expect all businesses to have a social presence, but Google also heavily weigh in favour of said businesses to have an active set of social media pages.
So what’s the fix here? At the end of the day, social media is a very important communication tool for pretty much the entire planet – people and (most) businesses included. But this idea that every company needs a page has to stop. Google should drop its reliance on ‘social relevance’ in their algorithm, to determine what makes it onto page one.
The previous mix of links from those of a high domain authority, positive business reviews and a quality-based judgement is all that you need for search. Not only would this transform this sad sight of needless company Facebook pages, Google would single-handedly also kill the ‘fake news’ situation too by cutting out it’s only source of search fuel - virality.
Social media is doing just fine on its own and the biggest search engine on the internet doesn’t need to reflect that.
And to these few businesses themselves. While I understand that brand personality is important, there are far better ways to communicate than acting completely out of character and sharing memes or talking about sports “for the boys.” I’ve been a social manager in that inescapable bind too, constantly trying to talk about something that nobody online is remotely interested in talking about.
They don’t want to talk to you. They just want to buy, and that is something social media and the internet in general needs to wrap its head around.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.