Abandoning Social Channels: When to Move On
By Karen Geier
Social media only has one true rule, and that is: the rules are constantly changing. It’s important to do a lot of research into social channels before you open accounts with them so you can gauge whether the money and time you put into a channel will net you your desired results. But what happens if either your brand or your follower base grow out of your use for a channel? Do you stick it out?
Knowing the Signs a Channel Isn’t Performing
It’s important to not confuse a social channel’s poor performance with a channel simply not generating what you expected. If you thought you would get 20% engagement on Facebook and it’s closer to 2%, that might be a problem of planning and not of execution. True signs of a channel that’s not connecting are:
- Popular posts or users do not resemble yours: This is not a strict rule, as your brand might be using a channel in an inventive way, but what you can glean from what’s trending are the general tastes of a given channel. If your posts no longer look like ones that resonate, you might want to rethink your use for this channel.
- Dwindling numbers: Despite putting up fresh content regularly and delivering what you think your core followers want, you’re losing followers. This is a clear-cut sign.
- Low(ering) engagement: If you’re posting appropriate content at the times you have historically seen similar content perform well, and your engagement is dropping off, it’s likely the results you’re getting from this channel will not recover.
If you know for sure that your channel isn’t performing (or that you’re spending money and time on diminishing returns) it’s time to consider an exit plan.
Creating an Exit Plan
It’s easy enough to simply delete an account, but it’s not the most elegant way to end a relationship. It’s also a perfect opportunity to recapture some of your followers on other channels you might be on. Creating an exit plan leaves you ample opportunity to exit gracefully and grab any followers who might want to stay in touch.
Assigning a Timeline: Make sure you give yourself some time to plan your final posts and to work on a recapture message. Depending on the size of your follower group, this could be a week to a month. Figure out how long it will take you to solicit followers on your other channels and to wrap up your messaging.
Planning For Recapture: It’s not enough to just ask your followers to follow you somewhere else. You should prioritize your other accounts by which ones you think could benefit from new, qualified followers. Find a way to tailor transition messaging for each one, and work these into your goodbye message.
Your Goodbye Message: You really shouldn’t need to do much more than thank your fans, let them know where to find you and declare your final day of the account. You can leverage the approaching date to motivate followers to switch to your other accounts if you deem that a viable strategy (the hard sell will not fit every brand).
Your Channel Postmortem
You should conduct a postmortem on your abandoned channel so everyone on the team is aware of why it happened and can gain valuable data and information for future media channels. Adhering to this process and conducting it shortly after you abandon the channel will make your exits easier in future. Make detailed notes and charts of the following:
- What date your decline began: Look closely at the metrics you can pull to figure out when your channel decline happened.
- What contributed to channel decline: Did your content make a tonal shift? Did you assign a different creative team? Did the channel itself evolve into something new (or make material changes, like charging for premium services)? Point to all possible changes that have data to back them up.
- What you might do differently next time: Knowing you can’t go back in time, outline tangible steps you could take if this ever happens to another channel you use. Were there opportunities to change your content that could have recovered the channel? Were there ways to cut hours and spend without sacrificing quality? Look for actionable learnings.
It’s easy to convince your team members to pick up a hot new social media channel, especially if they are personally enjoying using it. But once you open that account and begin creating content for it, you will need to nurture your channel. It’s important to note that not every channel will be successful for every brand. Smart brands closely monitor for channel die-off and make adjustments, but smarter brands quickly recognize when it’s time to cut bait, and make their exit.