The mornings are cold, the gym is packed with fresh faces and Cadbury’s Creme Eggs are back on the shelves of your local supermarket.
It can only be January.
The seasonally popular Easter treat has been a fixture of the spring holiday since 1971 and is perhaps more synonymous with a single event than any other chocolate in the UK.
Buoyed by its enduring status, Cadbury did experiment with an annual sales cycle 25 years ago. But it quickly became apparent that Creme Egg fatigue meant that the warm months of summer quickly melted consumer appetite.
In fact, across the four months in which the egg is made available each year, more units are sold than when it was available through the summer and autumn.
Perhaps the Creme Egg is one of the purest examples of scarcity breeding demand – albeit probably not enough to justify keeping one in a glass cabinet for the best part of half a century.
And so, finally, what does the humble Creme Egg have to do with your social media strategy?
B2B publishing and the basic premise – and promise – of social media are not easy bedfellows.
The medium is far more suited to the whims of the B2C publisher – where reach at ever-increasing scale is a desirable outcome and can even make or break a business in rapid time.
The B2B universe is different – not least because the anticipated audience for a project of this type is usually finite and easy enough to define.
B2B audiences don’t traditionally follow the same logic of growth and acquisition. Content generated for a niche demographic shouldn’t be universally relevant – if it is, audience pollution becomes inevitable and other key performance indicators start to look sub-standard as a result.
Yet, the format remains enticing. Perhaps because B2B is always looking at more moneyed B2C publishers for clues on what to do with other areas of strategy, but also because the desired user base is tantalisingly close by – if only you could filter out the rest.
B2B clients, hamstrung by their own internal expectations around growth and budget justification, frequently add an extra layer of complication to the conundrum. They push for B2C-style growth on an audience that remains static or diminished.
Some like it bot
Progressive Content introduced a new social media arm in 2017 and we’ve done extensive research and experimentation on how best to reach niche audiences in a world where social media analytics are lacking in their ability to measure success based on quality.
An unexpected development came last year when we – mindful of the Creme Egg principle – started to lock down the broadcasts from one of our client’s Twitter accounts. In other words, all users needed to be pre-approved before accessing any of our tweets, removing the ability to indiscriminately retweet to wide, often irrelevant audiences.
The initial goal was to limit the number of bot and fake accounts clogging up follow numbers and compromising engagement figures. As such, we’d mentally prepared for a slight drop in social traffic – a decline that would have been deemed acceptable collateral damage in the pursuit of a cleaner channel.
However, much to our immediate surprise, post engagement rates tripled, and while retweets were no longer possible, Twitter’s algorithm, which now uses likes as a relevance device by which to colour a user’s timeline, allowed us to maintain visibility within a well-defined content universe – one over which we had far greater influence.
Despite the loss of retweets, social traffic also remained consistent which coloured for us just how frequently the traffic benefits of a passive social engagement – a well meaning but irrelevant share from an old friend or colleague, perhaps – is grossly overstated.
Too bot to handle?
So, should you take this opportunity to lock your social accounts down?
Clients can, and do, flitter between goals of non-proportionate growth of reach and certain expectations around engagement, so you may find yourself needing to test the principle over a short trial period.
However, the average B2B publisher ought to realise that help in this area is hardly coming fast and it is down to them to fight the twin demons of engagement-sapping bots and non-relevant audience.
B2B trends often take a long time to reflect the more cutting-edge moves in the B2C world. Therefore, a Blockchain-backed network to help validate audience – frequently mooted as a technology for the future of social media – should be treated as a mirage for the average B2B publisher.
Until a version of this sort of technology arrives, it falls on the shoulders of the publisher to take control and responsibility for who accesses their content and how.
Cameron Sharpe, Head of Insight, Progressive Content