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Mar
07

What Does Self-Censorship on Social Media Platforms Have To Do With Social Media Marketing?

by BrandGlue on March 7, 2016
Have you ever typed out a status only to discard it? A recent Facebook study shows that many of us self-censor on Facebook, which could carry some huge lessons for Social Media Marketers and what they should know about their audience.

Have you ever thought of a clever post for a certain social outlet, typed it out, only to find yourself re-writing and crafting it until you get it just right? If so, it turns out you’re not alone. Most people are familiar with that gut-check you experience right before hitting the “post/tweet” button, and it actually is a good thing. It leads to self-censorship (which we all appreciate the most when it is noticeably missing), and can be the impetus for creative breakthroughs. According to a study conducted by researchers at Facebookwho tracked the activity of 3.9 million users over a 17 day period, 71% of users typed out at least one status they later discarded. These charts from Facebook's study on self-censorship show the number of censored (in red) and published (in blue) comments and posts during the study, and where on Facebook they were made. Source: Self Censorship on Facebook

What’s even more interesting is that, on average, they changed their minds on 4.52 statuses and 3.2 comments. The uncertainty about what to post seemed to rise in correlation to the uncertainty about the user’s audience. This probably makes sense of your own experience. Facebook is by far the broadest social media platform, with the most nebulous audience and farthest reach.

Let me give you an example. A few years ago, I tried to purge my Facebook friends because I didn’t even recognize some of the names popping up on my news feed. So I came up with a formula for who would and wouldn’t make the cut. After much belaboring, I shaved my friend list down to just under 1,000. That is a very broad audience, especially when you take into consideration that when I comment on a post, I’m reaching friends of friends, so I am going to be more more careful about what I say. That is self-censorship. We’ve all seen the Facebook debates that ensue when this doesn’t happen.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, is a much more focused audience. These are professional connections so self-censorship is much more simple. This is why you won’t often find people posting about what they had for dinner on LinkedIn.

So what is the takeaway here for marketers? The better we know our audience, the more effectively we can communicate with them. Take the time to understand your demographic by using analytics to understand who they are, where they are from, what interests them, and why they connect with your brand. Analytics can also help you hone your content and zero in on what strikes a chord in them, what they respond to, and when they are listening. Courtney Seiter of the Search Engine Journal gives this advice, “To understand your own audience better, try developing personas. And remember: Just because you don’t always hear from your audience doesn’t mean they’re not listening.”

What are the personas your brand is targeting? Need help identifying them? Send an email to hello@brandglue.com for a free consultation with our team of experts.

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