Sarah Kwast, Social Media Community Manager, Rooster Strategic Solutions

Buying social used to be easy. Just put all your money in Facebook, and if you have a little extra, experiment with Twitter.

But last week, Facebook lost a quarter of its market value – $85 billion – thanks to growing competition from TikTok, continued fallout from Apple’s new ad-tracking changes, and an expensive obsession with the metaverse, Reality Labs, that has chewed up more than $27 billion to date.

Meanwhile, Twitter has become a carnival ride, and advertisers are frightened. Some, including General Mills, Pfizer, and Volkswagen, have already pushed pause on Twitter. Many others are scaling back with a promise to bail completely if former President Trump’s account is reinstated, if a rumored $8 subscription fee is implemented, or for any number of other sins that might be committed by new ownership.

It’s an excellent time to practice channel optimization, reviewing the changing landscape to ensure that the media you’ve chosen are still hitting your business goals and marketing objectives. With that in mind, here are a few recommendations.

Instagram often wins in the influencer game, and it does so cheaper than the forced video options in YouTube and TikTok. Instagram Reels gave advertisers a new 30-second ad slot last year, and the company is testing shorter 4- to 10-second ads that will play after the Reel is over. Many see Instagram as more of a B-to-C option than a voice for ag companies. But a poll from Farm Futures found that Instagram is more than three times as popular with farmers aged 35 and under. Plus, it has a 50/50 split on gender.

Pinterest continues to churn along and gain followers, but its lopsided female-to-male ratio – now sitting at 77 percent – has pushed people away in the past. That’s a pity, because paid pins live on long after you’ve stopped paying to support them, which flies in the face of other pay-for-play options, and 90 percent of the users make purchase decisions based on those pins. That’s the most successful conversion rate of any social channel. Pinterest fits a role and does it well.

One of my colleagues has loudly and repeatedly stated that YouTube is NOT a social channel. Having said that, it may be a viable alternative for ag marketers currently optimizing their social channels. The reason? Its massive, unbeatable scale. Users spend more time on YouTube than any other social network, and the site reaches more adults aged 18 to 24 than any of the TV networks. Small wonder that 50 percent of marketers surveyed last year said they’re planning to increase their investment in YouTube; 20 percent claimed to make it their top platform. YouTube has long ruled the long-form video content world, and added YouTube Shorts last year, a short-form platform that lets users create videos 60 seconds or less.

Is it time for ag companies embrace Tik Tok? Maybe. But be aware of the obstacles. You need to know more than the latest dance steps to make this channel work for your company.

Social channel optimization is more complex than optimizing within a medium, such as A/B testing your creative or finessing subject lines. But social media, despite the scale and impact it provides, still retains more than a bit of the wild west from where it originated. It can change quickly, and radically, and the channel you chose last month to meet a specific business challenge may no longer be appropriate. Agility is paramount. If you have questions or need an unbiased professional look at your social strategy, I’d love to have a conversation.