hotel california effect social media sbn marketing stephanie boyette nelsonpost by Stephanie Nelson

I was recently doing research on social media trends for 2016 – in part to keep up with the industry, in part looking for ideas for blog posts. As I was reading an article on Ad Age, one bit stood out to me. It said:

“The Hotel California effect will change the game.
Increasingly, social networks are becoming Hotel Californias — closed systems where you can check out, but you can never leave. Snapchat doesn’t lead outside the network, Instagram barely does and Facebook is making every effort to keep users from heading outside of its walled garden. More alarmingly, Twitter users are increasingly hesitant to click on links — the behavior is mirroring the platform shifts. The implications for marketers are enormous: Brands will need to optimize for on-platform success and conversation, and minimize CTAs and clickthroughs.”

If you know me, you know the first thing I did was start singing “you can check out any time you’d like, but you can never leave” in my head. But then I started considering what the article was saying…and why I’d never thought about it before.

I rarely use Snapchat, so that one made sense that I’d never noticed you couldn’t leave. I’d noticed it on Instagram in that links in captions aren’t clickable, but I just kind of accepted it as that’s how the platform works. I’d noticed that on the Facebook mobile app they’d removed the “Open in Safari” option when you click on a link. Now THAT I noticed, but I just went with some workarounds I found.

But the article’s right: the implications for this type of set up within the platforms are major for marketers. I have a couple clients for whom Twitter and/or Facebook are the top referring sites for website traffic each month. If Facebook continues toward closing itself off and Twitter users are increasingly less likely to click on links, this is going to mean a major shift in our social strategies! It’s going to mean a change in what we post and where we post. It may mean moving away from these outlets altogether. I foresee a lot of A/B testing coming up with my clients, and seeing what works and what doesn’t.

So what does the Hotel California Effect mean for you? Are you going to have to make changes in your social strategy? What workarounds are you going to try?