When it comes to social media, Nike's platforms are considered by many as the gold standard. But why then have they not posted organic content on their Facebook page since mid-2018?
Hop on to their Instagram account, and you'll see that even there, they have a minimalistic approach, sometimes posting only once a month. Look closer, and you'll realize that their marketing strategy on Instagram is superb. Their account has more than 122 million followers, and they use raw human emotion to customers to buy their products.
Nike's marketing team knows that there is a lot of clutter on social media and so, instead of just posting about the products they make, they focus on getting people to buy into their brand, the lifestyle they sell and eventually, their products too.
In essence, they curate a bond with their customers through their Instagram account by selling hopes and dreams. Their captions keep users hooked with a call to action, and their photographic content is even more motivating. They keep branding on their photos to a minimum, and use clear and consistent hashtags, in keeping with their brand.
Nike’s Facebook activity has also dropped significantly in recent years. From a high of 836 posts in 2012, the brand has seen a steep decline in posts, declining to just 62 total posts in 2017. More than 60% of these posts were promoted. In terms of content, Nike posted 43 videos and 15 photos. Videos were also the top-performing content for the brand in 2017.
There aren't any definitive reasons for the brand's radio silence on Facebook, except perhaps the recognition that Facebook's algorithm doesn't work in your favor when it comes to organic reach. But it is noteworthy to mention that Nike's dark posts are active across many regions. The dark posts—mostly ads to get people to buy their products—came to a total of 15K posts in 2019, of which 62% were targeted at their U.S. audience and the remaining at their Asian, Australian, and European audiences.
Going viral – in the right way
Nike's viral ad released in July this year garnered praise online for its message of inclusiveness and perseverance at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has upended organized sports.
The video, called "You Can't Stop Us," features a split-screen stitching together footage of athletes of different races. In the two days after it was launched, the video had been viewed 20 million times on Twitter alone.
It had been viewed more than 11 million times on YouTube in the first 24 hours and was generally applauded for its themes of diversity, social justice and collectivism.
Beyond just the messaging, the viral campaign is an excellent example of why they don't need to post excessively on any of their platforms.
A growing list of companies are pulling ads from Facebook. For many of them, it's part of an advertiser boycott in protest of what they say are the site's failures to stop the spread of hate.
A civil rights coalition, which includes the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the NAACP, launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign earlier this year, when it called on major corporations to put a pause on advertising on Facebook, citing the company's repeated failure to address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms meaningfully.
Nike was one of the brands to join the fray, reportedly slashing their daily spending on Facebook and Instagram by $100,000 from early June.
Striving for a change in Facebook's approach towards dealing with hate and misinformation, around 1,100 brands stopped advertising on the social media giant. While some brands – like Target and Best Buy - resumed their ad spend after July, many others extended the boycott to September, and there are many still who don't plan on continuing advertising on Facebook anytime soon.
The ad spend on Facebook may, however, not have as much to do with social justice as it does the crippling effect Covid-19 has had on the economy and marketing budgets which are – unwisely –often the first casualties.
What we can learn from Nike is that a robust paid social strategy should be supported by thoughtful, well-crafted organic posts that aim to build a real, engaged community around the brand.