Why did you get Facebook? Twitter? Hell, why did you get MySpace? It was probably to keep in touch with friends, old and new, or maybe to remind yourself of the glorious summer days gone by and the great nights out that prolonged the turning of a new day; an extensive photo album that documented the highs and lows of life well lived. We took to the social networks to share, to become part of a wider community… and to play FarmVille.
Let me ask you this - what has social media done for you lately? How life changing was the Facebook timeline, or the new Twitter cover photo? They’re not exactly slap-in-the-face upgrades to your life; it’s the social media equivalent of the release of Coke Zero - I’ll drink it but inevitably life ticks on by. Anyway, the point I’m getting towards is that everything that changes on social media networks is generally geared towards advertisers and everything you hear in the news is about how they’re failing advertisers. Look no further than our buddy Facebook and it’s plummeting share price.
Don’t get me wrong, as an advertising type, I believe social media when harnessed right has huge potential for brands, that fact is undeniable. Facebook have invested huge amounts of capital into helping brands advertise, the pinnacle being Reach Generator - a revolutionary, yet overly complicated, way for brands to engage through Facebook. It’s now been scraped. Nicholas Carlson of the San Francisco Chronicle questions ‘Can you imagine if Apple announced an iPhone and then cancelled it six months later?’ People would not be happy.
The difference between Facebook and Apple is that Apple creates its products with the users in mind. With the users on board and happy, sales go up and a loyal following adds weight to a warmly received advertising campaign. By contrast social networks, are now being geared towards the advertiser in a desperate attempt to monetize the platform, users are considered mere numbers and pools of data… I’m reminded of the fact I accidentally liked KFC Australia on a daily basis. Furthermore, the new Twitter cover photo adds a billboard element to a platform that is being more and more dominated by advertising and brands, not the general user who helped sculpt the network in the first place.
No doubt brands have made great moves in the realm of social media, but the focus must move more towards the users before social networks can look to generate revenue through their respective platforms. And if this doesn’t happen sites such as app.net, which provided users with a way to view their existing feeds without ads for a annual fee of $50, will continue to rise in popularity. It’s not a huge amount of money to pay, but could have severe implications for advertisers in the future. Real talk.