Facebook. Google+. Twitter. Pinterest. LinkedIn. These, and many more of the specialized social media networks that are out there, all have a challenge.
Monetizing that mass of data buried in the social graph.
Certainly there’s no shortage of firms waiting to get access to what potential customers are thinking, saying, snarking about. Talk about directed advertising!
Unfortunately, it’s a poor mesh with what people do on social networks, that does more to drive people away than entice them in.
Start with mobile. More and more social network traffic is done from mobile devices.
Small screens, and tight data plans, combine to make “not wasting my time and money” a primary driver. Every text, message, photo and short video sent and received is about the user’s interests and friends — not about some company trying to horn into the discussion.
A single sponsored tweet showing up on the Twitter timeline can set teeth grinding.
As companies have discovered, you can build a Google+ business page, or a Facebook “fan” page, but that doesn’t mean people will come. As anyone who’s seen what a moderately sophisticated user of these services does with the ability to hide or mute what they don’t want to see, messages from those liked or circled pages are easily suppressed and never seen.
As for side-of-screen advertising, click-throughs are abysmal on the social media sites (it’s the single biggest reason why Google hasn’t added ads to Google+) compared to other locations — and no one has figured out how to make people look at advertisements happily on a mobile phone. (Android users mostly grumble about it; iPhone users buy the paid version of an app that gets rid of the advertising — a one time investment of a dollar or two that pays dividends for life.)
Analysing the social media data — a big data application — makes a great deal of sense. But the vast majority of corporations haven’t yet figured out how to handle what would work in social media outreach: real people talking to other real people about anything and everything and thus humanizing the face of the organization they work for (but with what the data tells them in mind).
Push in social media and lose — pull and you just might win.