Is Social Media becoming commercially saturated?
When social media first became recognised as a source of significant value for organisations, the landscape was fresh and ready to be harvested by ambitious businesses large and small. In the beginning as companies tentatively created accounts, grew followings and produced content, and the interaction was usually personal. Users of networks who followed business accounts could ask questions important to their service, and would get a quick responses of real value. This kind of customer service, quite often delivered outside of business hours gave consumers the comfort in knowing that any queries, problems or requirements they may have can be solved at (more or less) any time. These were a few of the more obvious advantages that lead to the ‘invasion’ of social media platforms by the corporate masses. With the concept of ‘real human connections’ leading the way, businesses jumped on the bandwagon, often doing so without any real strategy.
The increased commercialisation of Facebook in particular is a useful example of the changing approach of company pages on the network. Back in January 2013, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stated that nearly half a million pages had tried ‘Promoted Posts’ which allow page owners to pay for certain posts to reach more users and in higher locations in their news feeds. News Feed ads are also seemingly a rising star, with Facebook quoting 65% of total advertisers now paying for that space. Total advertising revenue in 2012 was $4,279m compared to $1,868m in 2010 (http://marketingland.com/facebook-posts-1-58-billion-q4-revenue-5-billon-for-the-year-32099).
The initial barriers between business and consumer that were removed by social media have, unfortunately in some cases started to reappear in a new digital form. As more businesses have attempted to ‘dominate’ rather than engage in this space, a typical news feed can sometimes look rather ‘spammed out’. Naturally occurring problems with scale have also caused problems, especially in organisations with large numbers of followers. Facilitating personalised relationships with thousands of commenting users is a task probably beyond the most numerous social media team.
Get personal again at events…
In the events context, there is no reason that the core benefits of what initially made social appealing to consumers cannot be implemented easily and successfully. Using Twitter Walls allows instant replying to comments in the event situation all in one location, easily allowing for gamification and rewards/incentives. The ‘Twitter Wall’ is essentially the cross-channel solution to all social media at live events, with both positive content easily being organised and separated from complaints and requests. This way, the organisers can provide that level of personalised service that often goes missing in the inevitable social media fog of content.