There are changes afoot in the world of social media. From a commercial standpoint, the pressure is on for social media firms to grow their businesses, mainly through attracting new users. At the same time, they need to strike a balance between capitalising on the advertising opportunities that a growing user base offers without turning off existing users by bombarding them with ads.
Linked to the rising popularity of digital channels and connected devices, online advertising has exploded in recent years and the rise of new niche competitors on the block means that social media sites must create new and inventive ways to entice people to subscribe and stay.
Twitter is one of those companies seemingly under pressure and has responded by greatly assisting brands in their quest for social engagement. The micro-blogging site, which boasts over 300m active monthly users in 2015, is making the headlines for the fact that founding member Jack Dorsey (who has had a Friends-style Ross/Rachel relationship with Twitter for the past few years) has returned as permanent CEO. It’s a move that many attribute to Twitter’s slowing growth (and perhaps lack of ideas on what to do about it).
Twitter has since launched two major changes that will affect ways businesses can use the site. First was Brand Hub, an updated analytics tool offering more in-depth analysis and insights into reach and engagement, allowing marketing heads to hone in on which aspects of their campaigns are successful and the content people are responding to.
The second feature is Twitter polls, a simple idea of posing a question to your followers, and giving them two choices in which to respond. This is essentially a built-in gold mine for feedback on customer preferences and insights and something which can be expanded to inform other marketing efforts on the information gleaned through the polls.
For instance, a bakery could ask ‘Should we make Christmas brownies or cookies this year?’
The results would tell the bakery what their customers want them to do and allow for the brand to interact with its consumers. With around 6,000 tweets sent per second, the audience is there ready to respond. In an age of high consumer expectations, this is not a tool to be overlooked.
The other major player in this game is Facebook, which hasn’t rested on its laurels despite having the most active users by far. This year, Facebook announced a new Storefronts shopping feature which will allow companies to build a storefront page for customers to browse and buy products with relative ease, without the need to swap apps or pages.
Considering many people spend approximately 1/3 of their time online using social media, a figure which is expected to continue to rise, this is potentially a smart and lucrative move.
While the feature may not provide a sizeable return straight away, it is likely to gradually realise its potential as social media use grows and the convenient functionality becomes more prevalent in people’s lives.
As the expression goes, it seems that if you build it, they will eventually come.
Which, in the age of digital, is the maximum you can probably expect.