If they haven’t ended already, the days of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram being social networking sites focused entirely on the individual user are long gone. Small and large businesses have been actively using these social media platforms for years, and you’re just as likely to see an advertisement from a company you’ve liked showing up on your Facebook feed as you are seeing a friend’s status update.
Companies have definitely embraced the use of social media platforms in order to propel their brands, and why wouldn’t they? There are over 1 billion users on Facebook, and 250 million more on Twitter. Social networks are a great way to reach a large audience.
So much so, that Kevin Bobowski, Head of Marketing for Offerpop suggests that it’s time for companies to start building their own social networking sites.
While I agree with Bobowski that businesses are now in an era where consumers hold more power than ever, I’m not convinced this is a reason that companies should, or ever will, widely adopt their own social sites.
First, for companies to create, implement, and manage a branded networking site, they’re going to have to shell out a lot of cheddar. It’s probably not in the best interest for a company to expend an immense amount of resources for something that could easily fail. Sure, there have been instances where companies have created successful online communities, like Nike and Starbucks, but those are enormous companies with lots of resources and a dedicated cohort of consumers. The risk for most businesses is simply not worth the reward.
In addition to the cost, time, and effort it would take most companies to create their own social site, the main reason I’m skeptical of this idea is that the original purpose of social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram wasn’t to discover what your favorite brands were pushing. It was to follow what your friends were up to and maintain a connection with them, especially if you’re like me and have all of your friends from childhood and college scattered throughout the country.
That original purpose isn’t going to change. Not anytime soon at least. Social media users aren’t suddenly going to wake up one morning and decide that the only reason they want to check out their Facebook is to see what new Coke or Skittles commercial is making the rounds on their feed. We log in to Facebook to post and like statuses and browse pictures of people we know. And while an application like Twitter has shifted from a simple microblogging platform to a massive provider of instant news, while allowing you to follow and connect with your favorite celebrities and companies, it’s still heavily used to maintain a dialogue between you and the people you know. It’s no reason why Twitter has been described as the “SMS of the Internet.”
While Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest of the popular social networking sites currently with a stronghold on the market won’t necessarily be the end-all be-all when it comes to social networking, in order for companies to successfully implement their own social sites, their going to have to shell out a lot of capital and provide a huge, unique incentive to consumers in an already saturated marketplace.
Written by Luke Severn
Luke is a marketing coordinator at Kaufer DMC. He loves writing, music, movies, the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers.