Prognosticators abound when it comes to what will happen with social media over the next few years. Some users believe the market cannot sustain more than a handful of social media networks and therefore only the best will survive. But what constitutes the best practices for a social media company?
I have some thoughts, so why not lay them on the table.
First, if any social media network is to flourish it has to be easy for the majority of people to use. That means no matter how many features they cram into their system, all those features most be intuitive. Nothing too complicated, no hidden buttons to push or complicated systems to navigate (Facebook, this means you!). The simplest real-world example of this is the way newspapers provide information written in a way which allows even a second-grader to make their way through a story. You don’t need a college education to read a newspaper, just the simplest grasp of the English language will do. That method of communication made newspapers the dominant form of communication for more than a century. Social media networks would be wise to emulate this idea of making themselves accessible to the widest possible audience.
Second, the most successful social media systems will be those who have a very specific revenue stream. Let’s face it, social media is a business and every business needs to make money, more than it spends, if it wants to survive. How they integrate that revenue stream into their system (Twitter, I’m talking to you) will likely have a big impact on users so it needs to be built-in, there from the get-go, to be most effective and least disruptive. Trying to monetize a social media network after people sign-up is going to create at least some dissatisfaction, which could possibly result in a decline of users overall. That means the revenue system itself might not be as effective as they hoped.
Third, the most successful social media networks will be those who are most flexible, addressing the ever-changing Internet environment and addressing users concerns as they (will inevitably) arise. You cannot seriously expect to remain unchanged if you operate an Internet-based business. Your environment is changing, your users are changing and your services are going to change too. If you can get a handle on this, make the changes seamless, less disruptive and better for your users, you will earn a good reputation with your users who will be more apt to encourage their friends and family to meet them there. If you try to stay static, you will die like the Dodo Bird…
I began using social media, Facebook, LinkedIn (LNKD) and YouTube, marketing about 2 years ago and they still amaze me today. There will no doubt be a few major players who survive over the next 5-10 years in the enormous social media world. The question from an investment and business angle, is who to invest in and who will return to its shareholders the most over the next 5-10 years. I believe that Google (GOOG), Facebook and LinkedIn may all win and win big; I will explain why and what I believe investors should be doing.
What I Like & Hate About Facebook Business Marketing
I am like millions of Americans who play what I call “The Facebook Game”. We create personal profiles and upload pictures of our family, dog and cat and Christmas pics etc… However, we are really there to take your money! I don’t mean that literally, I mean we just want to use the incredible power of Facebook to get at more customers to buy our products and services and refer their friends and family. The problem is that Facebook wants to control us and make us not post too often about business and not try too hard to build are friends too fast. These are signs that we are desperate and not focused on telling people what we had for lunch, how we are stuck in traffic or we just popped a pimple. I know exciting stuff that we all really care about. The truth is that virtually everyone I meet is just as tired of playing the Facebook Game but we all admit we deal with it so we can post that update for our business and disguise it as a post about something else. You know what I mean. “Hi everyone! My cat just got stuck in the tree here is a pic of me and the cat standing next to my work truck with me still in my uniform with a close-up of my nametag”!
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