Social media spawning a new breed of money-making machines

Apr 6, 2014
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Social media spawning a new breed of money-making machines

It's very easy to forget that social media is not a charitable institution that wants you to connect to the world. The truth of the matter is that we humans love drama, and we thrive on gossip. The minute you score a new gig, you immediately share it on Facebook. Controversial news – let's spill it on Twitter! 'I'm the next best photographer with a new phone'; sure Instagram is there, and for the crafty-you – Pinterest is your best friend. Once you've been hooked to the platform, the monetization game begins.

Recently it came to light that Twitter would debut 15 types of new ad products along with improved ways to target users, over the next six months. On the surface this sounds very good for those who want to do effective advertising. However what does this mean to you as an end consumer and as a business? Almost all of us are in some ways connected to one or the other form of social media. While initially these platforms are free-to-use, their business plan kicks in at a later stage, only to bewilder the unsuspecting.

Essentially, there are two kinds of users that visit social media, the end consumers and businesses. Be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or others, almost every business, celebrity or organization that has a remote connection to the Internet, has a social media presence. Capitalizing on this, some platforms have created a unique situation, where the organic growth of the online business is now stumped, because they want to promote their own paid advertisements.

For the past month we have been seeing the organic outreach of Pages on Facebook take a sharp hit. What this means is that the organic posting on newsfeeds of fans of the Page has been changed due to "algorithm” tweaks. Your staple feeds from Pages that you enjoyed, have fallen off the grid and instead "Suggested Posts" and "Suggested Pages" have taken over. In short, if you want to grow a business using Facebook, then unlearn all earlier strategies and simply fork out the dollar. As an end user, you can either ignore the suggestion or pretend to be enamored by them.

Twitter's hope of winning over e-commerce companies and mobile-game developers, comes in the form of new products that they can leverage. One of these is a tweak that encourages the users to download apps. Another new product from them is the "Card" technology, which is an expandable tweet. Here the advertisers can integrate a button that is a call-to-action. For example, if the CTA is to download an app, then the user is taken to the iTunes page where the download commences and once it's wrapped up, the user is taken back to the Twitter page. This is a convenient feature, if the app is of interest.

Twitter Cards is presently restricted to seven predetermined formats, eventually marketers may get more creative freedom to design their own uses of Cards. While all of this is good for their business, the impact of advertising will always affect the end consumer. The good thing about Twitter is that it doesn't manipulate your newsfeed like Facebook does; at least you have some control over it. The latter has complete control over what shows up on your feeds, and although their intentions are for the best, it makes us wonder why does it had to single out Pages and curb its organic growth. Interestingly, Twitter ads generate significantly higher click rates than Facebook. This probably because Twitter's ads are more streamlined and unobtrusive, than Facebook's.

If we turn our attention towards Pinterest, then here too we see the same pattern. First hook business and consumers and then monetize. Promoted Pins is the way the company is going. The platform began their quest for dough last October and is capitalizing on the native advertising format. Who isn't! Akin to Facebook, the format for ads will be similar to the organic Pins and with Promoted Pins, advertisers can reach out to 70 million active users. The question now is, will Pinterest stay true to its original plans of being an open platform for sharing creative ideas or will it curb organic outreach for big money.

The bottom line is that all social media Platforms know that they are thriving because of the basic human need to share. To capitalize it, is the next ‘organic' step for their growth.


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