The social media landscape is constantly changing and if you’re looking to market yourself across a variety of platforms (who isn’t?), you have to be aware of the particular forces affecting each of them. Who, for instance, would’ve guessed that one of Facebook’s biggest issues this year would be a spate of cloning attacks? Or that the highly targeted ad system could ultimately aid in the rising user numbers being experienced by public social networks such as Twitter and Pinterest?
We’ve therefore outlined some of the major trends that anyone looking to market themselves over social media should be aware of and how they can make the most of the opportunities currently available to them.
Social media fraud and Facebook cloning
Social media and in particular Facebook profiles have been cloned extensively over the past few months. It takes about an hour to clone a Facebook profile, with the fraudster literally copying and pasting from your real Facebook profile.
Once the profile is cloned, they start sending friend requests and sometimes they report your real Facebook profile as a fake profile and it gets blocked, so all your friends think that the person they are friends with is real one, but it is the cloned one. And once they have access to your friend’s profiles, they can do the same to them.
This is a lot of work so what do they get in return? They simply send sincere requests for financial help and friends respond with donations into their accounts. They often post updates that make it look as though the cloned person is travelling, and then a few days later they send a mail to all the friends that says you are in a bit of a pickle and need some cash.
This is highlighting the fact that people often just accept friend requests without being actual friends with an individual. Having massive friends lists has resulted in people having to follow updates from others that they don’t really care about and this is resulting in people checking their Facebook profiles less and less due to all the noise in their news feeds.
Irritating ads in news feeds
Ads are irritating no matter where they are placed. If you state that you are interested in travelling and like water sports, it may be relevant to have ads for tropical island holidays on your profile, but they are not welcome.
These ads and all the other noise is another factor that could push people away from social media.
Next time you see an ad in your news feed, head over to that brand’s page for a laugh. People have become so angry with being interrupted that they write angry and hilarious comments on these brands’ profiles.
People moving to public social networks
Interestingly, these privacy concerns seem to be driving people to social networks such as Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr because the information they place on these profiles is publicly available (so cannot be used against them) and they can start fresh and build up new friends lists of people they actually care about.
As people move to these public social networks, services such as TrueTwit are popping up that are helping protect people from brands that want to use these networks to spam people with unwanted messages.
Brands are using social media for more than just engagement
It is extremely useful as a marketer to be able to engage with your market — that way you can pick up any issues with your product or service and also use the input to uncover new innovative ideas. Before social media, an annual focus group would be held with customers and the same type of information would be extracted.
Up to now brands have primarily used social media to engage their markets and agencies have made a lot of money by posting arbitrary articles and pictures. But social media can be used for more than just engagement, after all, what company can afford the retainer of an agency just for engagement – where is the ROI?
Internationally, brands are producing strategic content and using social media as a customer acquisition channel. The fact that you can engage with your audience and collect market research has become secondary to the fact that you can actually make money from social media.
Automating lead generation efforts in social media
Because people are turning to public forms of social media when they ask their networks for opinions on things they want to buy, brands that are astutely listening can respond as they can now see these opportunities.
For success in lead generation via social media, it is key to respond appropriately and not just be a sales stalker. A person asking “I’m off to buy a fridge any suggestions?” would not respond well to a brand replying back with “buy ours”. Instead brands should reply with content, for example “@person check out our free guide to eco-friendly kitchen appliances here”.