Social media is growing exponentially and the opportunities it presents for advertising are growing with it. Facebook, Twitter and now Google’s +1 are all vying to become our number one destination for socialising and networking. Where does the barrier between intrusive and welcomed advertising lie? Add more business-audience targeted sites such as LinkedIn and one can immediately see the breadth of targeting available solely from the social networking sign up process.
One major benefit from a brand perspective is the increased number of chances to interact and build up a dialogue with consumers, and/or simply monitoring their public conversations about a new release etc. On the consumer side, the more honest someone is when completing their profile, the better ads they will potentially be served.
This week Twitter have announced their photo album feature, allowing users to upload and share with friends much like Facebook; predictably, along with Twitter’s personal messaging features, this is a step toward keeping people talking and sharing online.
In a similar vein, Facebook are planning the release of a new photo feature, which allows users to control who sees which photos akin to Google +1’s circles.
Let’s have a look at the main sites’ advertising models:
With their constantly changing algorithm, FB can now target you based on the content of your status updates as well as the demographic information entered on sign-up. They run both IO and self-serve advertising models, linking in with social advocacy through their ‘like’ button, ‘like’ ads and the newer sponsored stories ads.
As yet, there is no specific model due to Google’s reliance on their existing CPC and CPM models. Thus +1 becomes another placement on the Google Display Network, offering a plenitude of chances to gain visibility across a large, share-friendly audience in a relatively passive and non-seeking state.
Twitter recently launched their sponsored tweets/ sponsored account paid model, which was first used by MEC for T-Mobile’s royal wedding coverage in April of this year. In its infancy, this model runs on an IO system and currently offers a limited reporting suite.
Here we have a self-serve model similar to that of Facebook, where advertisers can target users based on the information they enter when signing up. In the recruitment world, this offers an amazing opportunity as the most regular users will have input their work title, status etc., allowing very specific targeting for suit clients to roles. Similar to GDN?
As yet, the main issues posed by the nature of social networking are two-fold. Namely that users are not using the platform to receive advertising and can feel, as a result, that ads are intrusive; secondly the targeting options rely largely on self-regulation and constant use, i.e. a friend could update FB to say they are married or are a sibling to their best friend, and then there are those of us who have signed up to a site and never used our profile, representing missed opportunities.
So beyond advertising to the regular users, a big chunk of the effort on the media-owners’ part is to try and encourage regular use. How they do this is reliant on a number of factors we could define as push and pull; knowing a friend has their birthday party on FB encourages me to visit for information, while press releases pushing new features are designed to push users to increase frequency of visits.
Advertising and Revenues:
As yet the social networks seem to be growing at a steady rate, suggesting that they will be able to command increasing advertising spend as more users log on and interact – some questions for the future are:
- To what extent will social media sites grow like terrestrial TV in the UK – starting at 2, growing to 5, then exploding out to a heavily fragmented audience?
- And lastly, what is the shelf-life for a social media website? What ever happened to MySpace?!
To be continued…