Social media is a beast that marketers have tried to tame — and new efforts show they might finally be figuring out how.
The moment social networks became a thing, the e-commerce world knew it had to react. There was so much new data to be tapped, so many new platforms and methods to leverage.
For obvious reasons, Facebook has been a tent pole of this evolution – and has often stood on shaky ground. The importance of realizing the potential here can’t be emphasized enough: while we’ve thoroughly analyzed how committed we are to social networking, a thorough understanding of how to monetize this has somewhat eluded brands. The process of figuring that out has been one of trial and error.
When we were introduced to the Open Graph earlier this year, we quickly realized what it meant for Facebook and what it meant for brands. And it’s now clear that this is entirely how Facebook plans to evolve its e-commerce platform — while sacrificing of the old model. The digital Facebook storefront is no longer an option.
A few years back when F-Commerce came along, brands like Levi’s,1-800-Flowers, and Gamestop were understandably excited. Unfortunately, there may have been a little too much blind faith involved in this first attempt.
“F-commerce failed because it was a virtual bridge to nowhere,” CEO and co-founder of Maximize Social Media Chris McLaughlin tells us. “Why nowhere? The fact is that users very rarely revisit a page after they click the Like button. It’s estimated that only 4 percent of users visit a Facebook page after they like it – instead they engage with the business through the popular newsfeed, where they can comment or click Like without leaving the newsfeed.”
So it was something of a wasted effort: creating a second digital storefront – one that rarely got any eyes. In recent weeks, they’ve been shutting down in handfuls. When asked about this, GameStop (one of the first to open its digital storefront) declined to comment. But the answer is clear: this method has been made entirely irrelevant.
It’s arguably going to mean more work for brands using Facebook. Creating the Facebook-facing online shopping locations was relatively easy, at least in comparison to creating a Timeline app (a process which is still entirely unclear). Hiring someone to develop a Facebook landing page and customizing it can be an endeavor, but it’s still not as involved as app development. Couple that with the expectations of becoming an app for Timeline, and you have some serious standards to meet. It’s just more work.
The silver lining for Twitter
Facebook may have made a big splash this week, but it’s not entirely overshadowing Twitter. The microblogging site recently unveiled its new monetization plans. The site has taken the wraps off its self-serve ad platform, which is partnering with Amex to get the service up and running. Now we don’t blame any skeptics out there: Twitter has infamously struggled to turn its incredibly popular site into something that makes money. Users have bristled at attempts and despite its incredible popularity, Twitter hasn’t quite been able to establish a business model.
Pinterest is nailing (pinning?) it
All the while, a newcomer is paving the way with disguised advertising. Yes, we’re talking about Pinterest. And it doesn’t even have to try to set brands and businesses on this path – it’s just naturally how the site functions.
It’s actually sort of hilarious. Here is Facebook – Facebook – holding a conference to diligently teach brands and businesses using its platform how to be more natural. Does anyone else see the irony here? Instructing marketers on how to make their content seem less-markety sounds like a backward concept. And of course we all know when we’re being advertised to on Twitter: given its fast-paced nature, fewer real-life connections, and limited text space, ads seem less out of place, less interruptive. They tend to look and sound like much of Twitter’s “natural” content.