Social Media delivers false expectations, right? Most people would agree on this. The promise of a truly connected multi-way-channel fell short. But what did people expect? What do they expect now? what is the good, the bad, and the terrible of the ‘social revolution’?
The ‘social’ side of social media is very much reduced to a ‘modern rolodex’, a list of contacts that can be accessed via computer or mobile. But then there is THE NEWSFEED. The feeds in most social media platforms are the essence of what is ‘social’ about them. One way or another all the features are there to affect the feed. Groups are just different feeds. Photo Albums are there to be shared in the feed. “Liking”, and “sharing” will enhance and promote a piece of content. But how social is it? how social is social media after all?
BEFORE we look into our RESEARCH and INFOGRAPHIC shared below – where we question people over these topics – let us think together over some points:
Is Social Media less Social because of MONEY?
Sacrifices must be made for survival. Of companies, that is. While the non-technical end user does not see it, and the non-business-savvy end user does not care, companies need to adapt their products into a model that will sustain growth.
With the obvious out of the way, do the compromises of social media networks affect the ‘social’ features in the product?
The short answer is YES. The less short answer is DEPENDS ON THE NETWORK. which opens into a much more detailed view. In essence, however, social networks face the challenge of scaling vs. usability. And only on top of that comes the challenge of monetizing. As more users connect into the network and connect with each other, the feed becomes ever more busy and so does everything else. Then, as the networks have to filter the ORGANIC content anyway, they still add PROMOTED content into the feed, making it all seem like ‘just another money scam’. To the eyes of the end user, that is.
THE QUESTION here is: WHO PAYS FOR THIS? Advertisers in social media are feeding the “anti-social” propaganda structure. Transforming social media into a “massive one-way channel”. Just like any other channel, the media industry attempts to standardize everything. And yes, this is a BAD THING. The essence of the problem is the digital media industry is ADDICTED TO QUANTITY and NOT QUALITY. Because it is easier, of course. But also because it was inherited from the old models. ‘IMPRESSIONS’ should never be a metric in Social Media. The media industry transformed something that could be “very cool”, into something “much less cool” but easier to work with. Which for them is fine. Because who cares, right? WRONG. Discussing “conversion rates” in social media while having “display advertising” metrics is JUST WRONG. That is not what social was built for, but it is a problematic cycle of monetization corrupting things. Corrupting all things.
While this is a topic for another article, many different ways of monetizing could be used in social media.
2. ADVERTISERS IN SOCIAL ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING IT ANTI-SOCIAL?
Short answer: YES. But NOT FOR THE OBVIOUS REASONS. Not because they are responsible for investing their money. The ways money flow into social networks are responsibility of the Social Networks themselves. The networks are the ones who create these “advertising products”.
Promoting content that will drive an interaction by the viewer and then not responding to this interaction is DISRESPECTFUL. In social media, it is.
Can you imagine doing that to your friends, or in a party? starting a conversation and then ignoring the people responding? It is more than rude, IT IS UGLY.
The lack of responsiveness from brands, added to the money they invest into the social networks, creates an environment that is bad for making social media more social. The end user is told it is normal. Then he believes it. Then he doesn’t look for a change. Social networks make their money. Users have their “rolodex”. Nothing changes. Nothing gets better.
It is true social networks every now and then look into features that improve the ‘social’ aspect of the service. But while the injection of money is being made by those being “anti-social”, the push & pull will not help evolution.
3. RESPONSE RATE IN SOCIAL MEDIA – GRAPHS
To understand this a little better, I pulled some graphs out of quintly. I added a few automobile brands into my group of pages and exported their responsiveness charts – check them out:
THE TALL “TOWERS” ON THE RIGHT ARE NOT RESPONDED QUESTIONS
Facebook: BRANDS with ZERO everywhere mean they have a CLOSED WALL.
In these times we live in, one great thing we have is the access to DATA. It is fast and simple to dive into questions and find answers. The only thing keeping us from doing so is ‘our busy schedule’. For the data-brave, however, the world is revealed in a more ‘enlightening’ way..
4. BUT WHAT DO PEOPLE EXPECT FROM SOCIAL MEDIA?
In the following RESEARCH and INFOGRAPHIC. I went beyond the analysis made in quintly. I gave voice to my contacts, asking what do they expect of social media these days? Do expectations differ from brands to other people? have they experienced a problem-solving process within social media (such as customer support)? how ‘social’ do they think social media is? what would they like to see more of? and what could they do without?
I personally had a case with PAYPAL in Twitter. Where I complained about a problem and they got back to me. It turned out that the Social Media Team at PayPal had no connection into the customer support system. So they kept messaging me in Twitter to “understand my problem” but never did anything about it. I judged that to be EVEN WORSE than if they had never showed up. It was a waste of time to speak with them via Twitter. I felt like a fool, and felt they were trying to trick me into thinking I was receiving some support. After this issue I started to recommend against the use of PayPal, and to this day I tell people to keep away.
RESEARCH AND INFOGRAPHIC – EXPECTATIONS IN SOCIAL MEDIA:
5. Final Thoughts:
Expectations in relation to social are very tied to responsiveness. Creativity in content is not an issue, but the community spirit, customer support and response are not there. Being a subjective term, community spirit can mean anything from being responsive to offering something exclusive. It would be an interesting topic for a next article to understand details on what means ‘community spirit’. The question here had its purpose, though.
The overall feeling on “do brands make social less social?” was very interesting. I am sure it made people think while answering, and the majority hit the “YES”. This means, at a glance, that people are feeling brands did not understand what it means to be social in social media. It also means that they believe brands are not helping social media to remain ‘social’. Again, this gives us matter for another article and research, but as an initial finding it is quite on the interesting side.
QUESTIONS THAT REMAIN TO BE ANSWERED: How can brands be more social? how can the commercial side of social media networks not affect the social aspect? what do people believe a community in social media should be like? what should social media offer into becoming even more social?
Social Media can be a great asset for businesses, it just needs to be truly understood to begin with.