How many of you are familiar with Facebook? OK, silly question. After all, it’s the biggest social media site. Let’s try again.
How many of you are familiar with Wanelo, Vine, Snapchat, Kik, or 4chan? If you have a teen in the house, you might be, since these are, according to a Piper Jaffray study, the social sites in which teen interest is rapidly growing. Final question: how many of you are familiar with, and used to frequent, Friendster, MySpace, or Second Life? Emphasis on the “used to” since they’re pretty much gone.
If I was a Facebook shareholder (which I’m not), I’d be very concerned. Not just about a couple of things I’m going to mention but also about management’s plans to grow revenues. Let me explain.
First, the research. According to Tech Crunch’s reporting of the aforementioned study:
Interest in Facebook seems to be declining heavily among teens. Though teens still dub Facebook their most important social network, Piper Jaffray reports that the numbers are down regarding how many teens see Facebook as the most important social media website. Over the past year, the number of teens who deem Facebook as the most important social media site has dropped from more than 30 percent to just over 20 percent.
I realize teens are fickle, but they’re also trendsetters in a lot of ways. They’re also a notoriously difficult group to reach via ads, and the social media chatter about brands—positive or negative—is a big factor in their purchasing decisions. Which leads to my second concern.
AdAge reported on Facebook’s plans to insert video ads in users’ news feeds:
While the format of the units isn’t totally nailed down, it’s widely assumed that they’ll be autoplay and presented in a video player that expands beyond the main news-feed real estate to cover the right- and left-hand rails of users’ screens on the desktop version of Facebook.
It won’t matter if the user or any of his or her friends have engaged with the brand on Facebook. Users will at most see three ads a day. Now I will shut almost any site that autoplays video, especially if it’s advertising. Let’s think about how strong the user backlash is going to be if the autoplay report is accurate, and will that backlash spill over to affect the sponsors as well as Facebook? It just might.
One doesn’t have to look too far into the future to see the beginnings of a ghost town in the making. If a town’s young citizens are moving away for greener pastures, can businesses and their parents be too far behind? What do you think?
One of the best things about digital media is that it’s an open platform.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Anyone can plug in and begin producing content or commenting on content that others have posted. Often those comments can be an interesting or insightful as the original article. They can also serve to provide balance when a “news” piece strays too far from the facts. I like reading comments most of the time and I appreciate those of you who take the time to add your thinking to mine here on the screed.
Unfortunately, there are those who use the ability to piggyback on the audiences good content attracts for other purposes. Here alone, spammers post dozens of fake comments with links back to their crap every day (WordPress has a built-in spam block that works exceptionally well). Elsewhere, trolls try to take over conversations, so the comments become a soapbox for rants against one party or politician or another no matter what the subject matter of the original story. It’s not just blog or news sites that suffer this – think about your own friends on Facebook or Twitter – seen any flame wars?
There are softwares that do moderation but they lack nuance and Im’ not sure they can fact-check a politely written bit of utter nonsense. Research has shown that an environment filled with negative comments can influence readers’ perceptions of the underlying subject matter negatively even when the piece is very neutral. What does one do? It’s not an easy answer. When we grappled with this issue many years ago as commenting became common, the solution my team went with involved, committed community members on a sort of neighborhood watch. We enabled certain folks who made insightful comments to alert us to issues and eventually even allowed some of them to block and edit to keep a safe, sane environment.
I think that’s about all we can do and still remain transparent while fostering conversation. People will have issues with your product or service and sometimes they’ll be very loud about their displeasure if it’s unwarranted. There’s not much one can do when that negativity is expressed via social shares that aren’t on your page but for the places under your control, encouraging polite, factual discourse can be a boost to readership as well as to your credibility and authenticity. That’s what I try to do here and what I try to get my clients to do as well. What do you do? Please comment (gulp!).
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Filed under Consulting, digital media, Thinking Aloud
Tagged as Comments, digital media, Flaming, Online Communities, social media, Wordpress