Social Media Turning Into Storefronts

If you take a look at how social media sites have evolved in the past few years, you’re going to see a pattern: they’ve all become places for companies to place their ads and initiate marketing efforts. It’s a billion dollar industry. After all, you always have to take your business to where the people are, and people are spending a great deal of time on social media. So what’s the next step? Bringing your marketplace directly into social media, of course. You can already set up a storefront on Facebook, but the interface is clunky and limited in its appearance; it’s just not an appealing place to shop for anything other than apps. Pinterest, with its cleaner design and focus on images, seems like the perfect place to put a “buy it now” button, and that’s exactly what they’re going to do.

In a recent update, Pinterest announced that it will be making it easier for people on iOS and Android (later) devices to link their Pinterest App to their credit card information. This “Buy Button” has a similar setup to an iTunes account, which allows you to buy music and videos directly. Business who have “Rich Pins” set up will then have the option of allowing customers to purchase items through the Pinterest App. As far as social media marketing goes, making it easier for people to instantly buy items of interest is a brilliant idea. It plays on the customer’s impulses; you can expect low-cost items to sell at greater volumes. If there’s anything I can compare it to, it would be the Micro-transaction* function from the gaming industry. The only difference is you get something tangible in return for your money.

*Micro-transactions are low-cost purchases in many free-to-play games that grant you access to limited items, extra play time in cases where the number of actions you take are limited per increment of time. These range from 99 cents to hundreds of dollars depending on the popularity of the game. These games are also called “Freemium” games. Personally, I despise this sort of practice and will not endorse any company or developer who employ this unethical tactic.

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Pinterest: Motion-Based Pins

I don’t know about you, but I have a general dislike of “autoplay” features on sites whenever they feature a video. They’re indiscreet, and if you don’t have headphones plugged in, there’s a good chance you’ll end up disrupting others around you or embarrass yourself due to out-of-context audio clips. Facebook counteracted this bit by muting videos until you tap or click on them. When I saw what Pinterest was up to, I felt pretty excited: motion-based promited pins for businesses.

Let’s face it, video isn’t really Pinterest’s usual flavor, even if they are a powerful marketing tool. Their motion-based pins, however, makes use of a GIF-like format – moving images linked to videos, but they only “play” while the user scrolls. Not only is this eye-catching, getting people to scroll up again for a second look will make it more likely for users to see related pins. Combined with videos linked along with the motion-based pins can prove to be an excellent way to drive traffic to your site. You continue to impress me, Pinterest. I can’t wait to see where else you’ll go!

Paid Advertising on Social Networks: The New Reality

People new to the game of Facebook might get the impression that there’s no way to break into the social media scene due to the abysmal organic reach percentage. As a result, new businesses might be completely turned off, especially when they’re trying to get a handle on their finances and simply cannot afford to invest in paid advertising on the world’s largest social network. It hasn’t always been this way. Many companies who have been with Facebook from the creation of the Facebook Page grew their following without having to pay a single dime. This is because Facebook used to be free in every sense of the word: no advertising, no promoted posts, and certainly no paid apps! But as the network became more popular, more and more companies began using Facebook as one of the primary methods of reaching people directly, which led to all the paid marketing options. As these options rolled out, everyone began experiencing a huge decrease in organic reach, some dropping as low as 2.1%. Abysmal seems like an understatement with numbers like that!

Facebook isn’t the only one to make paid advertising and promoted posts their only options for increasing your reach. Twitter, renown for its hashtag system, also offers promoted tweets and ad options with a built-in analytics system. Pinterest rolled out their Promoted Pins, though only for select companies at the moment. Unlike Facebook, the latter two do not punish their users by reducing their organic reach. Their functions remain the same, while the paid options are an add-on. Of course, Facebook denies purposely reducing organic reach for monetary gains, stating that the new system by which the site ranks content was implemented to reduce spam. Yes, it does reduce spam, but no, it doesn’t prevent spam by any measure. The only thing it seems to do consistently well is stop non-paying Facebook Pages from reaching their customer base. One positive thing it does is punish those who try to cheat the game by buying fake Likes. The more fake Likes you have, the worse your organic reach will be. Not that it isn’t insanely bad already. It’s just a cherry on top.

So what can we do? Paid options are a part of the game now. New users and small companies will need to work extra hard to create quality content relevant to their potential followers in order to entice them to share. But not on Facebook. They frown on external links.