Social media is beginning to make its next evolution by shifting from platforms like Facebook to social enabled websites. There are many challenges faced when trying to do this, but this article will focus on the 4 main reasons why this shift is happening.
1. You Don’t Own Facebook
If your revenue stream is connected to their platform or your community on that platform and they change something, you could miss your profit goals. If you’ve invested tons of money and resources into that community and then they change something so that you’re not able to tap into it like you once did, that investment won’t pay off as well.
This is one reason why some companies are building Facebook’s social functionality on their own website.
2. Strict Regulations
A client came to my team at the agency I was at and needed to develop and roll out an entire social media presence and campaign, but without using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or LinkedIn. Despite common belief, social doesn’t have to take place on one of these mainstream platforms anymore.
This particular client was a large company in the medical industry. This industry is highly regulated and they considered building their own social network a form of risk management. They not only wanted specific functionality that Facebook couldn’t provide, they believed it would be a much better investment in the long run to invest in something that could completely comply with those regulations without having to jump through Facebook’s hoops.
3. Niche Interests
Right now, social interactions take place in specific destinations. For example, if I want to connect with my friends about something, I’ll go to the destination called Facebook to do that.
However, I might go to another destination to interact with people with a specific, niche interest that I also have. For example if I was a committed member of the extreme sports photography/videography community (which I definitely would love to be), I might go to a social platform built on Go Pro’s website. Go Pro makes very small, lightweight, and most importantly, indestructible cameras that can easily attach to your body while you’re doing extreme sports. So if you like jumping out of a plane, kayaking off a water fall, surfing through a massive wave, or snowboarding down an alpine mountain and want to film it, then this camera will let you do that. Check out this incredible video filmed with one of their cameras.
This community is passionate about their sports and having a platform that is made to share this specific type of photos and video with other people doing the exact same things as them would be valuable. They could compare notes about where they got their shots from, how they mounted them, what their next adventure will be and perhaps even connect and go together on it.
You can do this all on Facebook, but the user experience won’t be as good or customized to this community’s specific needs because you have to use their template and play by their rules.
4. Brand Content Vs. User Content
Often times, brands on Facebook have to do the vast majority of the initiation when it comes to building a community. For example, they will post something interesting and valuable and then their community will respond to that. When the post is engaging, people may interact not only with the post, but with other people’s comments on that post as well.
The other option is to provide the platform for users to engage on and let the user content be the main draw for others to visit the site. No one goes to YouTube because YouTube makes great videos themselves. They’re the platform that allows users to share their own videos, which is what makes YouTube worth visiting.
Go Pro could and should put out their own content if they were to ever build their own social platform, but allowing users to share their content would be a critical value-add approach. This way, users can initiate community and connection with other users. The brand is there to facilitate and to contribute occasionally in a meaningful way.
I think that we’ll start to see lots of brands setting up these niche social sites.
What do you think of all of this? Do you think these new custom platforms will actually be valuable to people? Have you seen any yourself?
Listen to me speak on 7 Social Media Trends on November 27th in San Diego.