BRANDED SOCIAL NETWORKS ARE THE NEXT FRONTIER (NOT CLOSED FACEBOOK GROUPS)
Switch your head back to 2007, the year that Facebook really started to explode onto the scene and everyone was making that frantic shift from MySpace. The draw card was the community feel. The feeling that you had a group of people – your friends initially, some family, and a smattering of old school friends and acquaintances – that you could share your thoughts and general life with.
Move forward 10+ years and we are now in a world of social networking where ads, clickbait, and fake news have taken over. Brands are finding it increasingly difficult to connect with their consumers without ‘paying to play’- taking away that personal connection that was once so strong.
But today, there has been a resurgence of brands and communities reclaiming that ownership and creating private groups. Interested people need to request to get through the social gates, but on the other side, they discover a group of like-minded individuals chatting about their same-interest – sharing tips, pictures, and advice.
Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, recently posed the question in Forbes “Are Facebook Groups The Future of Social Media (Or A Dead End)?” His article explores the hyper-growth of groups that Facebook is experiencing, and in particular, the emergence of closed-brand groups – from women-only travel communities to a 100,000+ strong Pelaton army.
Interestingly, here at Connectt, we identified this trend some time ago, initially with the student market, and created Campus Society – a social network community for those heading to and attending university. Since then, we have recognised that brands across the world are wanting to create more opportunities for these bespoke connections.
The branded social network community is just the base, however - when you add in features like managing your own user data, being able to serve up the right content to the right fans at the right time, you begin to build out a much more powerful social community tool. Then comes the social commerce, instant-feedback product loops, and an audience that actually enjoys visiting the group for the latest updates and conversations with their fellow fans.
The future of Groups is certainly the focus for Facebook as part of their attempts to resurrect their current brand challenges. But the real future is in branded social networking communities, where each brand has the control over their own social network and can create bespoke experiences for fans and users.