While the British public still spends plenty of time with social media, users are becoming much more demanding of the services they have to offer.
Social media might well prove to be a valuable marketing tool for companies. Maybe. But if that is to happen, the online community will have to continue using these websites. A team from YouGov, a specialist in opinion surveys, has revealed that when it comes to social media, the enthusiasm of the British general public is waning somewhat. Two out of five Internet users in the UK admit that they are already getting bored with social media. According to Dan Brilot, media consulting director at YouGov, we are entering a phase where "social media services increasingly need to have an extra ‘raison d’être’ beyond merely being 'social' to make an impact in today’s crowded market."
Social media need a 'raison d'être'
To ensure their continued existence, social media should perhaps follow the example of websites such as Moneysavingexpert.com and Spotify. These sites, which were not originally focused on social interaction, have chosen to branch out and enable their users to create their own profiles and to interact. As a result, Moneysavingexpert.com, which started out as an expert consumer financial advice site, now has the same number of active users as Twitter. Meanwhile ten percent of all active users of Spotify, a digital music service providing access to millions of songs, say they spend more than fourteen hours a week on the site. So Facebook has some thinking to do, given that, by contrast, a quarter of its users state that they now use the networking site less than they did twelve months ago.
Social networks not yet providing huge brand benefits
The YouGov results show that social media are far more difficult to manage from a consumer angle than many marketing people had imagined. The researchers found that while social media can be a key tool in the brand marketer’s armoury, in particular to maximise commitment among those already engaged with the brand, they cannot yet be considered a truly mass media marketing tool. In fact 44% of the British online population say they would not be more likely to buy a product just because their friends have followed and/or liked it and 43% say they are unlikely to talk about a brand on a social media site. So when it comes to enticing shoppers, brand marketers and media owners need to be careful with new targeting models. More than 47% of UK social media users state that they do not like seeing advertising on network sites that is based on their profile activities - clear evidence that marketing on social media is far from simple.