Social Networking for DUMMIES.
SOCIAL NETWORKS — Everyone knows what they are. For those who still had doubts, David Fincher’s movie made everything clear. Hopefully.
Just to be sure we’re on the same track, I will write it down : this post is about social media and the use of social networks in France.
So, let’s discuss figures first :
- Today, 77 % of web users acknowledge to be active on at least 1 social network. On average, they focus on two. (Ref : Ifop study, January 2010)
- They approximately spend 3 hours and a half per month on Facebook. (Ref : Performics study, June 2010)
- Only 8 % of French users are active on Twitter. (idem)
The continually increasing numbers basically show the potential market within social media, which indeed seems profitable.
There’s one problem, though. Of course, one could naively expect people who use social networks to :
- know every functionality.
- be aware of all the privacy issues.
- understand the consequences of the applications they use.
As users are the target and the core of social media, they’re the very reason why this domain exists, so they should know better than anyone how it works, right ?
People just don’t know how to efficiently network on the Internet.
I’m not saying there’s only one correct way to use Facebook. I’m saying one just can’t go and put everything in it. Of course, social networks are about social interaction. The whole point is to share stuff. But people just share everything and thus the information stream becomes plain chaos.
Ever wonder how much you learn from your news feed ? Undoubtedly not as much as you wish.
My point is : as far as social media is concerned, the situation is quite worrying in France. People can’t live without social networks anymore, yet they can’t decide how they want to use them. No wonder Twitter can’t seem to get more popular.
On the other hand, French brands have seen this need for social interaction as an opportunity, just as everyone else. In 2010, social media was a top priority for 20 % of the announcers; 34 % of active users were willing to purchase products via Internet, blablabla.
But what does this mean ? Brands have a lot to deal with :
- How do you manage an heterogeneous community that hasn’t yet fully adapted to social media ?
- What sort of products are consumers actually willing to buy through social media ?
- Is the ROI for social-media-oriented websites and apps worth the spending ? In what sectors ?
I’ve been trying to keep a realistic vision of this, but it is pretty clear to me that social networks won’t be a mature media in France anytime soon. Although it’s been growing for a few years, it may be profitable to a few brands —luxury brands, say hi— but for most, it is still far from reliable. Businesses should keep in mind that being followed/liked is not enough.
The focus of a business should be on results, not activity.
Achievement in social media is not about how many people know you, but how many people are influential enough to concretely play a role in your business strategy. Besides, influencers that matter aren’t necessarily those who’re most followed, they’re those who have lifetime value.
So, contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe fashion brands are going to sell designer bags through a Facebook app anytime soon.
See also :