The social media revolution is having an increasingly comprehensive impact on the business world. The latest segment to be affected is brand websites themselves. This transition can be attributed to a number of factors, including the increasingly complexity and feature-rich content available for websites, which allows for greater interactivity anduser engagement on websites. However, perhaps the most compelling reason to turn branded websites into social media hubs is the rapidly changing valuations of social media followers, i.e. the bottom line value of Facebook likes, Twitter retweets and followers, etc.
For example, in recent years a great deal of marketing capital was invested in acquiring Facebook fans. However, Facebook has recently changed their policy regarding how those fans will find and consume content on the Facebook platform. Specifically, fans will no longer see most branded posts unless the brand pays to advertise directly to those fans. A recent article by TechCrunch explained the reasoning behind this decision, which effectively boils down to the fact that Facebook is trying to respond to user complaints about company pages “spamming” their News Feed.
Regardless of the measures Facebook and other social media platforms take, the bottom line is that social hubs, whether they are on traditional social media platforms or not, are an essential part of any modern marketing strategy. This explains why companies are increasingly using branded websites as a social hub, and effectively bypassing many of the restrictions that Facebook and others are beginning to place on their marketing efforts.
Social network adoption
Social networking has been adopted by huge swathes of humanity at an almost unprecedented rate. According to reports, social networking users grew to 208 million users last year, which represents a 30% increase from 2012. By 2018, it is estimated that there will be around 535 million social media users. In addition, more than 70% of the adult US population already uses at least one form of social media, and more than 1.8 billion photos are uploaded or shared every single day.
Explosion of Rich Media Content
The type and variety of content that is shared is advancing almost every day, and the rise of User-Generated Content (UGC) is largely driving this trend. One example of this is Mountain Hardwear’s #FindingWinter campaign, in which an incredible collection of photos and videos led to as much as 223% greater click-through rates than text alone.
More engaging experiences
UGC has also given a voice to consumers and has helped create a sense of personal investment in brands. As user values and opinions are expressed and promoted, communities of like-minded individuals connect to each other through the brand. These engaging experiences have proven effective, with a 28% increase in brand engagement with users are exposed to both professional and user-generated content.
Ultimately, the ability to share increasingly rich data on branded websites, in conjunction with a significantly greater amount of control over what users experience when compared to social media platforms, means that branded websites will likely increasingly become a social hub for users who wish to follow particular brands.