Digital & Social Media

Hanging on the Social Money Tree

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What Happened: Facebook is giving Google, the undeniable global leader in $16.7 billion mobile ad sales market, a run for its money—literally—as the social network is on track to triple its share of the pie in 2013, eMarketer reports. While Google controls more than half of the market, Facebook is creeping up looking to garner a 15 percent-plus share by yearend. No other network is even in double digits at this point.

But that’s only the beginning of social’s push for more engagement and to monetize the networks through advertising and e-commerce as those with shareholders (Facebook) try to live up to valuations and those seeking shareholders (Twitter) try to create value. Twitter, for example, just bought Trendrr, the social TV measurement and analytics startup, to help networks and publishers more effectively use tweets to promote their content and advertising. The network also hired Nathan Hubbard as the network’s first head of e-commerce, who is expected to add “T-commerce” as a new arrow in the network’s quiver. Though direct buying through platforms, including Facebook, has so far been slow to take off, the decision shows what we can expect to see coming across our screens in the near future.

What This Means for Brands: No doubt, social network attempts to attract users and extend their engagement boost the potential reach of brand advertising. E-commerce, in particular, enhances the opportunities for advertising because it is attracting buyers who want to see deals and get ideas for what they might purchase. But there is a danger. At what point (if any) will users get turned off? One of the original attractions of social networks was their promotional-free environment. That is particularly true for millennials who have moved from network to network to escape brands shouting at them. Consumers are looking for conversations, a point made by Brandon Evans in a recent Fast Company post. “We have reached a tipping point where a penalty will be paid by those companies who simply view social as a mass communication channel for blasting out messages to a mass audience,” Evans writes. So the key message for brands: Learn how to converse, not advertise.

Contributing to TRENDING this week are Lucy Arnold, Jenna Carter, Abby Ray and Torrey Vaughan. Edited by Pat Wechsler.