This summer has brought several changes to social media. Twitter added photos to homepages, Facebook added several new features including video chat, and Google introduced a new social network, Google+.
As marketers, these changes have kept us on our toes all summer. Each social media platform has potential uses for marketers. The key is in determining where each platform fits into your audience’s life and how you can best use each network to interact with them.
For a while, we thought we had it figured out; We thought that people generally used Facebook to interact with their strong-tie relations – people they have met and interacted with offline – and twitter to interact with weak-tie relations – people they don’t necessarily know offline but with whom they share common interests.
Google introduces new social network, Google+
But then Google+ came along, and suddenly, we had to figure out where that fit. It felt much like Facebook with a similar profile layout and some common features. However, its public, nonreciprocal “follow” option resembled twitter. It also introduced several unique features, most notably “circles” which gave users the ability to categorize their followers and selectively share posts.
The fate of Google+ is yet to be determined. Several major influencers have abandoned other social networks in favor of Google+ while others have condemned it as useless overkill or another example of Google trying to take over the world.
Facebook adds subscribe option
And as if that weren’t enough for social media users to handle, Facebook decided to throw us another curveball by introducing the new “subscribe” option. If you’re unfamiliar with this feature, Katherine wrote a handy guide to the Facebook subscribe here. Essentially, it allows friends to limit which types of updates they see from certain friends and non-friends to follow public updates from those who activate the subscribe feature.
So what does this mean for Facebook? Will it change how people use the social network? As Katherine pointed out, it could be very useful for people who want a more highly customized news feed. However, it could also change how people interact.
The good news for brands
The new ability to subscribe to feeds of non-friends could change the way users view Facebook. They may no longer see it as simply a means of communicating with strong-tie relationships and begin to see it more as a way of following interests.
So what does the Facebook subscribe button mean for brands? Well, traditionally, brands have tried to respect that Facebook users primarily use it to interact with strong-tie relationships. However, with public subscriptions, users may begin to view it more as a way to follow topics that interest them.
This is great news for brands! If users take to subscriptions, brands will no longer be intruding on what users view as a strong-ties network. The subscription option has the potential to strengthen Facebook marketing and build stronger, more active follower bases.
Of course, we’ll have to see how Facebook users make use of this function. What do you think the effect of Facebook Subscriptions will be?