Recently, Ofcom reported that social media usage has begun to dip in the UK, from 65 per cent of the UK’s population accessing social networks weekly in September 2013 to 56 per cent in October 2014, a trend mirrored by several other countries including the U.S. and Japan.
While social media isn’t going away any time soon, it is something to consider for all the companies and organisations that have come to rely on it as a way to advertise, release information and communicate with followers all in one place. The TechCrunch article linked above states that one reason may be the rise of instant messenger apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, which allow for more privacy and an interface uncluttered by the promoted ads and posted Facebook/Twitter feel you ought to be interested in.
It’s unclear where social media for companies fits into this. Certainly there is space for traditional advertising – banners etc. on these apps, although the founder of WhatsApp has publicly stated that there will not be adverts on the service, but utilising it as a service for selling a product, event, etc. will require a whole new way of thinking. Some companies have already achieved this in clever ways. Last year Absolut Vodka created a campaign for the launch party of a new drink line where WhatsApp users had to message the party’s ‘bouncer’ (actually the company’s community manager) and creatively convince him that they were worth letting in. Some users in the comments of that linked article also pointed to a campaign run by Vodafone in India where users could enter a competition using WhatsApp, although to an extent it sounds just like texting in – it doesn’t really use a networking capacities of the service at all.
Just after I started writing this post, I stopped to do a bit of research on whether advertising on SnapChat (introduced in October) is working out well and how companies and organisations might be using it creatively. The sad consensus seems to be that many companies are trying, but few are succeeding, solely because they haven’t yet found a method that works with the platform and it’s users.