Grabr boss Tony Pearce discusses the challenges facing brands in the social media space today

Two years ago Facebook began to throttle back the organic reach of brand page posts, compelling marketers to invest in paid ad campaigns in order to reach the audiences they had so carefully curated up until that point.

But look, that’s absolutely fine. Facebook has invested millions of dollars in building its social network and all the delicious consumer demographics it has collected – so it has every right to seek return on that investment.

And paid campaigns can be very successful – with Facebook’s ad revenue standing at $6.24bn in its latest quarterly earnings, that return on investment is rolling in nicely for them.

However, the bottom line is that established social networks (and I include the likes of Twitter) are making it difficult for companies to engage directly with their consumers – estimates show that Facebook posts reach just one per cent of a brand page’s audience organically.

More importantly, brands using third partysocial networks for their marketing also don’t have any control over the consumer data or insights associated with that activity.

In short, simply being a tenant on a mainstream social network will not work in the long term for brands. Brands need a new type of social community platform, with higher engagement and bespoke data sets.

"Social networks are making it hard
for brands to engage with their customers."

This got us thinking – if a brand could own and operate its own social network, what would be on its functionality wish list? For starters, you would want to focus on your most active fans, building those relationships with customised content, offers, advertising and rewards. But you’d also want real time analytics across demographics, ecommerce and search trends.

The goal, ultimately, would be to create a ‘user pathway’ that matches individual consumer behaviors with the brand’s goals, using a combination of tailored content, email notifications and community product recommendations.

Such an approach would drive sales revenues and customer insights in a whole new way.

We thought the idea was so good, we built it in the form of GamesGrabr. It’s essentially a niche social network in a specialist interest, secure environment.

We’ve since extended the concept with BookGrabr (in beta) and now we’re giving brands the opportunity to utilise the platform to launch their own ‘white label’ social and discovery networks. Discussions are underway to build niche social networks with world wide brands in beauty, travel, music and sports, but the list could be endless.

The macro trends show that social media is having a profound impact on the consumer and retail landscape – 63 per cent of millennials say they stay updated on brands via social networks, while 51 per cent say social opinions influence their purchasing decisions.

Isn’t it about time that brands, retailers and publishers started to take some of that social power back?

Social media by numbers

  • 63 per cent of millennials say they stay updated on brands via social networks
  • 51 per cent say social opinions influence their purchasing decisions
  • 46 per cent count on social media” when buying online (Leaderswest, 2014)
  • Ecommerce sales in 2015 estimated at $1.5tn (Criterio)
  • Internet advertising made up 35 per cent of the entire ad market in 2015, worth $15bn (Social Fresh)

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