3 Reasons Why dotBrand Social Media Platforms Will Become Epic Fails!
Owners of dotBrands are being unleashed from the social media giants or are they? Enticing offers to develop and run individual social media platforms for their brands by tech companies who are claiming to be able to break the social strangle hold giants like Facebook have over their brands. The cost to develop these branded platforms is a substantial investment even for the biggest brands to swallow. While these bespoke platforms will also offer other alluring candy, the main ideology of the individual social media platform concept is fundamentally flawed. While a branded social media platform sounds very sophisticated and even cool, the reality is they will almost certainly become epic fails.
From a big fish in a big pond to the only fish in a small pond – Facebook has a billion users and it is the almost boundless diversity of these users that makes the social platform work. When you specialise your social media platform to just one main interest you are dramatically reducing one of the things that makes social media work, people and lots of them. Sure there will be like-minded people but there won’t be the critical numbers to justify the expenditure to build and maintain the platform or the user engagement to attract return visitors over their existing social media channels. In effect the idea these tech companies are talking about is to take people from the big city and move them to a small country town and expect to see the same level of diversity and interaction without the same number of people to do it. There are just not the numbers of users to drive the critical levels of interest required to make the platform interesting enough to want to come back and use it again and again. It’s well known that if you want a social life then you move to New York City, London or Sydney and if you want a quiet life you move to the country. The very idea of social media is meant to be grand and create togetherness in a boundless, interesting and diverse way, not isolated and separated.
Too many platforms to manage and too little time to manage them – Take into consideration the plethora of existing social media platforms that a user has available to them. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Flickr, Digg, the list goes on and on – and that’s just the western ones. Many of the dotBrands have substantial followings in Japan, Russia and China and they have their own preferred social media platforms. Why would users delete or move from their existing SM platforms just because a brand decides they want to start up their own? Let’s say the users decide to add a dotBrand social media platform to their list of existing channels, how are they going to manage that? The reality is that users are struggling now just to cope with what they have. Most users only have one platform anyway (Facebook) and only have so much time available to be on it. Facebook provides just about everything a user needs in order to engage with a brand. A dotBrand platform is going to be a doubling up of a majority of brand content that can be found elsewhere anyway. For a dotBrand to think they have the power to move their users away from platforms like facebook, twitter, youtube ect in favour of running their own platform is unrealistic.
It was the users who initially started fan pages so why would a regulated branded social media platform make any difference? You don’t have to have an official brand account to share your interest in a brands content.
Push vs Pull and lose the X factor – Other than being a defensive tool for protecting a trademark, the dotBrand concept is actually a clever idea and a potentially lucrative concept designed to better connect a brand with its target audience than a .com or any other top level domain for that matter – “If it’s not dotNike then it’s not us”, it IS the brand. Nothing could be simpler than that and nothing is more relevant. While there is incredible perceived valuable in this from a marketing point of view it doesn’t translate into individual social media platforms. A dotBrand social media platform claims to offer user specific material that is tailored to their needs. To unite users of a similar interest or common cause and provide content based on that. It claims to be a personalised branded experience like no other. In reality though these platforms will be nothing more than databases of existing users/ customers where they will be forced to interact in order to perform certain functions. They will be pushed/ forced to engage and digest advertising and marketing material which they may or may not want. This will then mean that the brands will lose the special X factor they have on other social platforms where there is a pull effect by users wanting to engage with the brands content as a part of their daily dose of social interaction.
The dotBrands need to continue to maintain a user driven approach to their social media if they want the users to not feel like they are being sold to. Once you reach the point of feeling like you are being sold to you turn the relationship from user driven (pull) to brand driven (push) and suddenly the excitement of social engagement disappears. Users will quickly grow tired of the same old branded propaganda that they can’t just click away from when their interests change. The effort to login, log out will become tiresome and wear thin and the dotBrand marketing team will be left scratching their heads as to why their platform is not producing the ROI like they thought it would.