Not unexpectedly, predictions for brands and social media in 2016 are coming our way. In its newest report, eMarketer is predicting that Facebook and Twitter will continue to be the leading social networks for marketers, but both it and SEO consulting agency White Hat Media are predicting rapid growth for Instagram now that it is accepting ads. Of course, with Instagram being owned by Facebook, that change will make Facebook the leader by far for B2C social advertising. See eMarketer Predictions and White Hat Media Predictions. (and thanks to White Hat Media for the cool fortune cookie image above).
As one of its major predictions for 2016, Digiday is predicting that brands “will stop trying to be millenials’ cool friend.” Digiday Brand Predictions. Why? Because as Tanya Dua, the author of the story keenly observes after noting that in 2015, more than 168 brands, including many of the majors, included a lot of mentions of what they considered to be “cool” millennial phrases (like “bae” and “on fleek”): “when a thing becomes cool enough for [brands] to have heard of it, it’s probably lost its cool cache. And when everyone’s doing it, it completely loses any semblance of authenticity.” The real problem for brands was that while consumers at first thought the use of these phrases gave the brands some personality and sass, this quickly was replaced by suspicion and in some cases backlash when these same consumers discovered that these ads were collecting a ton of their personal data with no controls over how the data would be used.
This consumer disconnect was the subject of a fascinating article in the New York Times entitled “Sorry, but Your Favorite Company Can’t be Your Friend.” NYT Sorry Story. As author Josh Barro observed:
“A hallmark of communal relationships is that they are not based on exchanges of comparable benefits. That doesn’t mean you are supposed to freeload off your friends, but it does mean if your friend drives you to the airport, you are not supposed to give him $80 — you are supposed to do him a favor later, when he needs help from you. Since companies are ultimately in the business of charging their customers for products and services, they are likely to end up violating the communal relationship norms they establish, with charges for services rendered intruding on the friendly nature of the relationship.” In other words, friends don’t charge friends to be friends (my words, not his).
But friends do find ways to help each other out. The best way for brands to do this according to some experts is to provide consumers with functionality that makes use of their apps and ads more friendly and easy to use, like the “Easy Order” button from Domino’s that makes ordering a one-click process. There’s a charge, but great functionality eases the pain. And given the state of the world, a little less pain will go a really far way.