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Social media’s adolescence: navigating changes to popular platforms
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Social media’s adolescence: navigating changes to popular platforms 

Human beings are not the only ones to undergo adolescence, though. It appears that social media sites are currently experiencing the same growing pains. Businesses that have profiles and advertise on these platforms feel frustrated and confused by the modifications Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have made. Tracey Parsons, lead strategist at the strategic service agency Social Media Explorer, shared her advice on navigating social media’s teenage years.

Parsons advocated patience in dealing with this situation. “I don’t feel that brands can do much as these platforms grow up other than work diligently to adjust their strategy and focus on delivering value,” she said. Parsons attributes changes to social media sites to consumer attitudes towards advertising. “I would argue that we got into this situation because ads were becoming annoying to the platform’s user base,” she commented.

The onus is on businesses to adapt, Parsons asserted. “The change is going to have to come from the brand side,” she remarked. “Brands are going to have to evolve their marketing.” This evolution involves a mindset change. “Social media is not a giant bullhorn from which to yell ‘BUY NOW!’” Parsons noted. The persistence in this belief is alienating consumers. “Many marketers are only comfortable with this approach, so, customers who use social get annoyed because they are using social platforms to connect with their friends and family, not to be interrupted with a BUY NOW sign,” she explained.

Consumers’ irritation towards advertisers is the cause of social media’s “adolescence.” “I think consumer frustration is what’s driving this adolescence,” Parsons said. “There are too many ads, too many brands selling their wares too aggressively.” Users do not want to be bombarded with marketing messages every time they log on, and they have communicated this sentiment to their favourite platforms.

What will it look like when social media sites reach “adulthood”? “When they’ve figured out how to be more diverse in their revenue strategies,” Parsons responded. “The challenge in growing into adulthood is to satisfy people’s desire the platform and the connection it creates without feeling sold to all the time. In a two-sided marketplace the platform has to keep everyone happy, but never forget without ‘eyeballs,’ the platform has nothing to sell. Conversely, the platforms cannot bite the hand that feeds them either.”

Changes to advertising policies will not be the only mark of social media’s transition. Parsons opined that the treatment of customer information will be the next big issue. “I see anonymity as a huge shift,” she remarked. “People are becoming very leery of how and where their data is shared.” However, what could potentially be a hurdle for many businesses could be an opportunity for others. “I also think there is a way to monetize anonymity for the platforms and this could drive additional change for platforms and brand marketers,” Parsons added. While it is unclear as to what that additional change will be, businesses should be prepared for the continued adolescence of social media sites.

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