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SMB Social Headache: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Now Ello?

You probably heard or read about new social network Ello last week. According to the company’s “manifesto,” it was created in reaction to Facebook and other social networks that are aggressively monetizing user data.

Ello totally shuns advertising and will charge users for upgraded features and capabilities. Here’s the manifesto:

Ello Manifesto

Ello is hot right now (partly because of scarce invitations) and could gain additional momentum in light of the re-launch of Atlas, Facebook’s newly revamped ad-serving platform that promises better targeting and measurement for advertisers. Facebook acquired Atlas from Microsoft in 2013.

Facebook user data will be fed into the platform’s web-wide targeting capabilities. Effectively Facebook audience- and interest-based targeting will be spread across the internet for marketers and publishers that adopt Atlas.

The larger point is that Ello could become yet another social network to pay attention to over the course of the next year. It’s still too early to tell. Yet Ello’s sudden emergence illustrates the highly dynamic and unpredictable nature of social media.

The “instability” of the social media marketplace is a major problem for small businesses (SMBs) and those entities that serve them.

A couple of weeks ago I was at Pinterest discussing the company’s ad strategy and SMB opportunity. I was told by Pinterest that there are already “hundreds of thousands” of SMBs using Pinterest and that “80% of all Pinterest businesses have less than 10 employees.”

Pinterest is for some SMBs a better choice than Facebook because of the more commercial nature of user intent on the site. Indeed, there are now five or six social media sites/platforms “that matter”: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and perhaps Snapchat. Ello could be added to that list in a year.

The ability of SMBs to keep up with all this and develop an effective presence on more than about two of these sites is difficult if not impossible. It’s nearly impossible even for large brands with sophisticated agencies to do so. Hypothetically the same content could simply be syndicated across all these sites, reducing the work for all involved.

A majority of SMBs consistently report that they’re marketing themselves on social media sites. However the majority don’t update with any frequency or have any sense of best practices, let alone how to determine ROI. And while they may be present, that SMB presence on most social sites is typically weak or ineffective.

Adding Pinterest and now, potentially, Ello compounds the challenge of social media for local business owners and everybody serving them. There’s no easy solution to that challenge. To date no one has created a one-to-many platform that allows SMBs to effectively manage their presence and posts across sites with a minimum of effort. By the same token, nobody has solved the problem of outsourced or assisted social media updating. (Two posts a month is not enough.)

Companies like LocalVox (now part of The Berry Company) and Amdocs offer outsourced solutions but they’re imperfect. Social media represent the greatest challenge today in providing marketing services to SMBs.

How do you think social media services for the SMB market will play out? Do you think some third party solution will ultimately “get it right”? And will we continue to see a constant parade of new social sites to pay attention to?

3 Responses to “SMB Social Headache: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Now Ello?”

  1. Good point Greg. It’s already hard to keep up with the existing networks, now there’s more. Did we all forget the previous “Facebook killer” that raised money with Kickstarter few years ago called Diaspora? I think when it comes to Facebook, the issue is – what is more important privacy or reach? Most people are on Facebook to connect with friends and family because that’s the easiest way to stay in touch due to its adoption (reach). This, in my opinion, outweighs privacy issues otherwise people would already leave. People like to complain about privacy, but in reality only activists take any real action of any kind.

    Remember that Facebook study that manipulated users’ emotions? What did we do? We talked how bad it is, slapped Facebook on the hand and said don’t do it again. And we moved on. Unfortunately, Facebook became part of our lives too much to just disappear… like a phone.

    You said in the post that existing outsourced solutions are imperfect. I’m very curious to find out what you mean by that. Can you elaborate on what these existing solutions are missing that would help SMBs with social media management and marketing?

    Thanks.

  2. Raj Domains says:

    Ello is new these days …. it has a tough competition among several other social networking sites … lets see whats happens.

  3. Greg Sterling says:

    Yes there’s a lot of established behavior around Facebook. I seriously doubt that Ello is anything approaching a FB “killer” by any stretch. However there is some pent-up demand for networks that aren’t as aggressive in monetizing/targeting/tracking

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