Retailers with Instagram accounts; taco trucks posting their location to Twitter; a community bookstore with events posted to their Facebook account. These are just a few of the many examples of how business owners can bypass the binary “ask” of web advertising and connect to their community.
But we need to recognize how fragmented these examples are. They take place on three different social networks, and there’s only so much you can say on each. Single accounts that try to do and say everything can either confuse or overwhelm their users.
If you fragment your messages into easily-digestible packets they can work in harmony to build each network’s maximum effect. That so far has been the approach of most successful small businesses with a social presence.
But how long can this arrangement last? In a way, brands are ceding control to the platforms that publish their messages. It would be much more beneficial for businesses if their customers were able to go to the brand’s website and dive in on the social conversation happening then and there. You could have Instagram pics on the home page, Twitter updates scrolling along the side, and Like buttons on all the merchandise.
So why hasn’t this happened on a grand scale? It looks like there are a couple of factors involved. First, tricking out your homepage with all these social features requires money and continual management. Second, nobody wants to have a social conversation that revolves around a single brand—that’s just boring and not what social media’s all about.
What we’re seeing instead is a fluid back-and-forth where brands continue to integrate social on their sites, while social platforms are beginning to provide brands with ecommerce solutions. Twitter’s starting to toy with tweets that allow the user to purchase an item then and there, while Pinterest has been helping users track down retailers for some time now.
This ebb and flow dynamic is going to continue for the foreseeable future. And while there’s a lot of innovation on the horizon, it’s going to be Main Street that adopts these tools and tinkers with them in ways that might help us be both more efficient and effective in building our businesses online and off.