“WHAT YOU KEEP HIDDEN FROM OTHERSIS WHAT CAUSES PEOPLE TO FRIEND YOU.IT BECOMES ADDICTIVE.”By Jyothi KiranDigital Anthropologistwww.peppersquare.com
Why users seek the anonymouslimelight & how you can exploit the busylandscape to your business advantageAnonymity in social media sites continuesto thrive and sharing experiencesoccupies a big chunk of social medianetworks where it results in therapy forsome, power for others, and anopportunity for businesses to takeadvantage of. Social media trendsindicate that the market is expected toburst at the seams with activity in 2010.
THERAPYThey pour their hearts out in anonymous voices but are heard sympathetically. Theyconfess about their sexless lives, infidelity, loneliness, depression, helplessness, and alsoabout where they derive their inspiration from. The freedom to speak anonymously is agreat advantage says Mello, a member of Experience Project, a network that promotesanonymity, in socialmediabiz. Those bottled up feelings that get expressed anonymouslyon the social network sites become the currency for relationships. “What you keep hiddenfrom others is what causes people to friend you,” says Mello, “It becomes addictive.” TheExperience Project reported 3.5 million users as of November 2009.People genuinely need a channel to express their thoughts instead of carrying it aroundwith them. Purging emotions and ideas anonymously is legitimately therapeutic andpresents a powerful opportunity for businesses. Writing in the Harvard Business Review,on the Six Social Media Trends for 2010, David Armano, Vice President at Edelman Digital,predicts, “Your company will have a social media policy (and it might actually be enforced).”Anonymous or not, these are real people, waiting to be addressed.
POWERAccording to a Forrester report released in January 2010 called “Introducing the New SocialTechnographics” a third of adults post at least once a week to social sites such as Facebookand Twitter; a quarter of adults publish a blog and upload video/audio they created; nearly60% maintain a profile on a social networking site; 70% read blogs, tweets and watch usergenerated video.Of all the social media networks, facebook seems to be the most popular where as Twitter isfor the tech savvy. According to facebook, there are 325 million users but many claim that thenumbers are a little exaggerated because as one user puts it, “20% at least of the profiles onfacebook are fictive used by scammers (that we set up a group to hunt) perverts and otheridiots that either have no idea what they are doing or just those who forgot their password”.Anonymity is by choice. As an anonymous user succinctly puts it ‘very often, our name is ouridentity and with it come pre-conceived notions about how we are supposed to think, act.Honesty is a by-product of anonymity! For the confessional, the screen offers privacy and isvery conducive to soul-baring! Thought about in a different way, it is the armor of the modestand meek.But not all of them bare their souls and honesty is the last thing on their mind. For them it’snot about soul-baring in privacy; it is about empowering their identities and playing games toreclaim the macho selves they seem to have lost in the urban haze of reality.An anonymous user says he has at least 20 online avatars and when the network fails, itamounts to a great deal of pressure that he ‘feels lost, gets aggressive and ends up smokingjust to relieve the stress of not being connected.’ In a convoluted way, anonymity, the abilityto take on any avatar at will and play the role you want, offers power to users.
BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIESSo there’s the slice of social media landscape with people actively participating in it for avariety of reasons but admittedly very addictive users. How do we leverage this network offaceless users into revenue opportunities?Earlier, Internet users used social media for emailing, creating homepages and updating theirblogs. This has changed as users now gravitate towards services that offer the environmentof a social hub. They use social networks to sharing videos, photos, blog postings, theirshopping lists, current mood, their likes and dislikes, and to bolster their career and fordating. Hence, there are business opportunities to seize upon these websites where traffic isnot merely transaction oriented but driven by social and psychological needs.Understanding these demographics, and analyzing the trends and time spent on the kind ofcontent users are seeking opens up a large pool of opportunities for businesses to anticipateand address user needs. Social media today presents an opportunity to not just seed openplatform conversations with your brand and service, but also listen to what consumers haveto say about your business. They offer insights that previously took time, money and effort.Today, top line understanding is there for the picking. And for the really smart businesses, itis an opportunity to engage directly with consumers who are speaking their mind.Unfortunately, there are (as yet) no reliable metrics to measure the key outcomes of socialmedia: influence and engagement. But the way forward is to measure everything you can.This way you will be able to sift through the metrics that matter the most in your business orin achieving your goals – which, as we know, is different for different businesses. Additionally,because of the vast diversity of social media and its changing relevance to differentbusinesses, there are no Must-Track Metrics and neither is there a prescribed process formeasurement. Engagement is proof of success, but how do you define engagement and howdo you track it?
It’s understandably frustrating, but social media is too tantalizing an opportunity to miss. Ifengagement could be measured what would it be: number of minutes spent to read a tweet?Number of times a video was viewed? Number of comments left behind for a picture? Asmuch as we would like to believe that the truth is hidden somewhere behind those numbers,these methods are specious. Influence and engagement are too subtle a process to track.According to yourstory, a popular social media site, “The words to watch this year will be“professional validation” and “measurements” if 90% of businesses are to transition frombeing busy with social media to being effective.” How these two key facets will pan out is notimportant at the moment. It is however critical to recognize that social media is not the “new,new thing” anymore. It is normalized life. If your business is not looking at Social MediaOptimization within its marketing function, you are falling behind the curve.About pepper squareReady to take your business where you want it to gopepper square is a full service digital interactive services company offering interface design,content, e-commerce, technology, marketing and social media solutions that combinesmarket insights with creativity to deliver engaging experiences that will power your businessand help you succeed.Click here to connect with us .