Cross-pollination amongst social networks has been a trend ever since Facebook tried to replicate Twitter's tweets into its status updates and Foursquare's geo-location components into its Facebook Places. This week, it appears the shoe is on the other foot, as both Twitter and Foursquare are dipping their toes into "brand pages" that comes very close to Facebook's fan pages.
It is still speculative but Marketing Magazine and others believe that Twitter is very close to introducing "pages" for brands to drive more revenue onto their microblogging site. Chief executive Dick Costolo and revenue director Adam Bain are heading up this initiative where "the pages would work in a similar way to Facebook pages, providing brands with their own space to deliver content and encourage Twitter users to follow them."
While a launch date was not noted, according to the report, the initial roll-out would begin in the US. Twitter's brand advertising has to date focused on three core products: "Promoted Tweets," "Promoted Trends," and "Promoted Accounts." While the first two are self-explanatory, Promoted Accounts is an opportunity for advertisers to maximize the exposure of their accounts by having them suggested to users as part of the "Who to Follow" feature.
"Pages" for Twitter would become the fourth revenue stream targeted at brands, which either indicates that their previous advertising components were not driving enough revenue, or on the flip-side were so successful, that Twitter feels that another support mechanism like "pages" would allow them to capitalize even more on the appeal the microblogging sites have for corporate brands.
Foursquare's "Pages Gallery" as the name implies is a gallery filled with top brands showcasing their products and services. The rationale behind this new component, according to a Mashable report is while there are 1323 brands using Foursquare presently, most users haven't been following them because they aren't that easy to discover.
Foursquare Pages Gallery
While paling in comparison to Facebook's reach, Pages Gallery will allow Foursquare to start to capitalize on its current 7.5 million user base motivating more brands to sign up. And since the network is very good at building promotional campaigns and brand partnerships, this is definitely a very positive first step in monetizing their site.
Important to note, that static pages on any of these networks however is not going to stimulate greater marketshare for companies. Branded pages differing from Web sites or even micro-sites need to be interactive, full of promotions, give-aways, contests and various innovative offerings to attract an engaged audience. The question is: Will Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare start to compete with one another for marketshare or will it just become part and parcel of a brand's social media strategy to effectively manage all three sites, because their competitors are doing so.
However some still question if a 'brand' presence on Facebook is just a necessary evil and doesn't really garner any kind of engagement or ROI. And since even Facebook 'undervalues' this feature by offering it for free, is there any real merit for brands to be represented on social networks at all? I think this debate will go on for some time - and with the Twitter and Foursquare teams adding their own twists to the model - we'll learn more in the months to come.
However, there is 'one' network that apparently has learned the trick. Ironically it's China's Facebook clone - Renren. This SN started out as a "copycat" site only - but in short order learned how to capitalize on their "brand pages." Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare should consider taking a 'page' out this site's playbook.
Nike's Renren Page
Renren is very aggressive when it comes to monetization and have been known to sell their "brand pages" to companies such as Nike starting at 600,000 yuan ($90,000 US). Now, that's a lot of money for Mark Zuckerberg, Ev Williams, Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey and Dennis Crowley to leave on the table!
Back to drawing boards, gentlemen!