Why Are Social Behaviors Plateauing?

Since 2007, Forrester has tracked the growth of social behaviors.  For years we’ve seen increases in more complex social behaviors such as Creators—those who generate social content including YouTube videos and blog posts.  But for the first time, we’re seeing a change in the growth trend.  Our latest 2010 Global Social Technographics report demonstrates that many social behaviors have reached a plateau.  Why, and what does this mean to marketers?

There is not a single answer to those questions.  The reasons span things as complex as human nature and as simple as Web site usability.  For example, is it sensible to believe that Creator behavior will ever be universal? Not every person has a burning need to be a reporter, an industry expert, a videographer, a musician, a thought leader, an editor or a broadcaster.  The fact that more than 1 in 5 online adults in the US are exhibiting Creator behavior is a testament to how social technologies have lowered the bar, since these tools have allowed more people to create and distribute their ideas, opinions and creations than was ever possible in the past. 

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Why Aren't Facebook Ads More Transparent?

For a company that thrives on transparency, Facebook's advertising isn't very transparent.  Check out your Facebook home page, note the ads on the right side, and tell me what companies they're for.  Sure, the ads probably cite brand or company names in the headlines and images, but who are the companies who paid for those ads? Where will you end up if you click those ads? And an ever better question is, what will happen if you "Like" the ad--will you be giving information to a trusted brand or a spammer?

Now go to Google, conduct a search, and check out the AdWords on the right side. Who sponsors those ads? And where will you end up if you click on those ads?

Google advertising is transparent, and Facebook advertising is not. The difference is a single line of text: AdWords creates transparency by including a "Display URL."  Within ad AdWords, advertisers can set different Destination and Display URLs, but the two must be within the same domain so that (in the word of Google's AdWords form), "users know what to expect when they click your ad."  (The reason there is a difference between the Destination and Display URLs is so that advertisers can direct people to a specific page in their domain while displaying the much shorter root domain in the ad ). 

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