Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter have evolved from just being social media platforms. They are now providing different ways for brands to engage with their fans. Facebook had been severely criticized after it’s IPO for it’s failure to generate revenue and brands have doubted the effectiveness of Facebook ads. However, the launch of targeted Facebook ads in the network as well as outside it’s network have stopped the criticism for the moment. Twitter has also faced the same wrath from pundits who have failed to understand how it could ever make money and have labeled its advertising strategy as big fail. However, in the last month both Facebook and Twitter have targeted global events as one of their new sources of revenue and it is already showing results.
Events as the new source of revenue:
Twitter was one of the first to visualize global events as an opportunity and it collaborated with NASCAR to provide fans a different experience from the Pocono 400. #NASCAR was created and which was directed to a NASCAR branded page that included an exclusive stream of tweets and showcased profiles of people who were strongly related to NASCAR and the race.
Twitter hasn’t stopped with its NASCAR collaboration. It has done the same to capitalize on the Euro 2012 madness. Twitter has built a branded page for the #Euro2012 which is curating all the best content from around Euro2012. Twitter has also experimented with this during the recently concluded Cannes Lions by creating a dedicated page for #CannesLions. Twitter is surely going to test this further. With events, it is not only providing an official curated information but providing brands to engage with fans in a unique way.
Facebook that has been strengthening it’s advertising strategy with every passing day, has also experimented with events and to start with it is doing with London Olympics, 2012. Facebook has created a hub of pages that are related to London Olympics providing fans all the information in one hub. The Olympics dedicated Facebook page consists of all the pages of different sports, athletes and participating countries. So as a fan, you don’t need to hunt for pages but just log in here and keep a track of your favourite sports and athletes too.
However, Facebook’s tie up with Olympics 2012 is non commercial and I would be surprised if Facebook doesn’t add it as one more source of revenue generation. Going further this could be a great way for events such as Oscars, MTV Awards and IPL to brand itself in a unique way and engage with fans.
Can branded events work?
For the time being, branded events have worked for Twitter since it has been designed keeping in mind the user experience. The branded pages for the events are not only interesting but are providing curated information. The promoted tweets that have been introduced have not killed the user experience. However, Twitter has refused to host any huge banner ads on the network.
Facebook, which is experimenting with Olympics on a non-commercial basis, has more percentage of success in branding such global events. Not only does Facebook have the strength of 900 million users but also at the same time brands have more ways of engaging on Facebook. The possibilities of providing a unique branded experience on Facebook have increased with introduction of features such as live streaming, hosting sponsored targeted ads, etc.
Without a doubt, both the networks will try to make it work for them but who do you think will emerge a clear winner in generating revenue from branding global events?