ITV sell Friends Reunited for £145m less than they paid for it. DC Thomson buy it, announce that they plan to make a dating site for the over-50s out of it.
As a service for the hard-of-thinking, in simple terms, this is what it means. ITV paid over £150m for Friends Reunited because they thought they could ‘monetise’ it (to press a curennt buzzword into service). They couldn’t. DC Thomson, being slightly smarter AND with the benefit of some years extra intel, realise that they’ll not be able to sell it as a marketing/advertising opportunity, so look at the ways they can make money from the users of the site. Who happen to be over 50 and – let’s face it – looking for something.
This – and eBay’s experience with Skype (OK, not technically a social network, but reliant on users parting with cash to communicate with each other) – really underlines where we are with social media as a marketing tool. Nowhere. Marketing activity through social media delivers no tangible value – certainly nothing that translates into noticeable uplift in revenues. The ITV/Friends Reunited debacle just shows how futile it is to try and ‘monetise’ – get a sensible, serious and stable revenue stream out of – a social medium.
It is an object lesson. Do not do it.
Oh, I hear you say, but I have no intention of buying placebebo.com and trying to monetise it. No, my social media marketing strategies involve using existing social media channels, and require no investment from me.
Wrong. Every hour you, or your people, spend monitoring Twitter or creating groups on Facebook is time, effort and opportunity cost that would be better dedicated elsewhere.
(Oh, yeah – Twitter – becoming the province of the middle-aged and older. Young people moving away, new research says so. Google it.)