If you aren't a teenage girl, chances are you haven't heard of the social network We Heart It, but if you have anything to do with your company's social media strategy, you might want to take a look at it and a new brand of social media sites that are getting rid of comments. We Heart It and Pinterest, among others, are taking the engagement out of social engagement and finding quite a lot of success.
We Heart It wears its demographic on its sleeve when you go to its own home page. Covered in pink and with pictures clearly aimed at young women, We Heart It announces itself with the slogan "Believe, Feel, Love, Be, Create, Inspire." It is a photo-sharing site that has really one unique proposition -- there's no place for anyone to criticize or comment on what you post. You can "heart" a picture or you can ignore it. That's it. Seems boring, doesn't it?
Well, it is so "boring" that it has 25 million users, nearly 80% of which are under 25 (the most coveted group for a social network). And in case you were upset with me about the comment about what young women like, take note of the fact that 70% of the users are female, so it is less a statement of opinion than of fact.
Consider Pinterest, as well, another service that has removed full-scale interaction in favor of simply photosharing what you like. Pinterest has 70 million users dedicated to posting pictures of things they like. You can't go to someone's Pinterest page and tell them how bad their taste is. You can't go there and cover their page with propaganda about your favorite political party. You like the stuff or you move on.
And Pinterest has a fantastically valuable following. The nearly 70% female audience has a large percentage (over 28%) of users who make more than $100,000 per year. They spend significantly more time on the site (over 15 minutes) per day than on Twitter (just over three minutes). Again, for a site with nothing to do, they sure seem committed to it.
Is it possible that the world is tired of the sort of negative interaction found on social networks that allow comments? Are people tired of posting a quote they find inspirational only to be told how lame it is?
It appears possible. And that provides an interesting social marketing reality for companies. How pleased would you be if you never had to respond to another social media complaint? How much money do you spend monitoring the various social media sites for complaints to rectify?
After what happened to the airlines this week, it must be music to your ears. After American Airlines had a teenager arrested for making a Twitter bomb threat, they received dozens more. Then US Airways tweeted pornography in response to a woman complaining about a late flight in a mistake they still don't understand. Wouldn't both airlines be happier if we were all on Pinterest instead of Twitter?
Obviously, enterprises can't push us all to the social media sites they want us to be on, but what they can do is take a page out of their playbook. When creating social interaction on your own sites, it is tempting to make yourself seem "available" and open your door to public criticism. Instead, what if you made a positive environment where people who had positive associations to your brand could post and "heart" pictures about it? Could you create more positive brand associations by showing how many people love what you do without giving them a chance to undermine you? Possibly.
It is too early to tell exactly what this means. You can bet E2 isn't going to close its comment section in favor of people posting pictures of how they feel and "hearting" our stories. But not every community is as professional and friendly as ours. Given that communities are finding ways to draw quite a lot of valuable users by closing down their comments might help you find a new way to use your social media presence, which is more positive and easier to manage. You might heart the new social media.