By Leigh Andrews
But I digress. The real issue here is that GM’s move seems to signify a shift away from what was once seen as ‘the next big thing’. Social networks have massive influence, so of course it seemed like the next big thing for advertisers to consider, too. We’ve heard that, but GM pulling $10-million of advertiisng from Facebook
? With social media ad spend in the US expected
to reach $9.8-billion by 2016 and Facebook
more than one billionaire, that’s hardly going to hurt Facebook
’s revenue stream. That said, Kathryn McConnachie, digital media editor at ITWeb
in May that Facebook
’s business model was being questioned ahead of its initial public offering. Ford also responded on Twitter
to the GM announcement by stating: “It’s all about the execution. Our Facebook
ads are effective when strategically combined with engaging content and innovation.”
So that’s the somewhat typical, subtly mud-slinging advertisers’ side of the fence. After all, we’re increasingly told that it’s how the message is received by the audience that matters – so I decided to ask your average social media consumers what they thought. When I polled the opinions of my acquaintances on Facebook
about whether they even notice advertising that appears on social networks, the overwhelming majority said ‘no’, or that while they see them, they don’t pay them any attention. Blogger Dan Nash
also asked his Twitter
followers recently “Have any of you EVER actually watched a full ad on YouTube
?” Rhetorical question? You decide. The fact is, today’s tech-savvy consumer sees advertising for what it is – a distraction.
Some of the people I polled were surprised to hear that advertising exists on these networks while others ignore it, finding it ‘creepy’ that ads are specifically targeted at their interests/age/lifestyle or what they have ‘Googled’ recently. Females in their twenties seem to get the ‘egg donation/work from home’ angle while those who claimed not to notice/care added that they have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of them. Fortunately it’s not all bad as competitions are met with a bit more interest. However, that doesn’t make it any less tricky as today’s consumer seems to be increasingly aware that they are simply being sold something wherever they look.
It seems consumers are even more jaded if they actually work in the industry. Belinda Lister, senior brand trade activator at Huggies Baby and Childcare, commented in response to my question: “As a marketer, I tend to get annoyed with all advertising, but I enjoy listening to or watching TV/radio ads. With PVR, I watch less and less, which is a concern ... Social media ads I find are spam, hence I ignore those completely. But there is definitely advertising overload as advertisers try and get all their messages heard wherever and however they can.”
Feeling gloomy? Don’t fret, there are success stories. Certain brands do their research properly, come up with a winning strategy and hit gold when they target consumers online. At last year’s IMC Conference
, Mike Sharman, owner of award-winning digital communication agency, Retroviral joined Nash in a presentation that showed brands don’t have to – and in fact shouldn’t – be the ones controlling the online conversation. I later wrote
that brands need to not just blog about their own brands, but also leverage off of existing online influencers such as bloggers and Twitter
personalities, to enhance their online ‘word of mouth’ dissemination. To turn your online fans into real-life consumers, you need to ensure your communication message is relevant in order to appeal to consumers and get influencers or ‘brand champions’ to talk about you. Peer validation is key here, as we tend to trust the opinion of people we know much more than the opinions of people who are hired to act in TV commercials or push a message online.
A last word of advice? Don’t be afraid of the online space. Sharman calls the social web ‘a braai on steroids’, as it’s a place where conversation takes place between brands and consumers (as well as between consumers and consumers) at a greater pace than anywhere else, and Nash concludes, “Everything is unknown until it is spoken about.”
What have your social media marketing experiences been like? Please share them on our blog