December 13, 2007
Facebook. All the cool kids are doing it. Are you?
For advertisers, it’s a hard market to pass up. So many people in one place at one time. Marketers see something like this and it’s as if their dreams have come true. It’s got that glowing, shiny exterior that seems to say: come to us. We have numbers.
Numbers are important in a marketing campaign. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. However, in the Facebook world some of those numbers have gotten them in trouble. The reason being that in recent times Facebook introduced a new advertising platform. A platform that gathered numbers that not everyone was comfortable parting with.
Numbers and demographics. Demographics tell advertisers who and where their potential customers are. When millions upon millions of users register their personal information on a social site, all of the sudden demographic research becomes far easier than it has ever been before.
But fail to notify your users or give them an opportunity to completely opt out of the platform, and there will be a huge backlash of opinion. In the space of a month the site can go from “have you tried that out yet” to “remember when everyone liked it?”.
Online advertising propels online development. We all understand this, and, to a point, we all we’ve come to accept this. So much so that we barely even notice it anymore.
Here’s a quick thought experiment. Did you check your email this morning? Do you check it everyday? It’s a fairly common practice. Were you aware that there were advertisements all around your message? We all know they’re there. Flashing, pretty colors or creative titles in bold text. They’re always nearby… just in the periphery of our vision.
Now, do you remember a single one? Do you even remember what they were selling?
My guess is that you probably don’t.
Online advertising is the epitome of the in-the-moment selling. If the pretty colors or particular text catch your eye then and there, you might just click on it. But that means the truth is there’s as much reliance on pure impulse as there is on demographics.
Facebook is the latest in a line of platforms that are trying to deliver the opportunity to receive targeted advertising. Isn’t that nice of them? We’re going to use your personal information to deliver targeted advertising, because we have to advertise, so it might as well be for things you’ve given us hints that you actually like. Oh, and we might sell your information to others, so they can share in this opportunity.
But at least we’ve been given the opportunity to receive ads we want to see.
Wait. Ads we want to see?
Personal information being used to determine out likes and dislikes?
Let’s face it. No one wants advertisements. And rolling out an advertising platform and touting it as something beneficial to a user base isn’t fooling anyone. And in the wake of the backlash from this platform, Facebook has changed some of its policies and made it easier to opt in or out of the program.
So what about regular online advertising in social mediums like this? Is it effective? Do the demographics reduce the dependence on impulse? Or are the users of social sites so intent on the content that advertising doesn’t even register with them?
Studies have shown that the tendencies of the common user lean toward that last option. Click rates per page views on Facebook (and other social sites) are extremely low.
It seems people are too busy with socializing to even give into impulse clicks.
Does that mean you don’t need to consider social media in your online advertising campaign?
Not at all. While there are arguments flying around about the staying power of Web 2.0 applications and whether we’re on the verge of another bubble bursting, that is irrelevant to the current discussion.
In the here and now community works. Advertisements may not, but advertising isn’t your only option on these networks.
Community works because users feel like you have their interests in mind, rather than just your own. Community is about communication, and that might be the best advertising you could hope for.