Hype and the True Value of Social Media

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore.

The past few weeks have brought several significant shakeups in the advertising industry with major social media platforms making big announcements for their advertising options.

Twitter’s promoted tweets, LinkedIn’s new sponsored groups, Apple’s iAd mobile advertising and Facebook’s social plugins have all been announced in a matter of weeks, and these revelations are a huge shift in how brands and agencies will approach reaching audiences through these platforms in the future.

None of these advertising opportunities follow a template. Traditional online display advertising brings with it a certain set of rules for developing and executing, but the recent announcements don’t follow traditional standards (Facebook ads never did in the first place). Each requires creation and implementation accompanied by new strategies and executions, meaning that things won’t be as turnkey as we may have gotten used to.

For example, a sponsored tweet requires content that resonates and speaks to the Twitter audience to be successful, iAd will require different executions than other ads for a mobile campaign and generating content that is “likable” on your brand’s website might be necessary for driving traffic from Facebook.

The way marketers communicate with consumers online is changing and will continue to change. This requires new strategies and thinking that is custom to the platform. Not everyone plays by the same rules online, and marketers need to apply a different set of thinking for each platform and determine how that platform can best communicate their message to consumers.

Lots of Changes, but Don’t Forget the Basics

There is a lot of hype out there for the recent announcements (I’m guilty, too.), but the key is to remember what I believe is the true value of social media. Consumers are having conversations online, and what they say matters.

What are they saying about you? Your competitors? Your category? Is there a problem that consumers experience that you can solve? Understanding what consumers are saying and becoming a part of those conversations in a positive way is the biggest value that a marketer can gain from social media.

Before jumping on the latest announcement from Twitter or Facebook, look at what you’re already doing. Promoted tweets may not be the way to go if you don’t already have an active Twitter account, iAds may not be the best choice if your audience doesn’t include heavy iPhone users and so on.

Don’t forget the basics and the true value of social media when pursuing the hype. These new announcements may be the perfect fit for your strategy, but make sure they’re not being pursued because they’re the latest thing.