Social networks have gone corporate. From Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat and beyond, the more they move forward, the more alike they become. Instagram has essentially copied Snapchat feature-for-feature with Instagram Stories. Snapchat’s ad product strategy and revenue plans come directly from Facebook’s monetization playbook. Pinterest has launched ad groups to make the platform more attractive to big advertisers by making launching campaigns on Pinterest similar to launching them on other social networks. As marketers evaluate these platforms and what they have to offer from a product perspective, things look quite similar.
Platforms have taken steps to make advertising on them and reaching consumers simple, easy and straightforward with off-the-shelf ad products. Any marketer can select an ad objective, upload some creative and be off to the races, and in most cases, that’s okay. But in other instances, that’s not enough.
Standardization Breeds Stagnation
The social space is quickly evolving from one of innovation to one of standardization where every marketer has the same basic tools to plug and play their messages and get them in front of users. That’s not social’s legacy. It captured the attention of marketers as a way to stand out, do things differently and push what’s possible when it comes to marketing.
Innovate or Be Ignored
Innovation is how brands stand out. People are inundated with messages in a sea of media. It’s on their phone, in their headphones, on their screens. It’s everywhere. How does one choose what he or she spends time with? It’s content and activations that do things differently that capture attention. The content that does the unexpected is what gets viewed, shared and talked about.
Platforms want to be used in specific, prescribed ways. They don’t want marketers to push them out of their comfort zones, but marketers have to. As platforms become more entrenched in what they offer and how they work and advertiser spends continue to consolidate with the top tier of partners, marketers have to push what’s possible.
Ask What Else
That means take what Facebook, Instagram and the like are offering and make them as creative possible, but don’t stop there. Think beyond what they say is possible. Marketers should want to be pushed out of their comfort zones because that’s where things get interesting. In turn, social platforms should be pushed outside of their comfort zones by marketers, and if they don’t want to embrace innovation, marketers should look elsewhere. We are inundated with media, and innovation and creativity are the only things that stand out.
Don’t just accept what’s available off the shelf. Use it to the best of its ability and then take a step further.