Before I delve into this post, I should mention that, in my previous post I used the term "social media advertising," when, in actuality, it is better stated "social network advertising." Thus, I refer to it here in that manner.
If you're a fan of advertising, raise your hand. Come on, raise em high. Anyone?
In my last post, I raised the question of what the new advertising model for social media
(er…networks) will be. In this post I want to express my ambivalence over the viability of advertising in general, especially in its relationship to social networks.
As you will soon plainly see, I have a love/hate relationship with it (maybe "love" is too strong a word; hate, too, for that matter… "disdain" might be more accurate).
Oops, my ambivalence is showing
Even though I run some banner ads in the lower right-hand column of this blog, the fact that I run them in the lower r-h column tells you I'm ambivalent about running them at all! (That's not counting the Kindle 2 ad. I'm hoping to make some quick cash off of it. Hence, higher placement, but we'll see.)
It's not that I'm ambivalent about the products themselves. In fact, I feel strongly about everyone of them, and have used most of them too. I even created a page called Recommended Resources
which contains those and other products I hold in high regard.
It's just that advertising is interruptive, and I hate interrupting anyone for any reason, least of all to view an ad. It's not in my nature. I'm hoping someone will just "happen" to see them and sort of be "led" to click on one. (Lame, I know.)
It's Seth Godin's fault
Ever since Seth Godin wrote the book Permission Marketing
a decade ago, I've pretty much sidelined advertising as a viable option, which may explain my ambivalence to run ads on this site. If you want to talk to me, ask my permission, don't just stick an ad in my face. Once I grant it, we can have a conversation and you can advertise to me all you want.
The exception to this (for me at least) are pay-per-click ads. I'm okay with those since I'm searching for information anyway. But, only in search, mind you, not otherwise.
Advertising in social networks
Let's cycle around to social networks. If people visit a social network for the purpose of interacting with friends and followers, doesn't it seem imprudent (not to mention impolite) to embed an ad in the sidebar, or, worse, in the conversation stream?
I rue the day when we see them in our twitterstream, though I don't think it will take long for us to become blind to them. Either that, or ditch Twitter altogether in favor of a less offensive option.
Observations about social network advertising
CEO Michael Lazerow said in a comment to a post on social network advertising
at Marketing Pilgrim that, "At Buddy Media we believe the branded application…will be the new ad unit."
That reminded me of something Dave Winer said
, "When they finish the process of better and better targeted advertising, that's when the whole idea of advertising will go poof, will disappear. If it's perfectly targeted, it isn't advertising, it's information."
A new company set to launch in Q2, uVizz
, says it will solve the social network advertising dilemma once and for all. The company is not yet revealing what it has up its sleeve though.
The virtual general store
I favor a comment made by Wayne Hurlbert
in our recent Blog Talk Radio podcast
. He likened social networks to the old general store, which was much more than a place to purchase goods, but a gathering place, a watering hole, a community center where news, information and gossip was shared among neighbors (and sometimes about them).
I wonder if there's a way to recreate that environment via virtual social networks and online communities. Have the goods and services nearby and handy for when people need them, but don't put an ad in the middle of the checker board.
Reflecting on that idea, I wonder if niche social networks aren't the way to go. You offer only those products and services you know will appeal to the community because you are a part of it.
For example, one of my Twitter friends, Marek Eby (@trilobitten
) is a huge fan of paleontology, so much so that he's created his own community
around the topic, including a store
. Since only those who are interested in the paleontology would be routine visitors, it stands to reason they won't be put off by relevant advertising. In fact, they may consider it a value-add.
Another great example is the Womens Wisdom Network, started by my friend Terri Murphy. It's a place for businesswomen to gather to discuss whatever businesswomen discuss. There is a book store associated with the site, along with some other resources, but it is tangential. Community comes first.
Now, I think THAT is a social network advertising model worth emulating!
One thing is absolutely certain — advertising in one form or the other will always be with us. We may call it content, app-vertisements, or something else, but it will be here. The trick, then, is to make it as unobtrusive as possible, even welcome.
It is also certain that there will be continued experimentation with social network advertising models until we find one (or more) that resonate with th
e community. In the meantime, those of us who frequent social networks will have to become used to the Frankensteinian monstors that pass for such models.
Be patient though. If Facebook Beacon taught us anything, they won't be around for long before another takes their place. Over time, it will get better. It has to. Money is at stake.