WTF Is Advertising?

I saw a question posed on Twitter the other day, and it was worth a retweet, as well as some expansion on the answer. The question read: “WTF is advertising?”

What a loaded one, eh?

Whatever industry you’re in, I’m sure there are customized answers that are more meaningful to you and your audience. But for me, my response is based on social media marketing. So, the question becomes: “WTF is social media advertising?”

First things first: pay-to-play on social media platforms is alive and well; and effective if you configure the right strategy. But even with pay-per-click ads on Facebook and Twitter (and now, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.), advertising is deeper than ever before. Social media advertising is about thoughtful content, not CTAs and display ads.

Here are three reasons why:

Consumers are smarter than the average bear

  • As a millennial, I can promise that if a brand click-baits me with an ad and I land on a page that doesn’t deliver what was implied, I pretty much write them off. Time is arguably the most valuable “thing” a consumer has, and if brands think that empty clicks are doing them any good, they’re wrong. In one click, this takes your credibility, as a brand, from 100 to 0.
  • Let’s talk about behavior. Consumers are on social media to connect and to share. Treat Facebook like a family gathering, not a Black Friday blowout sale at your store-front. Users can “hide” and “see less” from your brand at the click of a couple buttons; and if you’re constantly spamming them with sales-y, non-meaningful posts, they are probably clicking those buttons- and worse? They’ll unfollow you!
  • Old school advertisers go crazy with Facebook’s guidelines for ads, but really, these advertisers are just missing the point of the platform altogether. Facebook wants to keep the user experience authentic, aka continuing the trend of a desire to connect and share. Without Facebook’s guidelines, classified-type CTAs and display ads would ruin all of our personal newsfeeds, hence causing users to drop the app in a heartbeat.

Social media is your brand, in human form

  • Hard to wrap our heads around, sure. But, for millennials and generation Z-ers, A brand’s profile photo is just like their mom’s or their best friend’s: human. Brands should not separate themselves from humanity, but rather, become immersed in it.
  • Maybe the best way to understand this concept is to think like a consumer; and as a consumer, ask yourself, “who would I rather be friends with, the shallow/popular kid or the kid who has my back?”

Depth resonates with social media users

  • In short, sales win seasonal customers, while stories yield brand ambassadors.
  • Everyone has a story, so find your brand’s. Telling your brand’s story gives consumers a reason to want to tell their friends, family, social networks (other potential customers) about it. Once you figure out your brand’s story, find a way to tell it with meaningful content that users will appreciate and find value in.
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