Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Be Purposeful Or Else You Will Be Ignored

On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it would begin adding "Sponsored Story" ads to users' news feeds in January.  This will not happen in mobile apps yet.  This announcement is another step in Facebook's plan to monetize it's business and make it a viable advertising platform. 

If you're an advertiser, this gives you an easier way to get in front of the eyeballs of millions of Facebook users.  If you're Facebook, you just earned yourself some more ad dollars and paid a few more bills.  If you're a Facebook user, you may have another reason to ignore Facebook today.  And that's the caution to throw into the wind:  "Sponsored Stories", if overused, will quickly be ignored, and will have little to no value for any advertiser.  In fact, if Facebook isn't careful, and if you aren't as a media buyer, "Sponsored Stories" could be a huge flop.

Remember that "reach" basically is the number of individuals you want to expose your message to through any type of media scheduled over a given period of time.  For focused groups of audiences, Social Media and other online advertising provide great reach.  However, frequency is where things can go wrong.  When you're visiting a website, such as a news outlet, you expect to see ads.  You're voluntarily allowing yourself to be exposed to them.  Even if advertisements appear, we tolerate them, because we're simply using the website to consume information in an impersonal matter.

Social Media isn't impersonal, it's personal.  Frequency can quickly die off with Social Media, because when ads invade our personal "space" online, we change our usage patterns; quickly visiting a services like Facebook less, or even stopping altogether.  Once that happens, you've lost that consumer, potentially alienating them from your brand (as an advertiser), and possibly losing another revenue generating user. 

That's the slippery slope.  As an advertiser, you need to make sure not to abuse Social Media advertising.  It's users may be more receptive to your messages, but if you over "communicate" to them, too frequently, and without specific value or purpose in your message, they will quickly ignore you.  Once they ignore you, your Brand Awareness measures and credibility may start to decline as well.

Facebook needs to quickly decide how much advertising they really want to force their users to view.  If they continue to add more "ads" to people's feeds, Facebook may quickly lose users, and one of the "pot of golds" of internet advertising may cease to be.


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