Mark Zuckerberg, the 24 year old boss of Facebook opened up advertising on Facebook last year taking the approach of ‘social actions’ of its users. He explains it in his press release that “The core of every user’s experience on Facebook is their page and that’s where (all) businesses are going to start as well. Social actions are powerful because they act as trusted referrals and reinforce the fact that people influence people. It’s no longer just about messages that are broadcasted out by companies, but increasingly about information that is shared between friends. Social Ads can appear either within a user’s News Feed as sponsored content or in the ad space along the left side of the site.”
A lot of people believe that this might take web advertising to its new generation fourth phase. Basically Internet advertising has three proven advertising categories. The first is the banner or display ads; I guess it’s the most used by Indian marketers. The second is the online classifieds (eg. Craigslist); I can’t think of a successful Indian example in this case. Third is the widely spreading ‘search advertising’ that has been largely driven by Google.
As a marketer myself, I find the search related ads as the safest bet where I might put my monies. I haven’t found many banner ads so compelling or memorable enough to click on them. Search ads appear at right time and also I have to pay for them only if the consumer responds by clicking on it.
Although Facebook Ads is a step forward from earlier forms of advertising it cannot be considered as social media. It is still advertising. The message will still be more like brand speak rather than consumer speak. I give this example every time I have to explain the difference between speaking with and speaking to. Think of speaking to someone as standing on a podium with audience facing towards you while speaking with as coming down from that podium and standing together with the people and discussing with them. Social media is all about dialoguing with people, participating in their conversations and generating value for the group
We have reached a stage where Cluetrain Manisfesto needs to be revisited as its implications are being felt more than ever. It is important to preserve the sanctity of conversation economy even more. As social media marketer you have to ensure that you are creating value for your reader. Brian Solis has added his own unique perspective in his post Conversational Marketing Vs Market Conversations
- The purpose of conversation is to create and improve understanding, not for one party to “deliver messages” to the other. That would be rude.
- There is no “audience” in a conversation. If we must label others in conversation, let’s call them partners.
- Conversations are about talking, not announcing. They’re about listening, not surveying. They’re about paying attention, not getting attention. They’re about talking, not announcing
- “Driving” is for cars and cattle, not conversation
To sum up, placing ads in Facebook may at best be termed as advertising in social media platform. It will always be one way street. It is not correct and complete manner of consumer engagement. It will make the marketer feel happy to see the brand next to a conversation but rest assured it is getting ignored by the consumer just as ever.