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Why Advertising Is Not Social Media


Question: Of those reading this article, how many of you have spent time looking at social media? How many of you have spent time (actively) looking at adverts?

I’m betting that 99% (there is always 1%) have spent time today looking at social media. Why? Because you want to; you search for a find content you want to consume and consume it.

You might follow people and look forward to a writer’s blogs, or sometimes you come across something in your news feed. Either way, you are in social media because you want to be there. You probably have it set up so you are reading the articles you want from the people you like. Hopefully social media enriches your life (it does for me).

Was amazed last week when I watched a video, from a “Social Media Expert” who was explaining the benefits of Social Media platforms for sending people advertisements. (The same “Social Media Expert” was blocked last week by one of my friends for sending him ads.) It got me thinking, is Social Media just a broadcast advertising platform? This person who calls himself a “Social Media Guru” obviously thinks so.

In researching this blog I asked a number of contacts and they have a strong believe that “Social Media Gurus” who actually 1950s broadcast marketers in disguise, are killing social media. Or at least confusing people.

My Selling Holy Grail

Ever since I started in sales, we always searched for that “holy grail” of not interrupting a prospective client. Contacting people cold is difficult so having some way of warming them up before we made contact, is something I’ve strived for. This could take the form of an email to warm up. Or following, liking or engaging with a prospect on social, before we make a call or email. Here at Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) we train telesales / telemarketing teams on how to increase their output and activity by mixing in social techniques.

In this blog, I’m going to talk about the differences between broadcast marketing and engagement marketing. I also interview a good friend of mine who works in Facebook Ads to show that even today in advertising you need to be social.

Broadcast vs Conversation

Broadcast Marketing started in the 1930s and became very popular in the 1950s. Basically (as a brand) you stand and shout about your products and services at your prospected customers.

Many brands, even today talk about themselves and do this on their websites and social media. I recall explaining to a brand that their marketing was like standing on the roof reading out white papers.

The problem with this is that nobody listens anymore. Being number one, being the best, being the whatever, we have all heard it before. You can shout as loud as you want, we have all sorts of blockers to block you out.

Social Media allows you to have a conversation with your customers, pretty much like photo on the left. For a brand this seems to be, for some, scary.

If I go through a purchase, regardless if it’s a car, a piece of accounting software, I will do my research on-line, engage with a sales person and I make a connection with that brand via my experience. In many cases, I want to have a conversation as I educate myself on which product to purchase and I want to carry on that conversation after that purchase.

Now agree, you might not want to talk to all brands you buy from, but people still join car owner clubs and people still join software user groups. I’m off to see Star Wars on Friday and will talk to people on Facebook that have also seen it. Social Media allows you the brand to have a conversation, better still build a community of advocates who tell other people how great your product and service is. Probably get a little ahead of ourselves here, talking to your customers would be a great place to start.

We are lucky at DLA that all our customers come to us through word of mouth and recommendation. The secret to our success? Remember those old school networking events. Life today is no different. We walk in, grab a cup of tea (in America it might be coffee) and start talking to somebody.

We don’t stand at the door and shout, we are Digital Leadership Associates, everybody will look down at their shoes embarrassed and ignore you. Like we do on Social.


Advertising vs Engagement

Look at the way Facebook is now pretty much full of adverts. It seems that brands think that social media is a “pay to play” game. Rather than having conversations (or having excellent content) with your customers, people are just buying ads like they always did. We always thought that having great content could save you this spend, so I investigated this further.

How much is the Facebook Ads Market worth?

There does seem to be a lot of people who disagree with me, who don’t think great content and a conversation with customers is a great thing.

According to a new report from Borrell Associates, nearly 80 percent of local businesses have a Facebook page, and 62 percent are buying Facebook ads. It also estimates there are in excess of 2.5 million US businesses paying for ads or boosted posts on Facebook, spending on average $1,500 per year.

The report also explores social media adoption by vertical and advertiser category. For example, 94 percent of auto dealers said they had a Facebook Page, and 82 percent were buying ads. In addition, 92 percent of cable TV advertisers had a Facebook presence, and 78 percent were buying Facebook ads.

Read more in the article — Report: 2.5 million US businesses buying Facebook ads, spending $1,500 per year via @marketingland

NB: At the time of writing I don’t have the Snapchat figures.

Facebook Ads an Expert’s Opinion

I recently met up with my good friend Julia Bramble, who is always my Facebook Ads “go to” …. She said “Let’s take a wedding dress shop as an example…

Once people know that they can target people who are recently engaged with Facebook ads, it could be really tempting to just slap up a couple of ads selling dresses to a cold audience. That is what most business owners / marketers and, to be honest, some Facebook ads ‘experts’ would do.

But …. We know that people aren’t on Facebook to buy. They go to Google when they’ve got ‘buying intent’.

If our shop did happen to win any sales by doing this, it would only be by commoditising the offering and offering the lowest price. Does our wedding dress shop really want to attract customers who buy on price? Or does it want clients who appreciate the design, the materials, the personalised service, and who would buy the upsells and tell all their friends?

If our shop wants to attract the latter then it has to let the right audience know it exists, what it offers (in terms of benefits to it’s customers) how it’s different from all the rest and why that matters (to the potential customer). The best way to do this would be to run an ad to connect with the audience, and then carry on talking to those who are interested. Two ways to do this that are working well right now are:

a. to run video ads, telling a story (for example of a bride) , then retargeting those that watched the video with the next stage of the story; or

b. to run an ad offering a helpful freebie (eg a guide to choosing the best wedding dress for you) in exchange for the visitor’s email address, – then following up with a relationship-building email sequence

The goal of both processes would be to invite the bride –to-be to the store to experience the dresses for herself – whether at an open event, or exclusive appointment. This is quite a commitment of time and energy so the bride would need to be clear about what’s in it for her before agreeing. (Note: it won’t be the dress itself. It will be the feeling she gets from knowing that she looks absolutely amazing, or the pride of knowing that her dress is unlike anything any of her friends have ever worn, or the anticipation of the reaction of the visitors … and so on.)

When it comes to targeting an initial ‘cold’ audience, our shop wants to make sure that it’s not just reaching ‘recently engaged’ as I know from working with a wedding venue that people can apparently remain engaged forever. They want to make sure that they are reaching people who are motivated to making their wedding day happen in the foreseeable future – so they need to think of targeting those with interests (such as the wedding magazines) that would suggest this. They might also want to overlay a specific geographical location. My best advice would be to select several Facebook ad filters to use and test the same ad against different audiences to see which are the most responsive. They could then stop the less well-performing ads and increase the budget on those that give a good initial result.”

This is is a great example of how advertising and social can work together to gain increased results.

Final words from Julia on the future of Facebook Ads and how great storytelling and mixing in social will drive them forward …..

“The future of Facebook ads in the SME arena will be huge …. when businesses finally wake up to the fact that they are a highly-targeted communications tool and not a sales tool per se. Facebook ads and storytelling are a marketing match made in heaven!”

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