Facebook and Twitter have brands eagerly pursuing new ways to reach consumers. But while this new social space might be ripe for innovative ideas, a lot of these emerging technology companies are making one big error. They’re forgetting the basics of advertising, and it’s too their own detriment.
Advertisers and brands want to engage people on the new platforms springing up online, but some of the solutions springing up in social have nothing to do with the way media is normally sold. Some companies are trying to invent completely new systems for selling media, while others are causing friction between agency and brand. Paid and earned media are rubbing up against each other in uncomfortable ways, and the main objectives of marketing are getting lost.
The most common mistake made with innovative social advertising today is that it disregards traditional objectives. These end goals – building awareness, engaging consumers, and driving purchases – never change, and every advertising solution must deliver. Yes, you can hit me with a hashtag like #oldman for mentioning traditional media, but the truth is that this rule will never change. Truly innovative advertising is just finding a way to achieve these goals in a new method or environment.
When advertisers look at ways of expanding into social, they want it to fit within the way they already purchase media. Advertisers still want guaranteed impressions or clicks on a CPM or CPC basis, but they want to do it in this exciting new environment where consumers are sharing just about everything. If the ad strategies requires approval from multiple departments and a lot of jumping through hoops, it’s not going to last. Truly innovative social advertising is about morphing your offering into the correct socket to get the least friction from the buyer.
And while tech/digital media providers can overcomplicate their offerings in the drive to innovate, they’re not the only ones. Brands themselves are trying to throw the rules out the window and cram too many objectives into their social campaigns, mistaking new media for new advertising rules.
Just as innovative advertising needs to achieve the same end goals, it can only reach one goal at a time. Some brand marketers hear about the interactive potential of social and get ahead of themselves. They probably say, “I’ll drive a ton of traffic to my landing page and make the audience watch this video, then I’ll get them to retweet and share it with followers and friends, then enter a contest to win an iPad.” It’s the same mistake as before, but with a twist. Social is cutting edge, but asking a single campaign to satisfy multiple primary objectives leaves you with a houseboat. It’s not the best house, and it’s not the best boat.
Think about it. The best practices in traditional media only ask you to do one thing and perform one objective, whether it’s call a number, click, watch, or make a brand association. You can run multiple campaigns with different objectives at the same time, yes, but each campaign should have one goal. If consumers spread the word and complete multiple steps, take that earned media as a bonus.
If earned media – sharing or increasing fans and followers – is the objective, great. But don’t undercut it by asking consumers to do multiple tasks and then share the ad with friends. Brand marketers need to understand the social capital exchange.
Even when the technology is innovative and cool, none of the old rules of advertising fly out the window. Make your offering fit into existing machinery and methodologies. Deliver on traditional measures and report on the bonus actions that occur. You need to show the value before making the new and different the only way your solution can be accessed. Remove the friction, give people a way to quickly and easily get into social at scale in a way that has less risk in a world where you can buy it and then prove that it’s working. At the end of the day, innovation is the foundation for gaining traction and share in any market, but the most successful organizations will figure out how to deliver it with a strong recognition of existing standards.
Andy Scott is evp of business development and sales at 140Proof, a social media ad network focused on Twitter clients. Follow him @andyscott999.