15 July 2019

Many are perceived as irrelevant when advertising on Facebook

Is today's advertising old-fashioned and not relevant for our preferred digital platforms? I will not answer that at this moment, but rather argue how much of the advertising does not take into account where the platforms they must liv on and can therefore be perceived as irrelevant and in worst case, as noise.

First and foremost, people do not log on social media to look for advertising. Let's use Facebook as an example. A platform used mainly for updates, entertainment and contact with friends and acquaintances. Facebook is a free sharing platform without too many rules, but it also needs revenue. And most of that money comes from selling media exposures on behalf of brands, not unlike a commercial TV channel. One of the biggest differences between social media and traditional television is that the content of television is curated by editors, producers and other professionals. Your Facebook feed, on the other hand, is strongly influenced by what you follow, what your acquaintances share and what Facebook's algorithms suspect you like. The approach to content of the two traditions could not have been more different, neither in form nor style.

Another crucial difference is how brands choose to communicate their message across the two platforms. For example, good TV advertising will mirror the medium in which it is displayed by borrowing its visual style, format understanding and storytelling. In other words, TV advertising uses a lot of resources to look like TV shows. When the advertisement is similar to the curated program that encloses it, the perceived distance between the editorial and commercial messages becomes shorter and more unclear, to the benefit of the brand behind the advertisement. And that's smart, because it makes it easier for the commercial party to lend credibility from the editorial, while not breaking too much of the flow the viewer is in watching television.

That approach is still missing for a lot of brands advertising on social media. Too many people still have a "TV mentality" for marketing in the new media. Therefore, many are perceived as irrelevant when advertising on, for example, Facebook. The mistake they often make is not to mirror the media or take into account the media habits that come with the choice of distribution platform. The result is often disruptive communication that does not match the viewer's expectation of the medium or mode the viewer is in.

By the way, relevance is one of the terms we use most when creating content strategies for customers who want to be commercially present on social media. With relevance, we do not necessarily mean that you should consider the season, a holiday or put on a temporary rainbow logo during Pride. Genuine, relevant commercial communication in social media is about the correct use of data, consideration of the platform's uniqueness and laser focus on how your commercial message fits in and makes the experience of the feed to people even better.