The entire approach to marketing products is slowly but surely undergoing a sea change. Perhaps, the opinion of the consumer is finally seeing the light of the day when it wields some real power to influence and affect the kind of commercials, infomercials, and other advertisement that may engage their attention.
Where social media started out with humbler but nobler ancestors such as the radio and the telegraph, today’s internet behemoths such as Facebook and Twitter began on a small scale but went on to rule the roost in a very short period. I described the radio and the telegraph as ‘nobler’ because of the limited, then non-intrusive advertising they offered. But it was still early days for advertising to come into its own.
Advertising has gone on to become a full-blown industry in itself. With the exception of some pleasing instances of genuine creativity, commercials have never been much more than a vociferous call to action in the interest of its sponsor.
Even economists have generally opined that advertising is economically wasteful. In fact, most economists agree that advertising is wasteful in the following ways:
• By adding unnecessarily to costs
• By using resources inefficiently
• By promoting excessive competition
• By instigating the public to purchase goods they don’t really need
There are arguments in favor of and against advertising. What is indisputable is the nuisance value of commercials. Repetitive and irrelevant advertorial messages are being churned out faster than the products they promote. But are there more convincing statistics on the inefficacy of advertising? You bet there are: American businesses spend more than $40 billion per annum on advertising. To what purpose? Less than a quarter of 1% of visitors to a website click on an ad. Which means that one in 400 visitors will click an ad.
This background speaks to the state of social media networks. The scope of online social media platforms has been recently invaded by businesses that seem to think that their profits are where the customers are. Hugely inflated user bases of some of these eminent social media platforms serve as convenient selling points. I am yet to come across a user who has actually benefited from an ad on one of these networks. What’s more, Facebook subscribers have made it abundantly clear that no marketing materials are welcome on a platform where they go for strictly social reasons. Facebook itself prefers to keep its subscriber base than fritter it away on mindless advertising.
Each unique networking platform has its own application and purpose. What is common to all, however, is that they are instruments of interpersonal communication. Any business that chooses to ignore this fact will fail miserably in its attempt to leverage social media to advertise.