Archive for June, 2008

Advertising and social media: a match made in heaven or hell?

My dissertation is finally over, and so is the break I had in blogging over the past few weeks.  It’s time for reflections and new insights. First of all, I have to say that I’m – mildly put – surprised over the responses I got from the potential employers, to whom I sent my job applications. I got explicitly positive feedbacks from the advertising agencies (who were my second priority), and not so much responses from the PR agencies (who were my first priority). I’m certainly not very picky at this point of my life, and welcome all I can get. Still, puzzling.

It made me to re-evaluate my originally negative attitudes to online advertising, and look into it once again.

I’m still convinced that although markets certainly are conversations, conversations are NOT markets, as many advertisers have erroneously assumed.  I’m persuaded that advertising via social media is doomed to fail, because in effect it disturbs the ongoing conversation and seldom adds value to it. If online advertising is to be successful, it must not disturb the existing conversations but rather spark them off.  That is where advertising comes in with its idol of all times: creativity.  Creatively made video advertisements have potential to become shared by millions of social media users, and trigger both online advocacy and mainstream media coverage. There is, however, danger of marketing message being lost in the frame of the advertisement. Advertising should first of all be business, and only then art. Unfortunately, often, it is the other way.

If advertising is to survive in the hostile to it jungle of social media, it must adjust to the changed perceptions. Decision to invest in mass marketing on internet is the same as investing in the snow in the winter, and customised advertising is not the answer. The best advertisements are those which make people talk, and the best speakers on the social web are, yes, bloggers.

As Brian Clark points out, it is not the quantity of people marketers should try to reach, but rather their quality. It is worth while to reach out the Long Tail, those bloggers who are faithfully interested in the certain subject or industry, and who have authenticity and popularity to trigger a fruitful online conversation about your brand.

Advertising agencies increasingly see potential with social media tools. If they do their homework, and adjust to the changed rules, they might just as well survive the digital revolution despite of the gloomy prophesies made by Al and Laura Rise in 2002 in “The fall of advertisement and the rise of PR”.

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