I regularly have conversations with colleagues around the use of social media. They typically go along the lines of
"can you promote xyz on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn…?"
This is typically said at the last minute and I have to then tell them that social media is an engagement channel and people are massively put off by us using it to plug our wares. I explain to them the Google approach to affiliate sites back in the day, ie if you took out the affiliate ads and the page still had merit then it had a chance of ranking ok. If the ads were the content however then Google would quite probably dump the page into the oblivion of page 115 of the SERPS.
All of which makes a TNS study published in the Guardian today quite interesting. It found that some 61% of social media users did not want to be bothered by brands whilst using social media.
Which kinda suggests that a huge number of marketers are going about things all wrong. After all, only yesterday research came out suggesting that many marketers still spend waaay to much on advertising on not enough on engagement, all of which ignores the burgeoning reality that recommendations from peers carry far more weight than any advert will.
So back to CMI to finish with an example. On our LinkedIn group recently someone asked the group how valuable membership was. Several members posted back their thoughts on how it benefitted them, and in no time at all that 'prospect' had signed up.
The message appears clear. People want you to offer value to them, they want to be engaged when they use social media, not sold at. Adwords works for Google because people are actively searching for those things that ads are selling. When people are on social media however they're generally speaking not in buying mode at all, so a vast chunk of the $2.8bn expected to be spent advertising on Facebook, or the $234 million spent on Twitter next year is surely going to be wasted applying old thinking to a new world.