Facebook. All the cool kids are doing it. It’s you?

For advertisers, it’s a tough market to pass up. So many people in one place at once. Marketers see something like this and it’s like their dreams have come true. He’s got that shimmering, shiny exterior that seems to say: come to us. Have numbers.

Numbers are important in a marketing campaign. You cannot manage what cannot be measured. However, in the world of Facebook, some of those numbers have gotten them into trouble. The reason is that in recent times Facebook introduced a new advertising platform. A platform that gathered numbers that not everyone felt comfortable sharing.

Numbers and demography. Demographic data tells advertisers who and where their potential customers are. When millions and millions of users register their personal information on a social site, demographic research suddenly becomes much easier than ever.

But if you don’t notify your users or give them the opportunity to opt out of the platform, there will be a huge backlash. In the space of a month, the site can go from “have you tried it yet?” to “do you remember when everyone liked it?”.

Online advertising affirms online development. We all understand this and, to some degree, we have all come to accept it. So much so that we almost don’t even realize it.

Here’s a quick thought experiment. Did you check your email this morning? Do you check it every day? It is quite a common practice. Did you know there were ads around your message? We all know they are there. Bold, pretty colors or creative bold titles. They are always close… just on the periphery of our vision.

Now, do you remember just one? Do you remember what they sold?

My guess is that you probably don’t.

Online advertising is the epitome of selling in the moment. If the pretty colors or particular text catches your eye at the moment, you can click on it. But that means the truth is that there is just as much confidence in pure momentum as there is in demographics.

Facebook is the latest in a line of platforms trying to provide the opportunity to receive targeted advertising. Isn’t that kind of them? We’re going to use your personal information to deliver targeted advertising, because we have to advertise, so it could also be for things you’ve given us hints that you really like. Oh, and we might sell your information to others, so they can share in this opportunity.

But at least they have given us the chance to receive the ads we want to see.

Wait. us ads want to see?

Is personal information used to determine likes and dislikes?

Let’s be honest. Nobody wants ads. And implementing an advertising platform and promoting it as something beneficial to a user base is not fooling anyone. And in the wake of the backlash from this platform, Facebook changed some of its policies and made it easier to sign up or opt out of the program.

So what about regular online advertising on social media like this? It is effective? Does demographics reduce drive dependency? Or are users of social sites so focused on content that advertising doesn’t even register on them?

Studies have shown that common user trends lean towards the latter option. Click through rates per page view on Facebook (and other social sites) are extremely low.

It seems that people are too busy socializing to give in to impulse clicks.

Does that mean you don’t need to consider social media in your online ad campaign?

You are welcome. While there are arguments about the staying power of Web 2.0 applications and whether we are on the brink of another bubble bursting, that is irrelevant to the current discussion.

In the here and now the community works. Ads may not, but advertising is not your only option on these networks.

The community works because users feel like you have their interests in mind, rather than just your own. The community is all about communication, and that might be the best publicity you could hope for.

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