/// Ads Invading Your Twitter and Facebook Streams? Here’s Why
In July 2011, social media users began to see a mysterious new breed of messages show up in their Twitter feeds: 140-character paid ads dressed up to look (apart from tiny disclaimers) just like regular Tweets. Fast forward two years, and these Promoted Tweets—along with equivalents from Facebook and other social networks—are officially one of the fastest growing sectors of online advertising.
Does this upset you? Were your Facebook and Twitter accounts your last sacred online grounds—free of pop-ups windows and annoying animated banner ads? Is there no end to marketers invading your world?
The truth is—for better or worse—paid social media advertising isn’t going away anytime soon. After all, social networks are where the consumer lives. Facebook alone currently has a staggering 1.11 billion users, while there are 200 million active users on Twitter. In 2012, Americans spent an average of 6.5 hours a day on social media. Meanwhile, having a social media company like HootSuite, I’ve had a front-row seat on the trend.
Here are a few more reasons why inconspicuous advertising on social networks is taking off, and—just maybe—isn’t as bad as it seems:
The numbers don’t lie. More and more businesses are using Promoted Tweets and Facebook posts because they work. While traditional banner ads are now pretty much ignored (clicked on 0.2 percent of the time), Promoted Tweets show engagement of one to three percent— up to 15 times as effective.
The need for speed. Promoted social media ads are also proving to be more agile for businesses. Companies hoping to leverage this week’s viral trend can simply log into social media at any time, create a message and instantly push it to a global audience as a promoted post. There’s no need to invest thousands of dollars and weeks of time into producing a TV or print ad campaign.
Idiot-proof advertising. The other perk here is that creating and managing promoted ad campaigns on social networks is getting easier, with constant improvements being made to the platforms, No special skills or training are required to log into Twitter or Facebook, create a promoted post and target it to your audience. If you use a social media management system like HootSuite, you can even do this directly from the dashboard.
Social media ads are crowd-approved. With the viral nature of social media, the more people who find and like something, the more it will be shared and seen. So the promoted Facebook and Twitter messages you end up seeing in your private feeds have probably been vetted by friends and peers. All in all, for consumers this means fewer annoying low-quality ads and more content that’s actually worthy or interesting. (Marketing and advertising majors, take note!)
Social media ads are relevant. We’ve learned to tune ads out because even when they’re executed well, they tend to offer us things we aren’t actually interested in: sugary soft drinks, diapers, giant, gas-guzzling SUVs. With Promoted Tweets and Facebook posts, companies can drill down to microtarget users based on literally hundreds of different interests, everything from adventure travel and reptiles to Bollywood and tech start-ups. So the ads you see are for stuff you’re actually interested in.
Spending on native social media ads is forecast to nearly triple from $1.5 billion this year to $3.9 billion in 2016, according to a new report by market analysts BIA/Kelsey. Nielsen reports that three-quarters of all advertisers have jumped on the paid social media bandwagon, pulling funds out of traditional banner ads and other online channels.
In other words, love them or hate them, those Promoted Tweets in your favorite social network stream may be here to stay.
LinkedIn – Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite