Social media is no longer the latest trend in advertising. It has become a mainstay, providing access to new markets and innovative methods that were impractical just a few short years ago. In fact, there are few places one can look these days without being exposed to social media marketing, even if you weren’t aware that you’d been targeted by marketing efforts.
This is because social media relies on people’s natural tendency to look at what everyone else is looking at. As a result, it is the most effective and utilized form of advertising currently available. There is no better way to get your message out to an audience than generating a virtual crowd of onlookers. Anyone who has ever been caught in unexpected gridlock traffic only to find that someone else’s car troubles or traffic violation was the cause will immediately appreciate the crowd concept. Now, just imagine every one of those situations as an ad placement opportunity.
At no other time would anyone driving be slowing down to view advertisements, but because some people slow down to see what happened, everyone else has to slow down too. As a result, they also look to see what happened. Imagine the advertising revenue that capitalizing on all of those potential ad impressions would generate, and you’ve just begun to realize the power of social media marketing exposure. The only difference is that it is on the web, and it is monetized.
Think of it like a digital circus. The more social media exposure something has, the larger the crowd it creates. Even if there wasn’t anything to see, people would still look simply because everyone else was looking. Social media is this circus, and each person’s social network is the crowd. It works so well because media companies create the buzz, which gets people to look. Everyone who looks contributes to the pool of impressions, which drive ad revenue and product placement services. Since the actual social media companies aren’t producing products, they’re dependent on this ad revenue to remain profitable. To protect the interests of their advertisers, they stop bots and automated services from creating this buzz – but they don’t stop users or companies from manually creating it, and that is what makes the circus.
On the surface manually creating buzz might seem like bad business, but actually it is anything but. The companies paying for advertisements get what they are paying for, which is exposure, and the companies generating the buzz get a return on their investment too. End users include such giants as Allstate Insurance, Nielsen, and Zagat – and there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. People want something to talk about, and these companies are giving it to them in order to sell ads. Just like sponsored posts from Guy Kawasaki, everyone knows it’s a circus, but they’re all having a good time. No one complains, and there’s nothing wrong with it. In a way, it’s just digital show business.
The difference for the buzz companies, however, is that they bear the brunt of the up-front investment. The good ones work through numerous channels of real users, and real user accounts, motivating people to click links or socially identify with whatever the flavor of the day is. With minimal reward incentive, suddenly thousands of users begin liking pages, retweeting posts, or identifying with a particular item, forming a crowd. That has a real market value, as it is guaranteed exposure for ad agencies and companies, resulting in a winning situation for everyone involved, which keeps the circus drawing crowds. For now it works great, and so long as people keep being entertained, it will keep working, because nothing draws a crowd like a crowd.