What's the right recipe for social networks and advertising?
Several articles this week on the lack of effectiveness of advertising in social networks; here's one on eMarketer. These articles raise the question: can advertising and social networks mix? It seems like they're oil and vinegar.
I'm a fan of vinaigrette and here's a simple recipe that I use that is a bit out of the ordinary since it is equal parts oil and vinegar rather than the traditional ratio of 3:1.
3 T Olive Oil
3 T Balsamic Vinegar
1 t Dijon-style mustard
1 t Kosher salt
Oil and vinegar don't normally mix, but the secret ingredient - mustard - does something to create a smooth and harmonious mixture that doesn't separate.
Why don't oil and vinegar blend?
The molecules involved aren't designed to attach to one another because one is charged (water) and one isn't (oil). As a result they each much prefer their own community and they band together. So, if their physical properties are incompatible with one another how do emulsifiers work? They broker a truce by fitting in within both communities - usually they are a wrapper around one of the ingredients to make the mixture more compatible. In a vinaigrette the charged water molecules (Balsamic vinegar) are wrapped by the mustard to eliminate the polarity. The result is a nice salad dressing.
So, if social networks and advertising are oil and vinegar, what's the emulsifier?
Advertising is charged. The worst offenders, or those with the highest charge, are likely the direct response ads goading you to do something now. Social network advertising should not entice to you leave the the community, what's the point of that?
Marketers have a message that they'd like to circulate easily among a social network, just like Balsamic vinegar in EVOO. They need to think like a mustard and wrap them in something that is much more compatible with the non-charged social network environment. Messages should be delivered as content with relevance and even amusement so that it stays within the community and adds to the overall experience.
If the acidic nature of advertising isn't smoothed over, it will end up in isolated pools off to the side being completely ignored.