Do You Want to Advertise to Social Users or Earn Their Trust?

March 30, 2012By

Social media usage is on the rise.

As a result, marketers are looking to somehow penetrate social networks in an effort to win the attention of users.

Is this a strategy that can be profitable?

Probably so.

That’s what companies are betting on it seems. Digital research company, eMarketer, estimates that social network ad spending in the US is expected to grow 43%. That’s a huge increase. There are serious dollars being invested in advertising.

My question is:

Would you rather advertise to social media users or earn their trust with an opt-in strategy?

Let’s discuss…

Earning Trust and Opt-In

Social networks are growing their audiences. Millions of people around the world use the networks to connect with friends, family and peers. The networks’ biggest appeal is offering connection to people and content.

What businesses want is the ability to market to the groups of people using these networks. The traditional method of achieving this has been advertising. The method has worked with radio, TV and with print and with digital as well. Google rules the online world with its search advertising platform.

Advertising works and it will probably work to some degree with social media as well.

But is there a better way to access the people using social networks?

If you use social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn you likely notice quite a few of the content shared on the sites is actually pointing off the social network to other websites. These sites have people creating content that is interesting. It could be a photo published on a site. It could be a news story. It could even be a blog post.

Let’s back up a quick step.

What do people do on social networks?

On Facebook, people share their thoughts with friends and followers. People feel satisfaction when they publish an update and receive comments and likes. It makes them feel wanted and important. People also use photos to stay in touch with friends and family. Facebook is great for sharing photos.

Twitter is about connections too. People share thoughts and like receiving mentions.

Other social networks are much the same. People get satisfaction from sharing thoughts and ideas and getting a response from others.

What is the best way to reach this audience while they’re sharing?

Is the best strategy to interrupt them with advertisements?

It might be. People have to discover your brand somehow. They might not yet know that they need your product or service.

But there is another way.

Thinking back about the sharing aspect of social networks…

People share content. They surf the Web and share items they find interesting.

Something that is much more valuable as a business is to be the content that is being shared.

It is much more powerful to have people discover your brand on their own. Creating content – with something such as a blog – can be a better strategy than advertising when it comes to social media. When people discover something it is more powerful than when they are interrupted with information.

You can be the content that is being shared. It is difficult to do, but the businesses that do it well succeed and can eliminate advertising from their budgets. The return appears to be greater with inbound marketing.

If you are willing to do the work you can earn the trust of social media users by becoming a content creator. You can share your information and have people opt-in to your updates. It’s much more appealing that paying the social networks for their advertising space.

But it’s not for everyone.

It’s a long-term strategy involving hard work.

If that’s not for you. Advertising will always be available.