Facebook logoRemember when Facebook used to be about uploading photos and poking your friends?

Its journey from social service to trying to stay relevant while balancing advertising services has been a bumpy, well-documented road thanks to privacy concerns and social controversies; the argument about uploading breastfeeding photos was a perfect example.

But despite all that it’s succeeding and is still one of the most popular websites on the planet, constantly jostling with Google for first position.

And, as of last week, Facebook has released new features to let people see what they want in their news feeds.

It’s not a change to the algorithm, but people will be able to pick and choose what they wish to see in their feeds. Does that mean marketers are going to have their campaigns blanketed out? Not according to Facebook’s News Feed Product Manager Greg Marra; little should change.

But is this an example of Facebook trying to introduce a form of content censorship? And is it trying to control what people see?

Does Facebook advertising work for you? How integral has it been in growing your website? Let me know in the comments section below.

Getting shirty

I ask because I came across a thread on an advertising subreddit recently where a member was astonished that Facebook had taken down one of his advertisements because Facebook deemed the male model in the video ‘too perfect’.

According to Facebook’s response to the ad being taken down it was wrong of the creator to try ‘promoting an idealized (sic) image’. The user says in his comments that it was just a shirtless man – with an achievable figure – getting dressed for a client’s clothing range.

A lot of other users appear to have experienced a similar problem with many lambasting Facebook’s auto moderation, and pointing hypocrisy to campaigns that promote workout supplements and other body-beautiful products.

Facebook’s policies are clear, understandable, and there for everyone to see. But an ideal body? Who’s to judge? If this Reddit user has created a lookbook for their client to showcase their clothes, then it sounds to me like they’ve been quite innovative with their strategy.

Life’s a beach

I want to contrast this with a recent campaign that caused a much larger social outcry.

Protein World’s ‘Are you beach body ready?’ caused a national outcry with Change.org petitions generating massive amounts of signatures for its removal and column inches in the UK’s most prominent media outlets.

Mass demonstrations were even organised with the advertisers themselves finding themselves heavily profiled as a lead story on the Daily Mail website.

Are You At Risk From Facebook's Prudish Publishing Policies?

 

The offensive material? Bronzed models in swimwear. Only, it isn’t offensive according to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) which ruled that the advertisement wasn’t offensive or irresponsible.

So how can a national body like ASA say that Protein World’s advertisement is fine but Facebook’s allowed to take a dim view of breastfeeding and topless torsos?

After all, I’m 99.9 per cent sure that ‘Are you beach body ready?’ wouldn’t fly on a Facebook advertisement (though I am happy to be corrected if I’m wrong and it was allowed).

But for from digital censorship, it highlights more than ever that you need to work with someone that understands not only the social landscape with your audience, but how to be creative and tailor your content to the way each network functions.

Do social networks have too much power over people’s content? Does it affect people’s creativity and marketing campaigns? Let me know below!

A consistent tone of voice

Context is key here. Not context in the sense of the advertisements, but more context in where they’re being placed. Twitter will have its own policies, for instance, as will other social networks and blogs if you want a sponsored post here.

Most social sites are largely American with policies designed to reflect broad tastes despite their global presence. The sheer numbers of people that use social networks are also able to influence policies, such is their importance to the longevity and relevance of the networks.

In context, too, this is bigger than on- and offline marketing. This is about how to take a content-based promotion and make it work across a number of channels including email, on-site, mailshots, and other marketing methods.

Each social network has its own rules about how to use it for advertising. Just think; if somebody wanted to advertise in your shop using the space on your walls you’d lay down some provisions, right?

It’s crucial to work with somebody that knows those rules and regulations when it comes to online marketing, and to have it as part of your overall marketing and creative strategy.

 

Are you beach body ready?

 

It all boils down to strategy; your creative content ventures and how you reach out to people, and it needs to be a long-term vision that complements your strengths as a business and a brand.

And, if you’re looking to attract a social audience, then you need to research and collect information about their social habits to profile them and see how you could reach them and potentially enrich their lives with what you’re offering.

That means building up an audience and interacting with them. Seeing if they’ll fill out surveys, being ethical with data collection, and much more besides.

Imagine coming up with a top creative campaign after months of hard work only to find out that it doesn’t comply with the policy of the majority of the world’s most popular social networks. That’s a lot of wasted time, money, and creative resources lost for the sake of a little bit of research.

Social media marketing is an excellent way to reach out and target the right people that will follow your brand and share its creative content. But unless you have the right long-term creative vision and strategy to complement it, then you won’t be beach body ready.

If you’d like to learn more about mixing your content with social media marketing and improving your business contact Webpresence!

(Image: Guardian/PA)