Branded Content Invisible on Social Media

2015 02 05   Peter Feinstein   Social Media    

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts,” noted Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late U.S. senator from New York.

That is as true in business as it is in politics – which brings me to a column that ran this week in MediaPost’s Social Media & Marketing Daily.
I would add a five-word preface to that headline: “Billions of Ad Dollars Wasted.”

Fact: Branded content on social media is invisible. It has been from the beginning; it is today; and it will be tomorrow.

The idea of having to ratchet up the “intens-o-meter” to provoke some kind of reaction on social media confirms the waste and invisibility. Something that has visibility doesn’t need help to be seen. Only those whose message lacks effect need worry about finding ways of intensifying that message. It’s tough to do that, especially when you’re invisible, but I am certain that crazy people will jump the shark on social media in vain attempts to get noticed.

It’s not hard to understand why branded content is invisible: It is irrelevant to the conversations people are having on social media. Yes, there are hundreds of millions of eyes flipping through their news feeds, but none cares a whit about anything other than what their friends, enemies or frenemies are saying. Think of it this way: You invited everyone you knew to a Super Bowl party, and while everyone was hooting and hollering about the last great play of the game, off in the corner a party crasher whispered something about being able to save you $39 a year on shaving supplies.

The question to answer, if you intend to spend money in social media, is: How are you going to become relevant to the users’ conversations? Relevance is the only thing that matters. Intensifying an irrelevant message only leads to boomerang reactions that kill brands. (New Coke comes to mind.) Intensity doesn’t change irrelevance, it confirms it.

Only relevance works; so what are you going to do to be relevant to the people you’re attempting to reach and move?