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A Student’s Perspective on Social Media Ads for Businesses

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Everyone who knows anything about social media marketing or even marketing knows that every company should be on social platforms and they should be using those platforms. Yet, there are still some companies, people, students, professionals, whoever, who don’t seem to get that.

I have posted before about companies that get social and why it’s important, however I wanted to really think about what I think about social media and try to take out everything that I have read and learned and solely think about my perspective as a student and how I view it without thinking about academia or social media “best practices.”

I think social media gets a bad wrap because it’s called “social media.” Think about it- social has a connotation that depicts gatherings, mindless conversations, and friendly talks about random topics. Social networks were meant to connect people and give people the ability to share their thoughts, whether those thoughts are mindless or insightful. When I think of media, I think about TV networks, technology, entertainment news on the latest celebrities and political happenings. Combine them and you get a bunch of people giving their opinions and sharing pictures of their dinners at the local sushi establishment. I get it; sometimes there may not be apparent value in social media. However, those random thoughts could be the next great business idea or may be the thoughts of all customers about a brand and the saving grace of a dying company.

I am a student at the University of Georgia. I am on every social network and I have seen an immense amount of information and uses of every different platform. When I see promoted posts, I must say that yes, I do get annoyed, but only when it has nothing to do with my likes and preferences. Getting a post about the latest deals at Delta does not seem relevant to be because I am in school and do not have time to go travel to Tahiti or Paris. When I see ads on Facebook, I don’t even notice them. Through evolution of social networks, I have conditioned my mind to ignore promoted posts, ads, sponsored ads, what have you. Of course, since I have a passion for all things marketing and social, I have reconditioned myself to be cognizant of those things, however I still have my initial reactions.

I understand the need for ads and promoted posts, however, I believe that I am nowhere near alone in my reactions. My generation has grown up on social media platforms- beginning from Xanga and MySpace. We know the platforms inside and out and have seen the evolution of the platforms over time and the increased business relevance on the platforms. It’s incredible how much we don’t notice the ads or the latest suggested post, because our brains have been conditioned to recognize content that we are not interested in and literally just skip over it without consciously knowing it.  

This is an important thought to keep in mind for businesses, social media and marketing agencies- younger people don’t notice most ads. What’s more important is that when we do notice ads and they are completely irrelevant to our lives, rather than ignore it, we get a little bit mad or frustrated, just a little bit. It has decreased our sense of “flow” and our social media experience.

So, next time you are helping a client or you want to advertise on social media, take a second look at what you are posting and think about what students/younger demographics think. Even if we are not your target market, social media is our generations’ differentiating factor. We grew up with it, we understand it, and we are a goldmine for succeeding at social. Personalize ads and use all of the capabilities available through social media tools; don’t take the easy road and just send mass ads out to anyone and everyone on Facebook. Many may not agree, but in social, you have to be careful- spamming people with paid ads may not just yield a negative return, but may also lead to some negative externalities down the road. Take your time and spend the extra dollar to truly understand your target market and only place ads where they are wanted. 

What are your thoughts on promoted posts/ads? Have you ever been on the other side as an executive and not had as much success with promoted ads?

Let me know, I would love to hear about it. 

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