As social media continues to grow and thrive, it demonstrates its incredible value to the PR and marketing industries. Specifically, social media has become an effective platform for online advertising.
Although social media and advertising tend to fall under marketing department responsibilities, social media has proven to be a fluid platform that blurs the lines between PR and marketing, so it has become increasingly important to stay current on social media protocol, especially advertising, as a PR professional.
If you’re in need of guidance for crafting effective social ad campaigns, look no further than two of the largest social media platforms of the moment, Tumblr and Facebook. These sites provide excellent examples regarding the importance of social advertising and successful methods for handling social media’s advertising potential.
Since Tumblr’s founding in 2007, this blogging and media exchange platform has set itself apart from other popular social networks. With its approximately 300 million individual blogs, Tumblr has created tight-knit communities of likeminded users. It has also set itself apart in a more unfortunate way, however; it struggles to generate revenue. Tumblr employees have stated that CEO and Founder David Karp strongly opposes traditional marketing efforts.
Primarily for this reason, Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion in 2013. At the time of the sale, Tumblr had only $16 million left in cash in the bank. After acquiring Tumblr, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced a lofty goal to generate $100 million in revenue by the end of 2015, which she and the Tumblr sales team ultimately failed to reach. In July of this year, Karp and Mayer announced that, for the first time in its nearly ten-year history, Tumblr would embed ads on the site’s blogs. This new effort will allow users, as well as Tumblr of course, to generate money from the blogs.
Unlike Tumblr, it would appear that Facebook can’t fail in its revenue-generating ad efforts. In the first quarter of this year alone, their ad revenue increased 57 percent to $5.2 billion. This increase in revenue is partially due to their constantly evolving ads. One of their newest advertising endeavors involves live video streaming. As the service develops, Facebook will have the ability to implement ads within the streaming videos. This marks the first effort from Facebook to engage in the lucrative video advertising front, which the Wall Street Journal reports is worth $9.8 billion in the US alone.
Initial use of this service has illustrated its popularity and potential for generating revenue. In May of this year, Candace Payne, better known as the Chewbacca Mom, racked up 157.6 million views of the live stream of her reaction to a toy Chewbacca mask. Additionally, Facebook has entered into contracts totaling over $50 million with approximately 140 big name companies, brands, and celebrities to utilize this new streaming service. These partnerships will attempt to enhance the popularity of the video service. With high viewership from the service’s origins and potentially increased popularity driven by celebrities, these videos could possess the power to promote massive ad campaigns.
So what can we learn from Tumblr and Facebook? Although these are complex accounts from social media giants, they demonstrate the importance of advertising on social sites. Specifically, Tumblr’s struggles under Yahoo and their recent decisions to employ advertising exhibits the inability to sustain a brand, even a social titan like Tumblr, without revenue driven by advertising.
Facebook, on the other hand, provides a quality example of successful advertising efforts; their recent implementation of live streaming videos and partnerships with popular brands and celebrities create engaging advertising opportunities. Rather than relying on their previously successful campaigns, Facebook continues to grow and evolve, thereby creating ads that don’t feel like your average, rigid ad routine. Facebook serves as a friendly reminder to maintain active ad campaigns with periodic changes to continually create appealing ads.
When you consider your own social advertising, it does not need to be as complex as live streaming video, but it does pay to develop innovative strategy. Consider the examples set forth by Tumblr and Facebook when you create your next social ad campaign. For more information on social advertising for PR pros, check out Jennifer Zingheim Phillips’ breakdown of some great tips and trends.