The heavyweights of social media are continuing to follow suit, with news this week that the third horse in the race is set to introduce it’s own version of promoted content. No real surprises here then.
In a similar vein to Facebook’s sponsored posts, Google+ has announced the first two brands set to benefit from new +Posts; Ritz crackers, British chocolate giant Cadbury and car manufacturer Toyota. The functionality allows firms to take their status updates on the network and turn them into display ads which can then be distributed to run across more than 2million Google sites in the Google Display Network.
So what’s the big deal? Well, in many ways, as we already quipped above, this is really a case of keeping up appearances. That said, with the aforementioned pioneering brands reporting 50% expansion rates on +Posts this concept certainly seems to do the intended job, namely increasing the visibility of updates, in turn helping build engagement levels. It’s also another sign of how much more monetary investment is going to be required in order for companies to fully exploit their social outlets.
It’s strange to think of how differently these platforms worked just a few years ago. Of course with exponential increases in membership over that time there obviously more and more ideas need to be rolled out in order to guarantee people get to see branded content. The level of ‘surface noise’ on the likes of Facebook and Google+ means that simply posting content is becoming less and less effective, but then there’s a problem in terms of the public’s perception which all networks need to address if the ongoing emphasis on sponsored and paid for content is going to actually prove as effective as it should.
Like any kind of marketing in an age when the public is not only media literate, but fluent, anything seen to be a form of advertising is regularly treated with some suspicion. Of course social media users do react in the desired manner to paid for content when it’s well placed and interesting enough, but this peters into insignificance when it comes to the influence trusted experts, acquaintances and friends have with their online activity. In short then, whilst the networks themselves have a clear and understandable desire to monetise as many aspects of their offering as possible, firms looking to succeed in digital need to think very carefully about when and how this type of activity occurs.