The term native advertising gets bandied around every now and then. Its popularity has been spurred on by the ad format’s appropriate fit in the appropriate setting and context.
I’ve seen native advertising defined as: “Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.” — Share Through. That’s a pretty good definition.
What we at Reqvu have experienced on Facebook by helping our customers harness social word of mouth, however, is that while most brands and businesses can easily copy the form and function part of the definition, where they fall down is in their ability to mimic the user experience of social.
Whether it’s from a lack of understanding of the friend-to-friend tone of conversation on Facebook, or an inability to let go of a corporate voice, or change creative ads to authentic conversations… I just can’t think of many great examples of really well-done native advertisements on Facebook, especially on mobile where some 70 percent of all Facebook users get their social fix. In fact, more often than not, we’re presented with poorly targeted software/app purchase recommendations.
So if mimicking natural user behavior on Facebook is so tough, then why don’t businesses simply let Facebook users (their customers) do it for them? In a world where people take photos of their food, in branded clothes, at colorful events, inside of recognizable restaurants, malls, nightclubs, and businesses in greater and greater numbers than ever before, and share them to their social graph immediately, why are marketers failing to harness and drive this honest-to-goodness native content to their advantage?
So if the user behavior is already popular, and growing rapidly … the only thing that is missing is how to change native content into a native ad. Basically align the motive for the user making the post to that of an advertiser (promotional purposes) and that’s where incentives and creative tools play a big role in aiding the native to do a great job of it.
Facebook friends don’t consider your movie recommendations, favorite music choices and selfies of your cute, new jacket as ads. And that’s what makes them the perfect native ads, because they’re made by the natives themselves in their own unique and personal voices. This is true social word of mouth advertising.
When a friend makes a post of this nature, as a user, I often acknowledge or even truly “like” the post and will also often comment on them, taking advantage of the even further engagement and reach advantage that users updates have over fan page posts. Consider that you’ve already opted in to see your friend’s posts and don’t need to seek out a business’ Fan page, and should that Friend be so savvy and kind as to tag the brand or businesses fan page in their post … well you’ve pretty much got the perfect Facebook ad … natively.
Timothy Brown is a social media marketing veteran developer of multiple apps and web properties covered in publications such as Time, Forbes, GQ and Wired. Presently he is the co-founder of Reqvu, Inc. a company that specializes in social word of mouth.
Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.