Well, I used to be the guy who insisted everyone know the difference between Social Media and the advertising that appears on such sites.

This is a crucial distinction to make since, well, advertising are ads, whether they appear in the right-hand column of your Facebook page or on a blog. The same variables that affect the effectiveness of a visual “space ad” in one medium also apply to them in another:

  • How interesting are the pictures to the audience?
  • Does the title make you want to read more? 
  • Is the offer’s target demographic a good fit for the product?
  • Is the commercial effective on a visceral, or “gut,” level if you’re trying to brand something?

Does the ad contain a distinct Call to Action if it is meant to elicit a direct response?
To put it another way, an advertisement’s status as a “social media” ad doesn’t automatically provide it with magical powers.

The finest advertising methods on social media are beginning to mix with the material that users actually want to see on these sites. Content marketing, in which advertisers make an extra effort to provide material that will be of interest to their target audience, is one extreme.

Provide visual content that your potential consumers will want to share on their own Facebook sites and news feeds. People used to send this kind of thing by e-mail around a decade ago; today they just put it on Facebook or tweet it.

I give you as an example this hilarious commercial for Poo-Pouri:

This video has gone viral, yes. Yet it’s also a commercial, adding new validity to the legendary remarks of Howard Luck Gossage: “The true reality of the matter is that nobody reads commercials. Individuals read what piques their attention, which may be an ad.

Engaging and entertaining social material is what draws people in for interactions. Occasionally, the ad is the content.

When you put the two together, you have what is known as “Native Advertising,” which is what BuzzFeed and other websites like it use to monetize their content. It’s not easy to tell the adverts from the content on their site. In fact, you’d need to actively look for it to succeed.

So how does this relate to ads on Facebook?

The distinctions between sponsored material, sponsored articles, and sponsored posts are intentionally fuzzy, and that’s a good thing. How much less effective advertisements are when they don’t pass these fuzzy line criteria.

You can see right away that this is an ad designed to elicit a quick response. And because it came up on my Facebook page, I know it’s not relevant to me because I have a full head of hair.

It’s insulting, if anything, that they believe I need this or that I’d be easily duped by a modernised version of Ron Popiel’s GLH.

It, however, is not a commercial. That was a status update from a buddy of mine that somehow ended up on my news feed. I found it intriguing enough to click through and see the clip.


First, the entrepreneur pasted a video onto her Facebook status and into my newsfeed. The video was intriguing, and the way it was “headlined” piqued my curiosity enough for me to click on it.

The second step in transforming this social media information into an ad is to publish it as a recommended post. And, of course, enticing commercial copy that compels viewers to tune in.

And this is how the distinctions between social media advertising and content begin to blur. Make something that stands on its own as a status update worthy item, then post it. The next step is to create an advertisement for it and send it to the appropriate people.

But how do I know it is effective?

Because that’s exactly what my wife did for our company, and I saw the results firsthand. Her photography has grown to include senior pictures (i.e., those taken of high school seniors in preparation for graduation), and she has recently finished and posted some fantastic sessions with some very handsome and popular seniors.

As you would expect, the images that were shared received many positive reactions fairly quickly. As I had indicated, my wife made the postings requested, and they quickly gained a large following.

Most significantly, she booked a lot of new senior portrait sessions as a result!

If the boundaries are already fuzzy, then why not take use of it? Your own content marketing, native advertising, and social media efforts will thrive if you blur those barriers. Both you and your bank account will benefit from this.