Today we have a guest post from our wonderful intern Will, about the challenge digital marketers face in reaching him via Social Networking channels…..

The rise of facebook as one of the most popular methods of communication with friends (surpassing face to face contact time in many friendships) has not escaped marketing boards: facebook is obviously one of the best ways of reaching an audience, particularly young people; they cannot look away from the screen as they can when watching TV and most importantly they spend an inordinate amount of time on it. But just how effective is social media advertising? Do people really spend as much time on facebook as it is claimed?

I would say that my facebook consumption is fairly representative of people my age: although I go on it a handful of times per day, it is generally only for a minute or so; if there is nothing of interest (this is the case the vast majority of the time) then I will promptly log off. Admittedly there are some zombies who somehow spend hours perusing the endless streams of statuses, photos and videos, but I think that for a facebook advert to be effective, it needs to stand out quickly or risk being overlooked.

To examine how effective facebook advertising really is, I’m going to examine and review 3 facebook adverts that catch my eye.

The first is an (at first) compelling ad for studying law at Northumbria University. It claims that it is the “highest ranked mondern law school” in the UK. It’s simple, effective and the link leads to the course info page on the university website. It’s not asking me to like anything, or offering me slightly dodgy sounding rewards but simply showing me concise information about their product…Although I wouldn’t use it myself, it’s a good advert and a good product, although I feel that it should be targeted at older people as to my knowledge people of my generation don’t go in for distance learning courses. Sadly I feel it is completely ruined by the spelling mistake which calls into question their original claim…

Ad number 2 is for the film Contraband which is apparently now available on iTunes…this one strikes me as much more professional (correct spellings do help) but in terms of the link it is on a par with the previous one: it is clear, gives me all the info and further links I need to see (e.g. buy now) straight away and doesn’t come with any annoying extra pop ups. In terms of the market I’d say it is well placed: I do have a soft spot for action films and the fact that the page the ad is linked to has visible positive reviews helps the overall persuasive effect and does make me slightly want to watch the film. Finally the link to the trailer will (hopefully) close the deal for most people who have got this far, even if they decide to wait and buy the film on DVD for a more reasonable price.

Finally ad number 3: A compelling Sky package offer which offers a £100 M&S voucher if I were to join now online. The link is once again good, with additional details given to me such as exactly what SkyTV involves and how much a monthly subscription is. At the top and middle of the page are large ADD TO BASKET buttons and at the bottom are several reasons in large print why I should switch to or join Sky. Overall a very compelling deal, and with thought the market choice makes sense: the Sky channels appeal to me and the voucher to my parents: therefore household arguments over the deal are likely to be few and far between.

It would seem that (at last) advertisers have begun to learn that popups, requirements to access my information and demands to like things are bad and put me, the challenge, off. For me and for most people, clear concise information and a minimalist approach to web pages make for an attractively presented, and therefore much more compelling facebook pitch.

But the questions remains: would I ever ‘in real life’ have clicked on these adverts? The answer in this case is no, in fact I cannot remember ever clicking on random facebook ads and I confess I don’t really notice them…But it would seem that I am in a minority as this form of advertising is apparently extremely effective, and if ever I see an advert that interests me I certainly won’t avoid it out of principle.