I’m sure we all get tired of ads, blocking us from our daily dose of internet featuring cat videos and binge watching, desperately trying to grab our attention as the countdown leads to the oh so glorious skip ad button, and shoving our internet window shopping history at our face in an attempt to make us reconsider purchasing. Even though there might be exceptions involving puppy dogs and tear-worthy moments, ads are extremely annoying, and the companies who pay to promote their product are starting to realize that too.
Rather than shoving them straight in your face the old fashioned way, brands are beginning to sneak subtle adverts into your daily internet routine, namely the usual social media scroll. While social networks like Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter still do have official sponsored posts here and there, companies are taking an alternate route, in a way that makes ads seem like it’s not even an ad.
Parody and “relatable” accounts on twitter are a big player in this new method. Rather than making it seem obvious with something like “hey guys! check out this new product…”, accounts owner only need to tweet a highly filtered image of the product, mostly sent by the brand, lying on their bedspread for that aesthetically soothing look and attach the word “goals” with a few heart eye emojis in the captions. This is obviously a very creative technique considering that it is worded and tweeted in a way that a regular user would, causing the accounts’ main audience to think that it is something relatable, acceptable, and everyone needs to have, including themselves. So, this eventually creates a reaction where the viewers or the audience of the tweet will talk about the product without the company paying for them to do so. It’s also a win-win deal for the account owners and the company because the owner gets capital and merchandise from something they (usually) do on the sides while the company gets to target a more realistic and influential audience, thus, more money.
One example of this method is the promotion of the newly-released Giambattista Valli and MAC lipstick collaboration. Though the account might not be directly paid by the corporation, often times, these account tend to copy each others’ content to maintain a likeable, relatable, and at times repetitive attitude, thus, they might be promoting a product without genuinely intending to.
Of course, this method doesn’t only go for physical merchandise, this goes for things less concrete like movies or even ideas. When a studio needs to promote their film, they might pay a twitter account to do so. Usually, the account will link the trailer and add something in the caption like “need to go see this look lit af” and a couple of that one emoji that looks like it’s in pain/whining or something along line. After a while, you’d notice their tendency to use slang and emojis in these tweets to make it seem relatable to teens and other viewers. Also, when a general idea needs to be expressed and promoted, an account might post a screenshot of a long rant written on the notes app or a tumblr text post and write something along the line of “truuuuu” with the praising emoji in the caption. Basically, what I saying is, if one intends to, social media actually can gradually cause a communist revolution.
Here’s an example on the advertisement of a new movie, Paper Towns, by a twitter parody account:
Though I realize that the past 500+ words sound like a weird corporate conspiracy, think about it, why is it that these accounts always seem like the first to have their hands on a new movie trailer or even a not-yet-released product of a company? And never leave a negative feedback on a product? Hmmmm? Hmmmmmm?
With that said, let’s move on to Instagram. The advertisement on there is a lot like twitter, even though there are the occasional “official/sponsored” ads from brands, most of the advertising is done by the users themselves. Except on Instagram, it’s often more focused on the aesthetics of the picture itself and the way the product is displayed to “sell” while Twitter is about being relatable.
Recently, an influx of self-made fashion/lifestyle “bloggers” arrived to fame, except unlike the traditional bloggers who are based around their actual blogs, these made it through their social media, specifically Instagram, with their grids of finely photographed and edited photos. Unlike actual blogs, Instagram is so much faster, with a swipe you can absorb contents that usually took bloggers multiple paragraphs and images to convey. So, with this new influx, rather than paying for more obvious and official advertisements, companies are beginning to pay these bloggers to do what they do best while wearing or using the product. In fact, Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What recently said in a Harper’s Bazaar article that bloggers have the ability to make around $500 to $100,000 a post. With a high end taste that needs a big bank account, and companies with products that need a bigger follower count, it’s no surprise that both groups are so willing to support this advertisement method.
Danielle Bernstein draws a little attention to a jacket in her Instagram post. Caption: can’t wait to have this piece in my closet | @ganni
On the other side of the internet, at Tumblr, where bloggers actually do own blogs, small companies are paying normal teens with big follower counts to promote their product. Rather than reaching for the full staged and fame factor like on Instagram, companies are paying the younger and “normal” people to include their products into their more raw and candid moments that doesn’t look like it came out of a professional photo shoot, but rather like in selfies or pictures taken by their friend on an old phone while strolling down the streets. Sometimes, the company doesn’t even have to send them the product in order for them to advertise it. Through an affiliates program, the blogger can post a hyperlink with their opinion on it and earn money every time the link is clicked or a purchase has been made through it. In return, the company gets more visitor on their website from the blogger’s followers.
The appeal of advertisement in Tumblr is that rather than having actual fame where they’re actually invited to events and parties like Instagrammers, Tumblr is famed for their introvert, “nerdy”, and relatable users. It is solely more focus on a tight knit community within the website, the genuine authentic moments they post, and their personality when it comes to followers and supporters. So, through advertisement on certain blogs, the company can reach a more authentic audience and viewership where the followers are closer knit to the blogger and more willing to support them, whether they’re posting ads for money or they actually like the product, than on the rest of the social network sites.
In this day and age, you just can’t escape social media, so this advertisement method is inevitable. Are somewhat subtle social media ads good? Depends on who you’re asking. Are they still annoying to viewers? Yes, but somewhat less than before. Sponsored posts are great way to make money for social media savvy people, or a great side jobs for others. However, in order to do that you need at least a good amount of followers and decent amount of influence on them, no? So, hop on the social media train and get famous people!
All the love.