The fork in the road for social branding

Outdoor advertising is one of the oldest forms of media. It caught on with the invention of the lithograph, and was revolutionized in the late 19th century by the commercialization of colour printing.

Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a world without out-of-home advertising around every corner. Ubiquitous billboards that deliver one-way messaging to the untargeted masses.

If you have liked a brand page on Facebook, you’ve recently been exposed to a new form of advertising, not that dissimilar from traditional outdoor billboards. They are affectionately known as photo posts and are viewed principally by fans who are commuting through their news feeds.

The power of an impactful image cannot be disputed. However, what photo posts are beginning to reveal about social branding is telling. There’s a fork in the road for marketers. Brand-generated content is facing a dilemma. 

You can either choose to be the brand that treats social media marketing like hastily photoshopped posters, spitting out sub-par “billboards” that would never see the light of day before the invention of Facebook. News feed filler that comes no where close to moving the needle on brand health. But hey, at least the weekly frequency goals were met… maybe one day you’ll get around to investing in content that actually attempts to build meaningful two-way connections with consumers.


Or, you can choose to be a more human brand. A brand that lives in-the-moment, striving to create deeper, more relevant connections through emotional storytelling. Inspiring people to amplify your message.

The choice is yours.

  • It also seems like a new type of “ambulance chasing” marketing is going on under the guise of “content marketing” (isn’t all marketing content marketing?). Develop quick, “relevant” content on the fly that can ride trending memes. It’s a logical approach, but becoming predictable, if not cliche, as evidenced by new creative software tools and methods to churn out shiny new objects at greater frequency and scale. We should defer to real measurement to understand brand impact and adjust course to what is working. But my own heuristics strongly suggest we are ultimately conditioning audiences for cheap satisfaction, resulting in unprecedented ennui.

Read previous post:
CRM: To rent or to own? With social, it depends
To rent or to own? With social, it depends

Home ownership is often connected to the notion of "freedom." It's also, historically, been an investment that appreciates over time....