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I hate to break the news to you, but the social media channel is media; as such, it is a channel that is increasingly necessitating the use of advertising. Advertising is alive and well … and the social media channel can be thanked for that!

Advertising, or successfully advertising, is about reach and frequency. Of course, it’s about creative and messaging too. But if you don’t have reach or frequency, well, it’s like winking in the dark. Your message won’t be heard, let alone seen. Reaching your target audience, casting a wider net, etc., is what advertising “promises” and how and what it delivers. Ultimately, the very definition of advertising is the act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, or need; using paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, on billboards, and yes, digital properties.

Those saying that advertising is going the way of the Dodo bird, well, they might be in for a surprise – they may just look outside and see a Dodo walking around in their backyard!

It’s not hard to make the leap to understanding why the social media channel is, or should be, considered as advertising. Understood, the aspect of “paid” is inherent in advertising. However, I would challenge this type of thinking. Paid for distributing a message, or paid in terms of creating the message, still makes it advertising. Content marketing has developed as a core tactic because of the social media channel, and content, no matter how “grassroots” or professional it is developed, is still advertising. You only have to look at Facebook. The different formats of social media advertising available to brands is quite varied. You can build your brand page — that in itself is a form of advertising — where your target audience can choose to follow you, come and see what your brand is up to on a daily basis, if you desire. You can “boost” your brand post, for a nominal fee of course. You can create display advertising, targeted to your niche, which I feel is pretty “conventional” thinking. Suffice to say, all this what I term as social media advertising.

The social media channel with all its diverse properties was made for advertising.

Or did the reverse occur? Advertising has evolved the social media channel into an advertising channel, simply because of its potential and ability to reach niches and masses alike. The creative aspects of creating the messaging based on the media channel will vary, of course. But then again, they always have! You wouldn’t create a magazine ad and place it on an out-of-home billboard? (Although, I have seen that, unfortunately). Advertising, done well, delivers the appropriate type of creative for the channel. Advertising on the social media channel is no different. Posting on your business blog is advertising, isn’t it? It establishes your business as a leader, as an expert. It garners relationships and spreads the word about your business. Advertising has never been about one-way relationships. The essence of advertising is about awareness and provoking an action: “Hey look at me! I’m here. Come see me. Get to know me”. It has transcended the relationship between product and customer, brand and consumers, business and client from pure physicality to one of connectivity and viewership.

What are your thoughts on the role social media plays in advertising?