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Social Network Bans Ads; Should Marketers Worry?
Today, pharmaceutical industry e-newsletter ePharm5 reported (subscriptionadcartoon.gif required) that Famster, a social networking Website for families has banned advertising.  The company made this move (subscription required to access press release) “in response to user feedback.”  Citizens of the online community decided that they did “not want to have their profiles cluttered with advertising.”  

EPharm5 suggests that “if other social networks follow suit, all the market worry about how to use social networking as a marketing tool could be moot.”

Does Famster’s move mean that other social networks will ban advertising?  Perhaps not.  Many health-focused major social networks actively solicit and publish advertising on their sites.  For example, many of Revolution Health’s services are free.  The company “makes money by selling advertising on”  While the company’s founder, Steve Case, has deep pockets it is not likely that he will turn down an opportunity to generate revenue by working with a range of advertisers.  

However, there is another issue that deserves to be raised here.  Epharm5 suggests that advertising is the primary way that marketers can work with social networks to educate the public about products, services and issues.  This is a myopic view.  Should non-profits, corporations and organizations view social networks as another means of broadcasting broad-based messages to the masses?  Absolutely not.  

There is a great opportunity for health industry stakeholders to educate the public by providing them with meaningful, customized information via social media.  As the research tells us, people are looking for straight talk about conditions, medications and other topics, not regurgitated, repurposed ad content.  Marketers need to think more flexibly.  Social networks are not just channels for advertising.  When used strategically, health organizations can use social media to have deeper relationships with their stakeholders and provide meaningful content.  

So, should marketers be worried about bans on social network advertising?  If you view advertising as the only means of reaching and communicating with your audience, yes.  If you have a more flexible strategic mindset, no.      

For more on this issue, please see my article, “Mastering Social Media,” which was published in the April 2007 edition of Pharmaceutical Executive.   

1 Comments/Trackbacks

I'm more worried about the US Military's new regulations that ban soldiers in Iraq and Afganastan from uploading content to Myface and Youtube to communicate with family members and us citizens in the home land.

It is a seriou blow to the power of social networks to overcome barriers and propaganda of any sort -- including advertising and PR, IMHO.

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