And yet Facebook seems undaunted. Its latest move is to ask users for nude photos—yes, you read that right—so Facebook can upload the images into their database and continually scan their platforms to make sure your backside never gets posted as “revenge porn.” (This is something Facebook first experimented with in 2017, starting with a pilot program in Australia.)
You can’t make this up, but it’s real, and it begs more than a few questions. Let’s assume the average co-worker or family member doesn’t already possess carnal knowledge of you and, therefore, could only identify you during a moment of coital bliss by your face. If that’s the case, why does Facebook need anything more than an image of your face?!?
Marketers like to channel Marshall McLuhan and say, The medium is the message. And that’s true. So what message are we sending when our brands parade around Facebook, fuel the hate machine of Twitter or support the erosion of teen girls’ self-esteem on Instagram?
We need new platforms, better content and stronger online communities if we want social media to be a lasting alternative to traditional media.
Advertising should be fun
This is perhaps the simplest and most important lesson. Nobody wants to hear a brand say “We’re with you during these unprecedented times” ever again. We want to be entertained, distracted and engaged.
Your ads need to be more interesting and entertaining than the content that surrounds them. That’s been true since there were only three TV channels and it’s even more true today, but many marketers have lost sight of an insight that should be common sense.
Consider the context.
News media ratings depend on keeping us in a constant state of fear. That works in the short term but after a while, viewers’ cortisol levels can’t take it anymore and they tune out. TV ratings have plummeted, especially among the younger viewers that advertisers crave. Similarly, magazines are near extinction because the click-bait game got old.
This all gets at the thing media mavens keep getting wrong. Streaming is up because it’s driven by entertainment, not because it’s ad-free. The vast majority of consumers don’t mind marketing, and they generally love their favorite brands—they just can’t stand bad marketing.
Why else do Super Bowl ads, holiday ads, real-world activations and memes get shared again and again? Because they’re fun.
So leave behind the pandering peddlers of paranoia and the carpet-baggers of corporate conscience that made last year so boring, open your aperture to optimism and laugh a little.
And as we begin 2022, let’s find a glass that’s half-full—and hope someone poured tequila in there.