In this month’s roundup, we’re drawing lessons and insights from marketers’ sometimes-hapless attempts at relatability; reading about the scourge of ageism in marketing (and resulting missed opportunities for brands); contemplating Facebook’s return to its roots with a new dating service; and learning from Instagram’s bungled image policy, which had the unintended consequence of punishing body-positive creators.
Facebook Dating: Is it Hot or Not?
Facebook is returning to its roots with the launch of Facebook Dating. If you’ve ever watched the movie The Social Network, you may be familiar with the backstory. At its inception, Facebook was named FaceMash, a “hot or not”’-style website where Harvard students could rate the attractiveness of female students based on pictures posted on each dorm’s facebook—a sexist enterprise to say the least.
Fast forward years later, and now Facebook is playing matchmaker again. All of the free data users have provided them with over the years—the likes, link clicks, advertising preferences etc.—can now be used to match those users with potential love interests. Facebook users have to opt in to have a separate profile created in order to maintain their privacy and separation from the main Facebook experience. They will not be matched with their Facebook friends.
This was probably both inevitable and necessary: inevitable because of the social network’s origins and past track record of capitalizing on the vast amounts of data it has collected. Necessary because younger users are signing off and, in many cases, not joining at all. Read the full story on the Washington Post.
Old-Fashioned Thinking is Leaving Older People Out of Ad Images
This may seem unbelievable to professionals in the aesthetic industry, but consumers over the age of 50 are being ignored by the advertising world. Although they make up more than a third of both our population and workforce, they are represented in a mere 15% of images in advertising.
Additionally, only 13% of those images depicted older individuals working. Most images show them at home with a companion or health care professional. AARP has recently teamed with Getty Images to release 1,400 images of older people running businesses, being active and spending time with younger people.
One possible explanation for this is that 81% of advertising professionals in the United States are under age 55. Regardless of the reasoning, the numbers are clear: ignoring older Americans in marketing is an expensive mistake. Read the full story on the New York Times.
Your Business is Not Cool
Marketers have a juggling act to perform. They must:
- Capture their audiences’ attention
- Avoid boring them by sounding robotic or emphasizing details no one in the real world cares about
- Steer clear of talking down to consumers or making them feel like they’re being preached to
- Not be too familiar
- All while being effective and meeting their objectives
This is by no means an easy feat to accomplish. In recent years, there has been a tendency for companies to be cool or cute in their communication with customers. With the popularity of social media, this may seem like a good idea and a way to make your company relatable to a younger generation.
Not so, says one expert.
“When a brand starts trying to talk and act like a person, it inevitably comes off as a bit creepy–and that disconnect intensifies when they start to use slang or sound like a young person. Even though the person running their social media account may well be young themselves (because many marketers are young people), when coming from a brand, it rings hollow,” said Econsultancy deputy editor Rebecca Sentance.
Often, ham handed attempts to be cool and cute can get in the way of the message, when effectively communicating the message should be the point in the first place. Read the full story on Marketing Week.
♫ Undesirable…That’s What You Are. ♫ (According to Instagram.)
A recent art exhibit in London has brought attention to an Instagram policy that regulates what types of images can be used in paid promotion or advertising on its platform. The exhibit, “Epidermis,” by Sophie Harris-Taylor, was created to highlight models living with skin conditions.
Model Lex Gillies, a rosacea activist, beauty blogger, and model in Harris-Taylor’s exhibit, wanted to promote her photo on Instagram to bring attention to the issue and exhibit, but it was barred from doing so by Instagram. The explanation she received was that the ad was not running because “it uses images that excessively focus on a person’s body or body part, or depict unlikely before-and-after results.”
It seems that a policy designed to protect people from predatory advertising had the unintended result of censoring a campaign promoting a body-positive images.
After several back-and-forth emails and an inquiry from media outlet The Verge, as well as the creation of #UndesirablesofInstagram, Instagram reversed its decision and the ad was approved. But this is not the only instance of this well-meaning policy backfiring. Read the full story here. Read the full story on The Verge.