Social media operators have to change!

Social Network owners who treat anything with a commercial or brand attachment as if it is advertising are missing a trick – and treating their communities with less respect than they should.

They seem happy to spam ‘their’ communities (allowing advertisers to buy banners and buttons that at best get a CTR of 2%). Irrelevant is fine, apparently, as long as there is a dollar attached. Value for you? In a short term way, perhaps. But for your community?

A commercial rep from Flickr told me they don’t allow ‘commercial groups’ or competitions. Flickr do you know your network?

Is this commercial?

Canon Group



Possibly these?



And quite a few competitions they dont let happen. About 530,000+ in all.

Their response was to tell me there is a minimum spend for media. This isn’t just them Youtube, Myspace are all the same. I don’t want media. I am a peer-to-peer company.


They want to charge me a flat fee of £30k to have a branded page (YouTube) or £300k for a sponsored group (Flickr) whatever the purpose or time-frame. Flat fee is just plain lazy and it’s actually restricting your revenue. It’s also contrary to the way the networked world of the long tail works.

Social media is still new to 80% of brands. Both big and small. They want to dip their toe, see value, then put some chunky budget into planning for a later date. All or nothing will mean nothing. Or they are a small business that will never be able to afford that kind of money.

Advertisers; you are currently only dealing with 3% of businesses out there. People are spending less on online media because it doesn’t work and is wasteful. Right now nobody can be wasteful. Budgets will shift to us WOM folk so you better start making friends.

If you’re going to charge, and I know you’re a business, you should be more flexible in pricing. You should look at the proposed approach and the activity time period and charge me accordingly. If it’s bringing real value to your community it should be cheaper.

Hell, in some cases, maybe you should be paying us. We’re giving ‘your community’ more interesting things to do together. A good competition on Flickr will actually bring new users, ours did, and stimulate more content that you get to monetize.

Let’s be really revolutionary. After all that’s how the founding fathers envisaged these platforms. It’s the small minded, hard-nosed, margin chasing, sales reps that have got in the way and stoppeing what could have been a beautiful partnership between brand, platform and community. Don’t forget its not your community its your tools. So why not show my latest campaign proposal to a group of super users and they can score the value to the community out of ten, probably instantly rather than a 3 day turnaround, which is then taken into account in pricing.

To sum up:

A) Stop making me be an advertiser.

B) Stop making me interrupt the community.

C) I know what they want because I am one of YOUR community members. So I know what is valuable and I account for it in my thinking and planning.

D) You should even listen to me for no other reason than to make you more money.




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  • I agree. A few months back we were working on a campaign and approached YouTube for a discussion regards contra promotion and was told resolutely that: it will cost $25,000 and that’s it.

    It makes me wonder: a) who pays for this ridiculous concept of ‘social media’ advertising; and b) when social media sites will adopt social media marketing.

    I have spoken to a contact at Bebo about this and she was pretty quick to agree. in confidence.

    still, it’s about education and this needs to be approached delicately and without animosity i think.

  • Pingback: What do the users want from brands? « Social Glue()

  • The problem, as you pointed out in this article, is that they use old recipes for new media. Moreover, you can spread the blame on other about what is attached to a dollar. Look at Google: they now allow ads for online gambling and liquors. What next?

  • socialglue

    Great to hear other examples. We have had the same problem with YouTube.

    I think you couldn’t have summed it up any better than ‘when will social media sites adopt social media advertising’.

  • Jamie, what people forget, after we’ve all cuddled up to social media and social nets is that at the end of the day-people need to make money. someone needs to make some money somewhere. As soon as we can get past the altruistic notions about what social media is, the better we can down to making money. And don’t worry most social nets won’t even notice, it’s just right now, all players are ultra ultra sensitive to the notion that we might want to profit off of the platform that costs hundreds of thousands and is mantained by no less a small army…the issue at hand is that advertisers don’t know of any better way of advertising and marketing to these consumers. they’re using an antiquated means of pushing the message out and as you said and treating their communities with less respect than they should.

    • socialglue

      Hi Marc thanks for your comment.

      Totally agree people need to recognise we are still dealing with a media and therefore a media owner its just a social sort. But my gripe is that because of their antiquated model they are actually making less money by locking out 99% of businesses. Even if you forget bringing value to the community, through allowing constructive brand engagement, the business case still stands for more flexible pricing models.

      You are quite right in pointing out that the restrictions are down to resourcing issues. It still amazes me that all these networks, that brands have been desperate to get into for some while, still don’t think it might be worth scaling up. I know their focus is on the big agency accounts so my suggestion would be to get the community involved to crowd-source the solution;

      -I submit a proposal through the site
      -It’s value is graded out of 10 by a random group of individuals a ‘mean’ is taken
      -the rest of the info I have inputed in taken into account time frame etc.
      -I’m given a price (with a top level explanation) that I can accept and pay immediately or query
      -If queried it goes through the same process again

      This is just an example of how it could be solved. But if the argument is ‘sorry we don’t have the resource to cater to the demand of small to mid size campaigns’ I would say you have a hundred million folk who would be happy to help. As for the sorry we don’t allow competitions or brand groups well that’s just plain dumb look at Facebook and see if the move has increased or decrease the value of ‘their’ media.

  • Interesting. Social media as the ‘next big thing’ means that network owners see the £ signs when a brand approaches them. It’s understandable but shortsighted.

    Yes brands advertise but they also do PR – you could argue that PR is unpaid advertising but no media owners refuses to be involved with PR.

    Interested in the Flickr comments, I never realised that. Do they actively remove competitions then?
    Most of the competitions that appear under your search seem to be images of competitions flickr members have been involved in offline e.g. ‘see the photos of my cake for the prettiest wedding cake competition’ etc. not competitions they are running through flickr?

  • an interesting article from NY Times, discussing the same issue

  • socialglue

    That’s right they contact you. Say they don’t allow competitions. Ask for some money. When you don’t pay the just close it down.