Facebook & Twitter to Madison Avenue: Your future is social

In the run-up to the Facebook IPO a day doesn’t pass without another announcement as to how social networks are monetizing the valuable personal data banks they oversee. A boon for marketers, these ad platforms inspire further privacy concerns for users but also put greater pressure on advertisers to accept that their future will be decidedly social.

Facebook, for example, is launching a new set of premium ad units that differ from traditional advertising in two important ways. Firstly, the new ads automatically show users when their friends have already Liked the advertiser, so a social dimension in baked in. Secondly, the content of these ads comes only from posts to brands’ Facebook Pages, rather from advertising copy written independently. As such traditional advertising is being written out of the content creation process and distributed exclusively across social media channels. For Facebook’s full description of Premium ads, click here.

Facebook is not alone in its belief that recommendations from friends or family carry more weight than independent advertisers. Yesterday, Twitter announced it will be rolling out its full complement of mobile ad options. What’s more both are reaching out to Madison Avenue to entice them to invest in social ads with Facebook holding an event in New York today for 1000 ad execs to make their case.

Meanwhile aggressive newcomers like Pinterest have already garnered 21.5 million visits (1.21% of the market) nudging out well-established players like Linked In (20.1 million visits or 1.13% of the visits share not including mobile traffic), and demonstrating that the social network marketplace with remain fluid and competitive for a long time to come.

Meanwhile social aggregators continue to proliferate as well as advertisers seek to systematize and automate their growing demand for relentless content creation, curation and sharing. While Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are well-known, newcomers like Percolate make the prospect of social advertising even more attractive for brands by serving as online virtual community managers. In essence, percolate conducts a calibration workshop to target the brands content needs, distills that information down to a content “Brew” and then continuously updates the brand’s social channels with fresh content.

In short dominant and new social networks, as well as social aggregators and content distribution platforms are making an aggressive and compelling case for using social advertising to capitalize on the goldmine of personal data that users volunteer each day. And as brands continue to seek more specific targets and to become more social themselves within an increasingly crowded marketplace, the future of social branding and marketing looks very bright.

Do you think the future of marketing will be predominantly social? Or that traditional media will continue to drive the greater proportion of brand awareness and sales?