Advertising vs info on social media – the trolls rage on

If you have a local business group on one of the main social media platforms, you know you’re going to get people advertising their businesses no matter how you try to stop them.

Advertising or content on social media on HTWB

I would have told this troll precisely where to shove his business video.

It doesn’t matter how explicit you are in your “rules” section; the only way to stop the ads is to kick the advertisers out, or at least delete their blatant advertising posts until they get the message.

But not always…

Explaining the difference between advertising and social media content

There’s a guy in the UK – good friend and colleague of mine – who still has enough faith in human nature to explain the whole “social-networking-groups-are-not-free-ad-space” issue to people when they put up posts about their nail salons or plumbing services. This is in his own group which clearly states that blatant advertisements are not permitted.

Instead of just nixing the posts, however, he enters into long written discussions explaining to these advertisers what they could post about that would be useful information for readers, so underlining their expertise but in a PR sort of way, rather than “buy my stuff.” They get the promotional exposure, readers get some value.

In fairness, many advertisers apologise, but then merely post their ads in other local business groups. It’s rare that they come back with a different, editorial approach.

But at least they’re polite.

“Never mind what you think, get your other readers to give their opinions on my (advertising) video”

Recently, this poor man – the owner of the local business group – not only has been plagued by continuous streams of advertising posts, but has actually received public and private abuse because he has the audacity to say no.

One turned out to be a rather slippery troll who added barbed comments to others’ posts, bleated publicly that the group owner should “promote my business rather than everyone else’s” and eventually – a shrewd move – persuaded the group owner to invite other members to view this man’s business video to see whether they thought it was “content” or “advertising.”

“It counts as content, not advertising, because it shows facts and figures.”

Had I been the group owner I would have told this troll precisely where to shove his business video, but the good group owner obligingly asked us to view the vid and comment.

We watched. There were unsubstantiated facts and figures about this troll’s industry. And the last 25 percent of the vid consisted of captions advertising his company.

After several of us said so in comments, the troll quit that tactic – then as I understand it, gave the group owner a very hard time via private messages over an entire weekend.

“How dare you tell me what I can post in your social media group?”

Another superb example of indignant, self-righteous lunacy was a recent advertisement – er, sorry, social media post – in the same local business group. When the long-suffering group owner pointed out that it was advertising and didn’t contribute anything of use to readers unless they bought something, here are some short excerpts from the response…

“I forgot … no one can do anything on your page unless it’s completely pointless! … you need to loosen your completely stupid rules, people like to know what other companies offer, that’s what networking is all about.” (Wrong: people want to know what companies can do for them, which is rather different. Sz.)

“Please scroll through your page and have a good look. No one talks on here and no one comments unless it’s you. It’s boring and I’m surprised you still have members on here. (There are well over 1,000. Sz.) Anyway I will most certainly leave the group and hopefully other members would see sense to as well! Let go of the reins and make this page better!”

Let go of the reins? It’s HIS local business group, FFS!

Once the steam had stopped spurting out of my ears and I had spat out all the fur and feathers, I replied as follows (excerpts once again)…

“For you to write blog posts (on your own website, so you get the Google exposure, and then with an abstract shared on here and other groups with a link to your blog post, as I do) along those lines would, I’m sure, give your website and business a lot of traction WITHOUT your needing to run adverts as such.”

“The point of that, as I’m sure you know, is that by sharing your expertise on generic issues you remind us that you are an expert in your chosen business which, of course, makes us more likely to buy from you.”

“The difference between “content” and “advertising” is quite subtle and thank you – you have given me an idea for another blog post (have already written one about this problem, see here) about how to tell the difference, and use that difference creatively and productively. Watch this space.”

I hope you’re proud of me for not blasting this person into the stratosphere.

Do you agree that blatant advertising in social media is wrong?

Or is it just me, and that kindly local business group owner?

Please share your views. And next time, I will actually share some examples of advertisements masquerading as social media posts, and how to create associated, useful content instead.