As many social media networks have made the switch to public ownership, the pressure to advertise while simultaneously providing a pleasant user experience has become greater. Networks such as Pinterest and Instagram, both of which introduced ads late last year, thrive off of photo- and video-based interaction from their users, which makes it easy to forecast advertising success in the future, as ads blend seamlessly into their content. However, on the opposite end, Twitter promoted tweets have primarily been a bother for many users.

Pinterest

Launched in September 2013, users of the virtual scrapbooking site welcomed promoted pins with open arms. Why? Because ads are shown only in related search results and category feeds- not home feeds. Even further, ads are clearly tagged with the “Promoted Pin” logo, which, if clicked on, leads the user to further information about that advertiser. These features don’t bombard the user with unwanted ads and give a clear differentiator between paid and organic results.

Instagram

The photo-sharing site rolled out ads in late 2013, allowing advertisers to sponsor photos and/or videos that show up in a user’s feed. Instagram-ers were less than thrilled with the idea at first, but with the option to hide ads and provide feedback on those that show up on your feed, both sides have a pretty fair deal. In fact, a few brands have already experienced greater brand awareness and ad recall due to the development.

Twitter

Unfortunately, many users are already complaining about irrelevant promoted tweets: seasonal ads being posted two weeks too late, or the offering of services provided in a country thousands of miles away (even when you’ve indicated your language and country of origin in the network’s settings). What many users don’t know is that advertisers are actually able to show up anywhere and at any time- they are only charged when people follow them or interact with the promoted tweet. Users lose in this advertising scheme (at least for now) as they continue to deal with irrelevant ads.

Social advertising in 2014 is only on the rise, so whether the feedback thus far has been positive or negative, there is still plenty of time to test with different social networks and find your own success. Stay tuned as 2014 carries out its first full year of social advertising for many of these networks, and hope for a continued user-friendly (and potentially revenue-generating) experience!

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Prepare for the August 2014 shopping search transition with Google Shopping and data feed optimization:

Guide: The New Google Shopping

About Caroline Amantea

Previously serving as a media and analytics intern at Zig MarketingSchool, Caroline is currently a member of Fathom's Associate Development Program. A graduate of Kent State University with a major in advertising, she is enjoying learning all about e-commerce and consumer insights, including what drives them to make purchasing decisions. She hails from Cleveland.

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