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I heard a great analogy last week, comparing certain pieces of digital advertising to junk mail being delivered through your front door. I think it’s a particularly useful way of thinking about paid ads on social media.

When the mail drops through your letter box it commands your full attention.  You have to take a physical act to do something with it (which might be throwing it in the bin of course). Not only does  junk mail waste your time, it starts to erode the excitement of the post arriving – boo!

Post box


Let’s consider someone’s social media accounts as their home – they (largely) choose what it contains, as compared to a site they go and visit like MSN, which is the same for everyone, more or less.

If you’re going to be posting something the homeowner didn’t expect, you need to make sure it’s either useful, really interesting or extremely entertaining (core pillars of any good content).  Brands need to make sure they think about the difference in where their messages are being distributed.

Don’t become the junk mail.

And in a digital world where we have the ability to test different messages, and see which get the most interest and positive sentiment, why do we see the equivalent of blanket mail landing on our doormats? Now that we’re able to see which letters get picked up, read and even shared with friends, there’s no excuse for checking which content works and then doing more of that.

Always looking to over-extend an analogy… so does this make the social networks the posties? If so then it’s interesting to see that (so far) the Instagram postie has limited how many pieces of mail to post through your letter box, and the Ello postie has left every letter you didn’t expect, back at the sorting office.

What’s the best and worst piece of unexpected content you’ve seen in your news feed?

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