I will admit that marketing runs deep in my veins, but this weekend something happened that made me think… “Have we as marketers crossed the line?”
Before I dive into my weekend marketing story, let me give a little background into MY personal marketing beliefs. I am a true believer in the inbound marketing methodology, and while I don’t think this method works as a stand-alone tactic for driving new business, the foundation of inbound marketing relies heavily on people opting in to hear what you have to say. In other words, I am not slamming marketing materials down your throat, I am providing you with super helpful content, that will in turn have you raising your hand for more.
Now that you know my marketing beliefs, let me divulge the tactic that literally had me seeing red: Facebook Messenger Ads! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Facebook Messenger, it is like a private chat room that you can have between friends/family or people you are interested in connecting with one on one. Messenger acts as a private platform allowing you to send messages that you don’t want the public reading on your Facebook wall.
I'm typically excited to get these types of notifications because it means a close friend has sent me a funny message or a family member has given me details about an upcoming gathering. I’ve even had long-lost friends from 20-30 years ago reach out to me via Messenger! So you can imagine my excitement when on Saturday I got pinged that I had a new message from someone. I opened my Messenger to see that it was from a baby clothing company whose online catalog I had been looking at a few days earlier. It was an offer to “check out our clothes!" No deals, no coupons, no subscription request…. Just a message telling me to look at their clothes!
I felt duped, and then felt angry that they were using my private platform to shove an ad down my throat! I didn’t request to be contacted, I didn’t give permission to be reached on that medium, I hadn’t even purchased anything from this company and here they are disturbing my Saturday to send me a private message to look at their clothes. I thought, is there no safe place on the Internet that I can be without advertisers leveraging the medium to their own selfish purposes? It turned me off so much that I decided right there and then, no matter how adorable that flowery romper was, I would never look at their baby clothes again. Seems harsh huh?
And you might be saying, “But Shannon, you’re a digital marketer! You should get this tactic more than anyone. Facebook Messenger isn’t private and when you downloaded the app, that was YOUR permission to be contact through Messenger by anyone. If you don’t like it, just delete it!." To those people, I might say that since the adoption of content marketing has increased, we have completely saturated the market with our “stuff.” The problem is, when everyone is throwing their stuff into the pile, the really great and super insightful information might get lost in the mix. I can see this is now starting to happen with Messenger. Pretty soon it will be saturated by advertisers and the messages will get ignored.
Am I wrong to feel this way? Has anyone else experienced this and felt something different? I am always open to hearing the other side, but I can’t just ignore my gut feeling that this might have crossed the line.