Last month, Brian Solis pulled together a list of strategic investment priorities for Facebook to invest in post-IPO.

Interestingly, one glaring omission was a revised model/or strategy for working with advertisers… 

I’ve touched on social media usage stats in previous posts, Pinterest’s 11m strong base, Instagram’s 30m accounts and of course, old favourites Facebook and Twitter with their 800m and 200m respective populations. 

What’s interesting here is not just the growth of the long-established networks, but also the rapidity with which newer, more niche networks are finding an audience. On the face of things, this presents enormous opportunities for advertisers, however it also poses a challenge.

If, as advertisers, we are to make the most of these new mediums, we need to get to grips with a new set of circumstances where advertising content, if we get it wrong, becomes intrusive. 

Facebook and Twitter have started to tap into their potential and now have advertising features that cater towards a more social model of advertising, including sponsored tweets and trends and as part of this shift, Facebook has created a marketing developer program, offering help, tips and rolling out a bunch of useful apps/functionality for marketers.

Facebook claims that ads with social elements are twice as effective as ads alone, because social makes a message more engaging and relevant and if this is true, then the very nature of advertising content is being called into question.

Essentially, what we are seeing is a blurring of the lines between adverts, user generated content and PR lead narrative content. If the future of advertising is going to be about social interaction, then the traditional concept of what constitutes an advert needs to be re-examined.

I’m not saying there isn’t a role for advertising as a broadcast-only medium, there clearly is. But even here, the most successful models seem to be where the advert adds value to a user experience – by giving them something additional.

This can be seen with “second screen viewing, where you watch television with a laptop/iPad/smartphone in your lap. So, if a TV advert features a call-to-action (a prompt to use the Shazam app, or go to Facebook, or YouTube etc), then you can easily engage with the richer content as the result of the TV ad’s broadcast function. 

Google’s advertising model is a similar example, where ads ranking highly against what people are searching for are designed to provide an added value service to the searcher, as well as an audience for the advertiser.

This ultimately leads me back to a theme that I’ve talked about here before, the power balance between organisations and customers has shifted irrevocably. To the point where, even when we’re paying to put content in front of them, consumers are still demanding that in doing so we add value.

That’s where the opportunity lies. If, as advertisers, we can use our resources to add value, then people will give us permission to talk to them in return.