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One way you can tell if social media advertising is really something you should be considering for your virtual assistant business:  The amount of top-drawer ad agencies that have sprung up or changed focus, shifting their attention from traditional advertising to zero in on social media.

Even social media platforms themselves hire these agencies, to create ads for their clients. For example, New York-based Lotame, whose clients include Flixster and Bebo. Then there are Sometrics, Siteheart and SocialMedia.com… SocialMedia is geared specifically to social ad platforms, offering to render ads containing Twitter messages, comments from web communities, and data from your site.

Lotame boasts it “goes beyond industry norms by applying a social data layer to audience segmentation.” They call this a “zero waste” advertising solution – and their clients include Flixster and Bebo. In fact, visiting their website can give the do-it-yourself social ad creator some good clues as to what to focus on, when creating your message.  Just take note of phrases such as “interactivity over clicks,” “meaningful audience engagement”…  “The medium is the message and social ads are the solution”…  Their recent new hires include John Thomas, PhD, formerly with Crimson Hexagon, specializing in social media analytics.

In short, there’s some major money and brain power going into monetizing social media.

Further proof is provided in a Knowledge Networks May 2009 press release, which gives statistics for: “Proportion of Social Media Users Who Turn to Social Media When Making Purchase Decisions,” giving the lie to nay-sayers who insist people aren’t haunting social networks to buy.  (They aren’t – but they do!)  This particular PDF press release lists the following categories as containing anywhere from 10-24% active purchasers in these specific areas:

– Travel/travel services
– Banks/financial services
– Clothes
– Shoes
– Eating out/restaurants
– Cell/mobile phones and service
– Personal care products
– Cars/trucks
– Groceries/food
– Prescription/OTC drugs

The study was conducted through the Home Technology Monitor (TM), a service that accurately monitors technologies people use.

But there’s more… Dell markets effectively through Twitter; Facebook measures ad relevancy and appeal through real-time apps that allow users to “Like” or “Report” ads (with one-click reasons available as to why they feel negatively about a particular ad). It’s at the point where The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) took the big step of setting standards in May 2009.

Which brings us to the inescapable conclusion: No matter what your opinion, it looks as if social advertising is here to stay. How will that affect your business advertising?

Want more information about social advertising? Check out my free report: Social Media: How it Changes the Way You Advertise Online