Social media is not a billboard, TV spot or banner ad. Everyone knows that. And every brand will tell you that they know that. But very few act like it. Instead, they want to talk about their product. Can you blame them? Yep.

When you make the decision to be on social, you make the decision to make content. Not commercials. Why? Because you can’t hide behind your product.

A TV spot is like family; they’re in your living room whether you like it or not, and can talk about whatever they want, no matter how uncomfortable or self-serving. A social piece is like your birthday party; they’re only there because you invited them, and they better be charming or they won’t see you next year.

When clients want to make a piece all about the product, they’re selling themselves short. The product is about something bigger than itself. Dog treats are about how much you love your dog. Computers are about perpetuating your creativity/productivity and green tea is about holistic health. And it’s that larger narrative that has an impact. And no story has an impact when the product is the plot.

We get to choose who we’re friends with, people we follow and brands we like. And since no one watches commercials by choice, ads are not effective advertising. That’s why you advertise (on social) with content — the stuff that’s valuable in and of itself. When you do it right, content becomes a brand benefit, like durability or flavor are product benefits.

The brand makes the product. The product doesn’t make the content.