Recently while browsing Facebook, I came across some advertisements for cannabis and magic mushrooms. Anyone who has attempted to create ad campaigns on Facebook will know that this is against their polices.
Maybe we can learn a thing or two from the cannabis industry. Of course, we wish to play by the rules and that being said, we have the opportunity to do so and still take advantage of tapping into social media traffic.
By no means is this an easy task and still organic traffic, affiliate marketing and SEO are king. In an article written by Andy Kinsey, he states, “At CES in 2019 and previously, the [adult] industry has been basically shunned despite some huge leaps forward in tech.”
I decided to look into this more to see how they were allowed to advertise such products and why my lingerie ads are always being rejected for being too risqué.
Here is what I found:
They do not mention their product in the title: Many of us would use product titles in our ads in order to grab attention. In this case, however, they would name their ads something similar but directly associated with their product. For example, they used “tomato plants.” From my experience, I would use words such as “sexy,” “intimate,” “lust-worthy” which would always get flagged. Once I switched to “Party,” “Night life,” “Fun”, etc., I found that Facebook and other social media platforms were more willing to accept the ad.
They do not use any images of the products: In these cannabis ads, there were no pictures of the product. Instead, similar to the above, they would use an image associated with cannabis. I attempted to try this and found that out of five ads, two were approved when I used our logo or a picture of people having fun in a nightclub setting rather than of products.
There is no website link in the ads, only direct message options: You will not find a website linked to the ad but you will have the opportunity to message the company. From there, you are greeted with an automated response that takes you directly to their site. When I tried to link an ad to my online store, it was rejected. Don’t quote me on this — I think social media platforms may check the site to see if it falls under their guidelines. When I did try the messenger option, I had potential customers message us. They were then greeted with a link which pointed to our online store.
So, what can be done?
Unfortunately, there is not much we can do to engage in advertising on social media. Some may slip through the cracks, but soon after they will be removed.
While reviewing a few adult ads on Facebook, I noticed that some companies are having their staff read reviews from customers. This does give that personal touch however, I did try this and my ad was declined.
Try getting educational: When it comes to sex and sexual exploration, education comes first — because knowledge is power. In your ad copy or imagery (or even your regular feed posts), aim to promote sexual education or well-being in general. This can help your content be viewed as informational as opposed to being sexually suggestive.
Utilize Google: Just because Facebook doesn’t permit sexual wellness ads doesn’t mean your ad game is over. Google is still a great traditional resource for search results. Work with your Google Ad manager to set up ads for search and Google Shopping. And keep in mind — Google has an ad policy of its own for adult items, so be sure to carefully review the terms.
Explore other platforms with caution: More popular platforms like Snapchat and TikTok can be explored but because the majority of their users are under-18, this may not be the best source of advertising.
Harness your marketing genius: Get creative with the ways you can run your social media campaigns. As stated earlier, try branding as an educational service rather than being in the business of sexual pleasure.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the challenges of social media marketing. Although there are some uphill hikes, there is still some hope when it comes to Facebook pages, Instagram posts, YouTube videos and that wonderful share button feature. As long as our customers are talking about us, posting reviews, and happy, we are still in the social media game.
In summary, yes, adult products have obstacles when it comes to advertising. It’s all about keeping social spaces appropriate for all audiences and ages. However, you can utilize educational content for your target audience on social media to draw traffic to your website instead. Paid ad space on dating- or sex-centered websites and apps is also a great alternative. And lastly, remember there are still traditional PPC and keyword-driven adult ads you can utilize.