birchbox example

Example of a Birchbox

One afternoon I was casually scrolling through Pinterest looking at the feed titled “Everything.” Right away I saw the typical pins: pictures of divine-looking food recipes, colorful illustrations featuring inspirational quotes, and fashion/ beauty ideas. But then I was thrown for a curve ball when I looked a bit harder at a pin featuring items of a care package. The first thing that caught my eye was the image because the products in this “care package” were neatly arranged in rows, almost like something you’d see on Instagram (such as the overly-posted pictures from people who receive Birchbox in the mail).

Then my eyes drifted to image’s copy up top which said “The Does a Body Good Care Package.” (Side note:  what dreadful wording they used). Nonetheless the copy isn’t what riled me up…it was the brand logo I spotted, neatly placed above the words.

I was anticipating a beauty/skin care brand (like The Body Shop or Kiehl’s), but instead the brand was a bank: Wells Fargo.

The pin’s caption read: “To some college students, a square meal is a bag of chips and a soda. Make sure they eat well by sending them a Does a Body Good Care Package. For other ways to #GetCollegeReady, check out:…” (and under that in typical Pinterest typeface: “Promoted by Wells Fargo”).

wells fargo pin screenshot

Between that caption and seeing when the pin originated (2 weeks ago), one thing was clear: Wells Fargo was itchin’ for a pitchin’ to college-aged kids who recently started a new semester/school year roughly 2-4 weeks ago.

While I respect the strategic timing of Wells Fargo’s pin as it coincides with college students embarking on a new chapter away from home (although let’s be real: a lot of college students live at home, thus negating the purpose of a care package), I can’t shake this “ick” factor from seeing Wells Fargo’s Promoted Pin on a social media platform that specializes in creativity.

To me it screams “desperate” especially considering none of the items depicted have anything to with banking. C’mon, even a Wells Fargo keychain could have improved the product arrangement by tying their brand together with the care package items.

As a millennial, or whatever the trendy term for young people is, one thing that drives me bananas is when a brand, like Wells Fargo, uses a social media platform that isn’t relevant to them. It’s awkward. But then again, is this the new norm? After all, Twitter has promoted tweets. Facebook offers ads. And Instagram has rolled out posts that are, in fact, ads.

So what’s a social media user to do about all these sales pitches littering our feeds? Here’s what I recommend: breaking up with the expectation that your social media feeds will be about your “friends,” “followers,” and interests .Get used to it and  try not to feel icky about being ambushed by brands (like Wells Fargo) as you attempt to enjoy  your feed because it’s not about you anymore, it’s about them.

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