Adult Site Marketing In The Mainstream

Kelly Shibari

I recently finished a conversation with someone who was trying to help their company’s social media representatives to do a better job. Where the conversation had started initially as a ROI/traffic/social media conversation, it ended with how to express marketing and posting changes to get the maximum result for the time invested.

As an industry, we’ve been relegated to advertising primarily in the adult market; industry magazines such as XBIZ World and XBIZ Premiere, men’s magazines such as Penthouse, Playboy, Hustler and Fox and local rags such as L.A. Express and Yank were where the industry commonly advertised their upcoming DVDs, appearances, etc. The occasional billboard would advertise local strip clubs – but were only allowed in areas deemed “acceptable” by local laws. The industry hasn’t had to think about what they can use for graphics – topless, full nude, and “pink” shots are commonplace. They’re not the Wall Street Journal or Time Magazine. There’s no place for non-graphic suggestiveness in adult advertising – or at least till now.

The mainstream marketplace, where we have traditionally been banned from advertising, is now open due to sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter – if it’s done right.

Now, we’ve been granted access (permission?) to advertise our wares in the general populace. The mainstream marketplace, where we have traditionally been banned from advertising, is now open due to sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter – if it’s done right.

Men’s magazines come in the mail in plastic wrapping, with the suggestive areas blacked out. Or paper wrapping. That isn’t by mistake – there was once a time when that wasn’t required, but it certainly got a lot of people in trouble, especially with the conservative crowd. These days, mailing such things to subscribers means adhering to mainstream, conservative norms – and that means covering certain things up. It allows the guy down the street to buy that girlie mag, but since it’s in a wrapper, it’s socially acceptable. Subscriptions would undoubtedly go down significantly if that wrapper did not exist.

The same thing goes for social media. Make sure that links to adult sites are listed (NSFW) – “not safe for work.” It also means “kids not allowed.” Photos posted on picture sites should be suggestive, but not graphic. The same goes for Twitter backgrounds and avatars as well – you would be narrowing your consumer base to single guys who work at jobs where graphic nudity isn’t grounds for reprimand. Presenting your product in a suggestive, but not graphic, way tells your consumer that you want them to purchase your product and/or become your product’s fan, but you also don’t want them to get fired or into an argument with a significant other, family or other outside party.

Sure – you can easily cry free speech and freedom of expression. You could say that it’s not your fault if a minor clicks on an adult link – after all, there’s a warning page on the actual website, isn’t there, to stop them? And you’d be absolutely right.

But we’re talking about marketing here. This isn’t about censorship. If you stop for a moment and consider the general adult consumer – a guy or girl, maybe a parent, definitely working somewhere to pay the bills. If you post a NSFW link without warning the potential consumer, you’re putting that person at risk of being reprimanded, judged or worse. Thinking about the potential customer/member, and making sure they know that you’re thinking of them, can be the difference between someone who quickly closes the window to your site in fear of being fired, and someone who’ll bookmark your site for future enjoyment (when they’re in the privacy of their own home, away from work).

Social media marketing for adult sites isn’t just about posting link after link after link, and badgering non-industry consumers to click on them. It isn’t that way for mainstream businesses either. Knowing how social media works and using it properly is important. You can either waste time in social media by imitating spam and not seeing results, or worse, getting your accounts deleted, or you can organize real social media strategies and implement them properly to realize real-time brand loyalty.