Starting a new business is never easy, and when Heather C. Montgomery first launched PleazeMe, a social site devoted to giving women a comfortable and fun venue to talk about their sexual identities and desires, she anticipated a number of hurdles. Montgomery knew that battling our culture’s attitudes about sex would be an uphill battle. But one hurdle she wasn’t expecting? How difficult it would be just to advertise her website in the first place.
“I have been continually surprised at every turn how few of the normal resources that a regular business has that we can exercise,” says Montgomery, who has a background in health care marketing. Even an ad promoting an article explaining PleazeMe’s seven “sexual worlds” — they’re basically groups like Vega, for people interested in “extreme show and tell” — was universally banned by social media platforms. That included Twitter, which Montgomery notes is “supposedly the last, freest platform on the planet.”
As her team navigated the complex landscape of social media advertising, determining what was (and, more importantly, wasn’t) allowed in ads on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, they started to assemble a marketing bible, one they hoped would help them create an effective marketing plan while deftly navigating often confusing regulations. It’s a task, Montgomery reminds me, the fate of her business depends on. “If we do violate any of the terms of these agreements then we lose our method to share our mission with the world,” Montgomery says. “Social media is the cornerstone of most marketing plans.”
PleazeMe is hardly the only organization struggling to navigate the confusing landscape of social media advertising, and after over a hundred hours of research, Montgomery realized there might be some benefit from turning her private bible into a more publicly available white paper.
Even as someone who’s well versed in the field of online censorship, I still found the document a compelling read. It is rare to see the advertising policies of every major social…