Will 2014 see the rise of user as marketer? Will the average unverified Joe or Jane start putting paid promotion behind their content?

Take a step back from the groans that ensue when people talk about their “personal brand” and instead, start with the motivations behind advertising.

Why do brands advertise? In simple definition, it’s to create awareness for their goods & services.

On Facebook and Twitter recently, I was given clear prompts to market “myself” to my friends & followers, to put paid promotion behind my content and presence to increase visibility.

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So, what’s going on? What motivated these platforms to activate me, as a user, to advertise? I’ve made no declarations as to be a “brand.” I’m not a business owner. This is me, regular “Joe.” And the prompt had no affiliation to my employer or industry.

1) The Long Tail of Brands

As platforms scale revenue, they activate the “long tail” of brands, going far beyond the Fortune 500. There are already over 18 million small and mid-sized advertisers on Facebook, and it makes sense to extend that figure to the billions of smaller user advertisers potentially contained in the general population. The above prompt was subtle enough that it was more likely to be noticed by the more power users within the community.

2) Blurred Lines

With polls showing that that one in five millennials plan to quit their day job to start their own business, the lines between brand and user are ever blurring.

Users aren’t going to consistently declare themselves as a “brand” or business owner, but the side hustle is evolving from anathema to an almost standard practice.

3) It’s All About the Stream

Much like Buzzfeed has evangelized that an experience that varies from serious to frivolous is normal for readers, the platforms have already normalized an experience that interweaves organic content and paid promotion.

It is natural that the next wave of user behavior will be we will pay to promote our posts that matter.

Here are a few examples that could become commonplace for paid promotion by our friends or followers:

So if we are truly going into the new wave of “Brand You,” how do you decide if you want to get involved?

The mantra here is to embrace change. This is one to watch. Platforms are moving away from likes and followers as your standard of reach. Think about who you’d really like to reach and why. If it’s important, why not advertise?

*This one is actually me.