Social Media Advertising for “18+” Brands

Nearly every brand knows they need a presence on social media to foster connections with customers and boost brand awareness, but for 18+ brands, social media advertising is a minefield.

Many social media platforms have restrictions on content with an adult or 18+ theme, such as adult toys and products, cannabis, or alcohol, making it more challenging to reap the benefits of social media.

In fact, some brands aren’t even adult in nature and still struggle with restrictions, such as lingerie brands geared toward women.[1] According to the creator of the women’s sex-positive brand PleazeMe, the algorithms and manual reviewers often struggle to differentiate between content intention. For example, a photo of breasts in a bra with sexual overtones vs. one intended to show fit for a female audience.

So, what’s an adult brand to do?

Creativity in 18+ Social Media Advertising

Facebook is one of the most difficult social media platforms for adult businesses, but there’s plenty more to choose from. Some social media platforms are inherently adult-friendly with the community guidelines, such as Twitter, Tumblr, and even Instagram (depending on context).

It can also help brands to highlight themselves and their products in more opaque ways, piquing the interest of the audience and driving them to the more overt content, like the product itself. Maybe you can’t share product photos or content surrounding its specific use, but you may be able to get away with vague references that send traffic to your less-restrictive brand website.

One useful workaround, when appropriate, is making the content more innocent by using humor, cute animals, or comics and cartoons to illustrate the messaging. This can be tricky, however, since it’s not ideal for every brand personality and needs to be in good taste.

Organic Marketing

For some brands, the best way forward may be organic marketing. Paid advertising are more likely to violate community guidelines, even with the appropriate audiences selected, and all that hard work could be erased.

The biggest benefit of organic marketing for 18+ brands is that it’s easier to work around strict guidelines on social media with unpaid content. Images, keywords, and other details aren’t as carefully monitored, giving brands more leeway to show who they are and what they do.

Of course, there’s always the risk of a user reporting a post or page, which will draw attention. Some of this can be prevented by using features like Twitter or YouTube’s age-screening features. Brands with adult or controversial products should always be prepared to have content removed, however.

Another option is influencer marketing. Influencers build their audiences over time and within a specific industry, so this niche following may be more open to their recommendations and more controversial content. It’s vital to find the right influencer for this marketing strategy to get the most out of it, however.

Influencer Marketing on OnlyFans

OnlyFans is well-known for its adult-related content, but with increasing restrictions on content and paid advertising on other platforms, it’s become a sort of digital sanctuary for adult brands to promote themselves without limitations.

As censorship grows, more brands and influencers are taking to OnlyFans to ensure their impactful messaging reaches its intended audience. And it’s not just for adult brands – everyone from professional chefs to musicians to fashion designers are creating paid OnlyFans accounts to monetize content and create an intimate community without the watchful eye of an imperfect platform algorithm.

Users must subscribe to their favorite influencers or brands on the platform to access content, but it pays off in content and a like-minded community that caters to their niche interests.

Naturally, these followers subscribe to influencers first, then discover brands, so brands may gain leverage more quickly by working with an established influencer on the platform. OnlyFans has paid out over a billion dollars to its content creators and is fully dedicated to the creator economy – adult or otherwise – and allows more creative freedom with minimal censorship.

If your brand is struggling to gain a market for an 18+ product with social media advertising, OnlyFans and its passionate community of content creators and consumers is a viable option. Then, as awareness grows, it may be possible to branch out onto other platforms with tamer content and a built-in audience of dedicated fans.

Key Takeaways

18+ social media advertising is a challenge for adult-focused brands, even if the content itself doesn’t push the limits. While there are several ways to work around the restrictions on social media platforms, finding creative approaches to controversial content, partnering with influencers, and seeking out less-restrictive platforms like Reddit and OnlyFans offer a lot of opportunity for social media marketing success.