Social. One of Many Marketing Mediums.

Social-Media-MarketingI recently gave a presentation on Social Media Marketing to an Advertising Principles class at Washington University here in St. Louis.

As I was building my presentation, filled with nifty charts, and statistics, it hit me. These kids were raised on social media. They might know a hell of a lot more than I do about facebook and G+ and hashtags. But what they don’t yet understand is how social media is applied to marketing.  That got me thinking about all social has made possible for marketers and brands.

Social Media is a Marketing Medium. It is not the holy grail. It is not the end all. It is yet another way to reach consumers, in a targeted, engaged way.

I asked this class of very intelligent, mostly left-brained young adults to name some other marketing mediums, and their hands shot up: TV, Radio, Web Banner Ads, Billboards, POS, Even on the shelf at retail. We added others: Menu boards, websites, direct mail… the list goes on and on.  The point is that Social Media is one of many.  Granted, it’s probably the most cost effective, and it’s definitely the most accessible. Got a computer? An internet connection? You’re good to go.

Unlike advertising, you don’t need actual dollars to have a go at it. Yes, there is time involved, and yes, time is money, but I’m talking about real cash here. In advertising, experiential marketing, PR… you need a budget. Social Media is “free” – anyone can create a page or a profile and tout their wares. Here’s the drawback… because it’s free, because there are millions of people tweeting, posting, and commenting, there is much more noise than any other marketing medium. So, in order to truly stand out, ya gotta be good.  Really good.  And that, my friends, costs money. Even in social.

Case in point: the Superbowl Oreo tweet.  That didn’t just happen by chance. Oreo was paying a staff of about a dozen agency employees (copywriters, designers, etc.) to watch the Super Bowl and jump on any significant, newsworthy event.  It absolutely worked, but it was a carefully orchestrated, well planned, perfectly executed strategy. And those do not come cheap.

Social is like a news organization… To be good, you must think fast. And think smart. 24/7.

Look around at a few of those other marketing mediums (print ads, television)  - trust me, you’ll see more bad than good.  But the good ones really stand out.  The “good ones” have a successful formula of great copy, a strong call to action, and enticing design.  It stands to reason that just because you pay to put your message somewhere does not mean it’s going to work. And the same goes for social media. Just because you create a twitter account, or a blog, does not mean your customers will be coming in droves.

If you’ve got these going for you…

  1. You know your target audience
  2. You’ve got a compelling call to action
  3. Your design and copy are well crafted

… Chances are you’ll be successful within any marketing medium you choose – social included.

And remember, before you begin any new marketing campaign, you must ask yourself one question:

Do you agree with our take? Let us know in the comments below. Go ahead, you’ve got the mic…

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