Social media marketing is growing fast and clearly here to stay with many bullish digital marketers predicting that it will displace traditional marketing and out-compete traditional channels for share of marketing budget.
Are the bulls right? No, not exactly.
Adoption of social media marketing across a diverse range of industries is growing. Audiences are more disparate than they used to be and consumers are not always reachable via traditional and (and more costly) channels, like television and print advertising.
However, marketers are not necessarily moving away from traditional channels. For example, coupons and promotions have proven very popular recently, due to the difficult trading conditions and highly competitive pricing environment. Brands are experimenting with different approaches to find the combinations that work best with their particular business models, customer base, and brand image. Increasingly, social media (particularly Twitter and YouTube are transforming traditionally passive mediums like television in to interactive formats. Current television programmes, interviews and even some popular ads, regularly become trending topics and can go viral across social platforms. Personally speaking, my Twitter feed about a particular programme is often more entertaining than the programme itself!
Social media offers marketers a lot. Social networks have massive and actively engaged audiences. Social marketing campaigns can be launched relatively quickly and inexpensively, and options for (relatively) precise targeting are bountiful. However, marketers are consistently discovering that social does not work in isolation. Just as digital markteters working in search and display understand just attribute visits to the last click, good social marketers won’t underestimate the value of traditional channels and their influence on social channels. There is a halo or ‘media multiplier’ effect from working across channels and there is an undeniable cache that still comes from traditional channels which can be vital for many brands’ images.
Industries with big brand names, such as cosmetics, marketers should not be asking “How do we allocate spend across channels?” but instead ask: “How do we most effectively integrate channels?” From this angle, the smartest media sellers will realise that overall spending is going to grow, and focus more on giving marketers reason to grow their budget rather than trying to maximise the piece of the pie they’re getting.