How to Tell the Difference Between Social Media and Traditional Marketing

feedbackfromemployees Social media marketing is almost taking over the traditional marketing landscape due to its cost effective nature and interactivity. Unlike traditional marketing, social media campaigns can be sculpted and toned to accommodate a specific target market with almost continuous updates as the market’s tastes and interests change and evolve. Since social media is still in its infancy stages, some consumers have a difficult time discerning between traditional versus social even though the two vehicles are light years apart. Here are a few steps you can take to determine the difference between social media versus traditional marketing.   1 Determine if you can interact with the media or advertising. Social media is interactive, whereas traditional marketing is passive. Can you respond or “talk back” to the ad? Watching television, listening to the radio or reading a newspaper, for example are all forms of traditional marketing. The reader/viewer/listener is passively reading the paper, watching TV or listening to the radio and is confronted with an ad. The only way around the advertising is to turn the channel or page. Whether you want the ad or not, you get it. However, with social media you are prompted to interact with the marketing whether it’s clicking on the ad or commenting on the post or Tweet. Is there a call to action that can be addressed immediately? For example, with social media, while checking your Facebook page you may see advertisements running along the side of your page. These ads are designed especially for your taste based on your interaction with Facebook. If you are a Cleveland Browns fan, you may see opportunities to order football bobble heads or sportswear. So while you may not be in the market for a new Cleveland Browns bobble head you are more likely to click on the ad based on your interests. With a traditional campaign there is no “immediate gratification” and the reader/viewer/listener must wait to take action, such as drive to or call the store to obtain the product.   2 Decide if the ad promotes relationship building. Traditional media will often present the product or offer, but the “interaction” ends there. When it comes to social media, the company and consumer truly interact and react off each other. Can you prompt discussion and networking through the ad? In today’s social media society, it’s all about networking and relationship building. Consumers can actively choose to follow or “like” certain businesses and may be prompted to act based on incentives or the receipt of ongoing news and information. Traditional media is simply product presentation--no networking or relationships can be built with the company or amongst consumers. Can you easily encourage friends or your network to discover the ad? With social media you may find commonality with other friends or family members as you build a relationship with the company. One example is with the site Groupon where the more interest conjured up from friends and networks, the more likely the deal will come to fruition for all. Plus social sites like Groupon can be shared on other social vehicles like Twitter and Facebook. When it comes to traditional media, there is no connectivity. If you choose to shop with a certain store or brand you can possibly sign up for a mailing list to receive coupons or other correspondence but the relationship typically stops at that point. The best way to network through traditional media is through social media or by emailing information to friends and/or cutting out ads and giving them to friends. 3 Determine if the media can be quickly customized to accommodate a specific audience. Unlike traditional media, most social media vehicles are created online, allowing for a more malleable platform. For example, social media campaigns can be tested for only a few dollars. The business may find that upon test, the offer is too weak or it should have featured a different product. Within hours the offer can be revised and tweaked, then reissued--all within the same day and for little cash outlay. However, when it comes to traditional media the cost to print or produce a new ad (print, radio or TV) it comes down to time and money to reproduce, reprint and redistribute. 4 Determine how long the ad is or can be relevant. Both social and traditional media can be relevant for numerous years.For example, famous TV or newspaper ads from the past continue to live on in the hearts and minds of fans across the globe. The only difference is that while traditional and social media can have the same creative impact, they both do not have the same lifespan accessibility. Can you conjure up the mass media ad on demand? Consider what happens during the Super Bowl and the highly anticipated advertisements that accompany the big game. While creative and engaging, the ad appears and then it may reappear again in the future when you watch TV, but you can’t access it on your own--a perfect example of traditional media. Quite the contrary, with social media ads, you can nab it on YouTube or Facebook whenever you want to watch it. You can also share the ad with friends and family members--part of social media’s relationship building appeal. Can you control what you watch? With traditional media you must watch the entire ad, even though your favorite part happens during the last two seconds. With social media you can rewind or fast forward at your whim. However this method only works with mass media (visual or audio) marketing.     Recent edits by: Dave Crosby, BR, TechFlash1