Is Social Media Marketing Overpowering Traditional Marketing?

I think most would agree that social media is an easily accessible platform for opinion leaders to voice their opinions. Word of mouth marketing is becoming an ever popular trend on social media. The internet is capable of reaching more audiences than any other advertising medium including TV, radio, and print. The internet has reach, accessibility, and transparency unlike any other medium.

The most important concept of social media marketing is the relationship that organizations are able to build with their consumers. Mechanisms such as company reviews, allow customers to voice their opinions. Customers can evaluate their experience and share this experience with other customers as well as potential customers. This also allows the company to see what areas need improvement, what they should start doing, as well as what they should continue doing.

Social media marketing is very personable and engaging and to me this is exactly why it works so well. Starbucks hired a former barista to run their Twitter! There is nothing I love more than for a company to not only be present on Twitter or Instagram, but to sound human and "relatable" rather than “corporate-like”. This helps to foster trust and people love to do business with a firm that they trust.

Furthermore what I love about social media marketing versus traditional marketing is that social media marketing does not box us in categories. Social media is allowing marketers to target their audiences even more profoundly than ever because we have dismantled the stereotypes that traditional marketing has placed on us especially in terms of gender. Most traditional marketing efforts have used very rigid, restrictive labels to define their target audiences. I meet with clients on a daily basis and I get tired of Marketing Directors assuming that certain demographics are predictable, when this could not be further from the truth! There are those that argue that it is harder to find a person’s age, gender, income, education level, etc online and they would be absolutely right. However, companies are able to gather a lot more of my interests from my online activity versus any other advertising medium and these interests are what is going to help them target me compared to how old I am and how much I make.

It has been said that word of mouth marketing affects the majority of all purchase decisions. The return on investment for social media marketing is not measured by quantity of friends, followers, or likes. The end result is much like traditional marketing, did it increase your sales revenue following the social media promotions? Did it move your company? Let’s take Starbucks, for instance, back in 2010 the company decided to completely pull out of television advertising and refocus their ad dollars on digital and social media promotions. Within two years, the chain started to see same-store sales gain. Digital advertising continues to lead the way, nearly catching up with television advertising. Most of us, even while watching television, search, shop, and watch videos online. Back in 2013, marketers spent over $3 billion in word of mouth marketing, so I think it is safe to say that social media marketing is slowly starting to overpower traditional marketing.

So what does this mean for strategic communications professionals? I think they must go where their audience is. People are watching less and less live television (so commercials are having less of an impact on consumers). Television ad spends have actually decreased in 2015. Instead, many consumers are starting to watch YouTube pre-roll videos (i.e Trueview). Consumers spend an estimated two hours a day watching online videos. More than likely, a company has the customer’s undivided attention. Viewers engage 75% more than when forced to watch ads. Let’s say that the customer is not interested, because let’s face it sometimes we simply are just not interested, the company would not have to pay for a TrueView ad, if the customer chose to “skip the video” or if the customer did not watch the video in its entirety, therefore, the organization has not wasted ad dollars. Not to mention that the advertiser still has that free exposure because TrueView ads are accompanied with a “companion ad” which is free for the advertiser as well. Don’t even get me started on the targeting capabilities for Trueview ads!

So again I ask, is social media marketing overpowering traditional marketing? I think the answer is ABSOLUTELY! Social media is surpassing traditional marketing in strides. Do I think that traditional marketing will completely die out? Not any time soon, but I do think that marketing professionals should continue to follow the trend and go where their audience is. They should not pull out of traditional marketing altogether but I do think a heavy focus should be on social media marketing, I mean why waste advertising dollars?

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