Do Social Media and Advertising Need Each Other?

Image © Public Domain Pictures, Petr Kratochvil

In our continued quest to keep up on the current state of social media, we’ve been following quite a few people and organizations on Twitter that send out a constant stream of interesting little tidbits about social marketing.  There is so much out there these days, it is hard to keep up with it all.  But one tweet passed across my mobile device last week that grabbed my attention.

It was a link to an article entitled “Why Advertising and Social Media Need Each Other.”  As we mentioned in our post on The Media Chess Game, this is a topic near-and-dear to our hearts, so I clicked over to the original article.

The author, Tac Anderson, mentions that “good advertising is a driver for conversation, tells a story, and elicits strong reactions – whether it makes you laugh or it just gets your attention. With the rise of social media, there was a shift away from good advertising, and a focus turned towards user generated content (UGC), and placing the creation of brand engagement assets into the hands of consumers.”

As an example, he talks about the Diet Coke and Mentos video that was an internet sensation on YouTube back in 2006.  Amusingly, Mr. Anderson mentions that brands that seek to try recreate a similar phenomenon are more likely to win the “marketing lottery.”  One of my former clients knows this from personal experience, when they paid an agency for the specific task to “create a viral video.”  Some of us tried to explain to the client that you can’t create a viral video – you create a video and then hope that it goes viral.  For this particular client, sadly the video didn’t go as viral as they had hoped based on the money they spent.

The article goes on to state the author’s perception that the tide seems to be shifting back to the days of creative executions developed by trained strategic professionals designed to entertain, educate, and invite exploration.

I thought all of this was particularly interesting in light of another article I’d seen recently, with the very sensational title “Little Impact from Social Media on Sales.”  A study conducted by Forrester Research and GSI Commerce found that “social media rarely leads directly to purchases online – data indicates that less than 2% of orders were the result of shoppers coming from a social network.”  The article mentions that email and search marketing are “much more effective vehicles for turning browsers into buyers.”

This does not mean that social media does not have a place in the marketing mix – quite the contrary.  Social media is not a fad.  It’s not going away like so many Pokémon cards.  Social media is here to stay and can have a powerful, positive effect on your business.

It’s going to be most powerful, however, when combined with professionally-developed advertising to create a bridge between the brand and the consumer.  Businesses need to look beyond the mere technology of social media and instead start figuring out how to couple that technology with professional creative services to connect with their consumers and create a cultural dialog with them.

That way, you’re not just talking to your consumers.  You’re sharing information with them, inviting them to share back, and most importantly, providing them with the right incentives to make a purchase.

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