With a myriad of avenues to advertise, market and communicate with contemporary customers, traditional and social media platforms increasingly compete for our online space, time and attention.
So what platform is more impactful for marketing agents seeking to engage and influence their customers?
Let’s first start with what distinguishes social media from traditional media.
Traditional media platforms were originally the only way a company, brand or service could market itself. Although ‘traditional media’ is indeed a large category it generally includes everything we consider as a typical advertising channel that has flashy ads and sales-heavy copy like your TV, radio, magazine or newspaper.
With the rise of the internet, digital marketing on social media allowed brands to more directly target their ‘ideal buyer’ and focus their efforts to directly target customers through online platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
How social media has changed marketing
Social media has evolved us as buyers. Our trust in advertisers, products and our willingness to trust in a brand has been a key behaviour that has been most greatly influenced by social media. With the ability to conduct direct comparisons and access reviews, our willingness to blindly ‘buy in’ to an advertiser's word has been greatly depreciated.
Marketing methods have responded to this significant shift in our buying habits and have moved away from the one-way traditional method of broad ‘blanket’ broadcasting to building personalized relationships with ‘ideal buyers’. By targeting search engines and social media via geographical location, interests and behaviours of users, smart advertisers have utilized these increasingly powerful online marketing platforms to generate trust in their product and service over time through consistent transparency.
Benefits of Social Media
When marketing is strategic and effective it becomes absolutely and relatively cheaper with a paid social media strategy. With the ability to directly target ideal buyers and track the return on social media advertisements through ‘clicks’, ‘views’ and ‘purchases’, investment in social media is often more valuable than its traditional counterpart. In real terms, CPM values or cost per thousand impressions is less than $3 for most social media outlets, compared to radio $10 and TV a substantial $28.
Through the ability to tailor and target search engine results and social media audiences, users are now able to generate new leads automatically. Social media can target prospects far more accurately than the ‘canon’ method of traditional advertising.
Contemporary consumers have become distrustful of traditional media’s flagrant statements claiming ‘brand superiority’ or superlative recommendations. Social media’s ability to use informative, creative content (podcasts, video and written forms) to cultivate trust over time is far more palatable to the skeptic consumers than the traditional marketing method of forcing opinions through repetition. In addition, the ability of social media to utilize data of an individual buyer’s online habits allows social marketers the competitive edge in fostering mutually beneficial relationships with their customer through special benefits and offers.
Traditional media is a one-way, tightly controlled and largely uncollaborative advertising platform. The one-to-many dissemination of content on traditional media sites prevents a level of interactivity that humanizes brands and ensures individual customer satisfaction.
Conversely, social media is a 2-way street, and its many-to-many relationships allows the creation of content to be far more democratic. This feature is not only positive for customers to receive peer reviews and feel important to the brand but also provides valuable feedback to the marketer about brand perception, customer desires and areas to improve.
It is inarguable that social media far outdoes traditional media in regards to the velocity of content creation, dissemination and consumption. Social media is instant and online platforms allow for rapid feedback, purchase and interaction between marketer and customer. Traditional media is disseminated over time, takes a period to be produced and transmitted and even longer time to analyze whether there is a return on the marketing investment.
Not all Medias are Made Equal
Although traditional media does indeed have its drawbacks when it comes to investment justification, feedback and accuracy the use of traditional advertisement should not be overlooked as an illegitimate avenue. It is not uncommon for infant businesses to misidentify their ‘ideal buyer’ and thereby misdirect their social media advertising strategy, running the risk of overlooking a potentially profitable section of the market. Although costly, traditional media avoids this problem by being displayed to a wider audience. Although often coming with a hefty price-tag traditional media advertising is also usually more potent in popular consciousness, everyone remembers their favourite cereal theme song or even a cartoon brand ambassador. Who doesn’t know Chester Cheetah from Cheetohs? The recommendation is to complement each form of marketing with the other, cross reference, be consistent and be open to informing your traditional media with data collected from your social outlets. Both are important components in fortifying a long term, resilient marketing strategy to remain in the forefront of your ‘ideal buyers’ mind.