You’ve probably seen it before. You’re going along minding your own business when you read a book or a blog post that says something like,
“…some ways in which you can convince the management team to reduce traditional marketing.” from Hubspot
or maybe you read this post by Scott Stratten where he notes that before questioning the ROI of social media, the ROI of other more traditional aspects of marketing should be questioned.
Or maybe you read Likeable Media like I did and had a similar feeling that there was a set up dichotomy between Social Media and traditional marketing.
Whatever the case, you’ve almost certainly encountered the idea that with the onslaught of social media, you really don’t need to do anything else. Traditional media is either dead, too costly, out of touch with the 21st century, or any number of other colorful descriptions.
Of course, the problem is that killing off everything except social media can create rather huge problems for your company.
The message you stop sending
Let’s talk about advertising first. A lot of people who are social media evangelists have a field day attacking advertising. Take, for example, this infographic called “Stop Advertising, Stop Doing.” Lots of undercurrents to that message, huh? Then of course there are the arguments about how advertising is too expensive, it can’t be tracked, it doesn’t work, blah blah blah.
Factually, advertising can be pinned down rather accurately if you know what you’re doing. Using a publication that has an audited circulation can tell you what job positions and industries you’re reaching, how many people are actually requesting the publication, and more. An effective ad tracking device will assist you in filtering leads down even further. You just have to know what you’re doing.
But let’s talk about what happens when you stop advertising.
Let’s say you’ve been advertising six times a year in the same publication for years and years. Suddenly you pull the plug completely because you’re doing the Twitters now. Let’s say you’re doing this while the economy is shaky (like it has been for the last 5 years, say). What are your competitors and customers likely to think? Even if they notice you’re doing more in social media, it’s going to be easy to think that you have made that move because you’re short on cash. Is that a good message to send out? Couldn’t that cause your social media presence to be tinged with a bit of shade?
I think so.
By the way, one might note that this exact same logic applies to other traditional marketing tactics. What if you suddenly don’t show up at a trade show you’ve gone to for years? What if you suddenly stop producing the really high quality pieces of literature your company has committed itself to in the past? It doesn’t matter what you’re doing on social media if your audience is used to finding you in these channels. If you abandon them without warning, they can only assume that the tough times got to you.
That’s letting PR get out of control in a bad way.
The possibilities for integration are endless
The really sad thing, as I’ve mentioned many times here, is that the possibilities for how to integrate traditional media and social media are almost endless. We are just at the beginning of exploring the possibilities. Television ads are leading to Facebook pages. Print ads are promoting Twitter hashtags. QR codes are leading to YouTube channels which lead to a blog. All of these tactics can be braided in different and exciting ways to create really interesting new marketing campaigns for your company and/or brand.
If we keep painting a this/that, black/white choice between traditional marketing and social media marketing, and particularly if we continue to do so while maintaining that social media has no measurable ROI, companies are going to find themselves in really big trouble, and they may not have the first clue how they got there. That might sound severe, but I believe it 100%. Everything in marketing is measurable. Everything has an ROI. If nothing you are doing seems measurable or if nothing you are doing seems to have a good ROI, social media will not be the silver bullet you’re looking for.
Of course, this is just how I see it. What’s your take on whether social media is all you need these days? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/charlieeclark/5985024438/ via Creative Commons