In the News: Differences Between Social Media and Traditional Media

digital media

digital mediaIn this week’s edition of “This week in the news” features stories about differences between social media and traditional media.

August, CMO survey results

First up is a new study from Christine Moorman at Duke University (based on the August survey of CMO’s from leading companies). Twice a year, Dr. Moorman publishes results from the CMO survey and, as always, findings point to several differences between social media and traditional media.

Here are the highlights from the August survey: (embedded from The cmo survey-highlights_and_insights-aug-2015 from christinemoorman)

In this article from AdAge, we read the following from the CMO study (N=288):

Social media spending now makes up an average 10.7% of marketing budgets, and will grow to 14% of budgets over the next 12 months, according to the survey. In five years, social media spending will account for 23.8% of total marketing budgets.

However, despite increasing their spending on social media, marketers are having a hard time proving the return on investment on this channel.

Thus, social media is still the ugly duckling in the marketing pond with more than 3/4 of marketing spend going to traditional media.

Major increases in social media spending come from social analytics and mobile, which are seen by respondents as their biggest failures in social media marketing.

Structural differences between social media and traditional media

Another article in the news this week, from RISE to the Top, looks at the difference between social media and traditional media from a structural standpoint.

It used to be that things were neatly divided into pretty categories:

An advertising agency created ads (and if they did media placement, they placed the ads). Some of course were better than others.

A marketing agency could do a variety of things depending on their specialty ranging from brand identity (design, slogan, etc.), perhaps creating your website, some paid advertising (overlaps a bit with an advertising firm), maybe helped with events and other ways to get the word out (such as digital fun things like search engine optimization or more traditional like direct mail). Some of course were better than others.

A public relations agency focuses on media attention. This used to be limited to pitching traditional media for articles, placement, etc. Some firms helped you put on events. Some of course were better than others.

With the introduction of social media, structural differences between social media and traditional media occurred.

Among these structural differences are:

  • Blurring between marketing, advertising, and PR. Now, everything you do mixes elements of all three
  • Free and low-cost tools let almost anyone do marketing — not well, but you can accomplish something. Strategy is the one area where it makes sense to hire professionals who will monitor what you’re doing and keep your other folks on track. What you don’t need is a big agency with high overhead charging huge fees without providing supporting metrics to justify the spend.
  • Ad hoc projects managed through consultants and freelancers
  • Fast, smart, cheap rather than slow, dumb, and expensive
  • Open relationships with agency who help YOU craft content that achieves objectives and teaches you how to optimize your impact rather than keeping the secret sauce secret
  • Respect for online media sources (bloggers) and influencers. No longer do we need high paid celebrities to drive sales, an influencer with 10K followers likely has more impact on consumer action than your celeb.

Differences between older and newer social marketing tactics

Not only do we see differences between social media and traditional media, we’re seeing differences between older social media tactics and new ones. Among the most prevalent change is increased focus on content marketing over social networking.

According to Ignite, growth slowed in all but a few social networks (particularly Pinterest and Instagram), while spending on content marketing is set to grow by almost 60%. Mobile is also dominant over desktop/ laptop devices.

Don’t fight ’em, join ’em

And, I agree with Inside Indonesia that it shouldn’t be an either or proposition between social media and traditional media, but the confluence of the two.

Social media is perceived as playing a crucial role in political activism in Indonesia, mostly because of the growing number of Facebook and Twitter users in the country. The latest figures suggest that there are 43 million Facebook users in Indonesia, the second-largest number in any country in the world. The role of social media in distributing information means that devices such as the Blackberry are crucial for political activists, like those who used Facebook to publicise the ‘cicak versus buaya’  storm and the Prita Mulyasari case.  But a key reason why these particular issues became media ‘mega-spectacles’ was because they were taken up by mainstream media.

Thus, traditional media picked up on social media trends to report.

By the same token, social media spreads broadcast and print messages from traditional media to stimulate discussion among friends.

Both social media and traditional media have a purpose. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a decision of whether to use social media or traditional media, but how to use each effectively.

Combining social media and traditional media involves more than simply assigning a person or team to handle both social media and traditional media because success factors differ significantly between each type of media. Team members need a different set of tactics and skills.

In an often cited post from a few years ago, I highlight major differences between social media and traditional media tactics.

Hiring your nephew to handle social media marketing doesn’t make any more sense than having him do your traditional media. Knowing how to run your personal Facebook page is very different from knowing how to effectively manage a brand’s page.

Increasingly, handling social media marketing requires a generalist or a team approach with individuals experienced in writing, analytics, graphic design, strategy, and management combine to craft winning social media campaigns.

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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of Hausman Marketing Letter, is a full service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media.