How is social media marketing different from conventional marketing communication?

In today’s world, marketers often question the effectiveness of the social media vis-à-vis conventional marketing; is social media more effective for my business? Should I spend all my money on social media than on TV or radio? Or Should I go for both? To answer these questions and increase the effectiveness of your social media campaigns, it is imperative to understand how it is different from conventional marketing communication:

  1. Two-way conversation than one-way: While brands communicates with their target audience in the conventional media, the customer also interacts with the brands in the Social media. Thus, nobody can predict how the communication will proceed as there are two sides to the communication. Thus, brands has to have a clear goal in mind and should proceed with that goal on social media. During the deviations from the planned communication, brands should be quick and consistent with the promise they stand for.

In addition, social media is an

  1. Open system vs. closed system: In conventional media, you decide who your target audience is and you communicate with them at the right time at the right channel. What the brand communicates is considered to be true as there is only one side of the story. However, in social media, everything is open and you cannot stop your non-target audience to engage with you and influence your customers. Thus, we can say that social media is a transparent medium whereas conventional marketing is an opaque system.
  2. One-on-one marketing than Mass marketing: Social media punishes the brands who target mass marketing because it has a direct or indirect impact on its users. A mass market campaign will be useless for many of the social media users and they will get irritated if such messages keeps popping up on their page. Eventually, they will stop using that platform which means decrease in attractiveness of the platform. No Facebook or Twitter can afford to be less attractive to its users. Thus, social media forces the brands to personalize their marketing efforts to their targeting audience.
  3. About you vs. about me: In conventional marketing, we discuss the brand personalities, brand image, brand associations which are all about the BRAND. However, on social media nobody wants to hear about the brand. The users already know the brand and want the brand to know them. This requires a change in the perspective and the attitude from the brands when they decide to come on social media.
  4. Brand and user-generated content vs. professional content: When you devise a marketing plan for your brand, it requires months of preparations. Professionals look into tiny details of the communication message and develop the content. The content and the communication goes through various iterations before it gets implemented. However, on social media its real time communication and you can never control or predict the content. The content is partially created by the brand and partially by the users.
  5. Bottom up strategy vs. Top down strategy: In conventional media, it is the marketers and the brands who decide what to communicate, how to communicate and to whom to communicate. Eventually, the consumer reacts to these campaigns. However, it is the customer on social media who decides what to communicate, how to communicate and the brands or the top management takes actions accordingly.

Thus, even if the two mediums appear similar, they should be approached differently to gain the maximum out of it.


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