How is social media marketing different from conventional marketing communications?

Social media marketing is getting more popular these days because of its cost effectiveness and interactivity. Unlike traditional marketing social media marketing is very dynamic. The campaign can be build for a very specific target group and it can reach the target group in phases. The campaign can be altered in the midway based on the response of the TG. Social media marketing has a long way to go as it is still evolving so people are finding it difficult to draw a line between social media marketing and traditional marketing. Some of the common differences between the two are given below.

  1. Interactive Vs. Dynamic

Social media is interactive where as traditional media is very passive. Watching television, listening to radio, reading newspaper is the activities where traditional marketing targets its audience. There are limited or no medium of response in such channels. I mean come on can we talk back using such mediums? The answer is of course no. That makes traditional media very passive. The only mechanism of response in traditional media is surveys. As an enterprise you place your ad in newspaper or on TV between shows and you expect the message is passed to the direct user. Nothing can be done to verify or channel the message dynamically and also the advertisements that you showcase on the sites are generic and for large masses. You usually don’t have options to target multiple smaller groups with different campaigns at a time.

Social media allows us to target different social groups at a time. The enterprise can select a TG and prepare campaigns for multiple TG’s at a time. These campaigns will reach the required TG based on the taste of the users belonging to that TG. We can already see this on some of the social media channels such as Facebook where the advertisement that we see are usually related to the posts that we read or post online. Apart from that another difference is that while in traditional marketing the outcome is that user may receive the message from the campaign and user has to wait for the time and place to take buy the product if he is influenced by the campaign. The available time may allow him to change his decision. In social media the modes are easily available on the spot for user to fulfill his gratification if he is influenced by the campaign.

  1. Relationship building

Traditional media will often present the product or offer, but the “interaction” ends there. When it comes to social media, the company and consumer truly interact and react off each other.

This again boils down to basic questions of interaction in traditional media such as can we give response to the enterprise for a given campaign? Can you prompt a discussion? Can you pass the message to the enterprise that you like its product/services? Social media marketing allows the user to answer all the questions mentioned above and this creates a process of building relationship with the clients. This is not available using the traditional media. One example is with the site Groupon where the more interest conjured up from friends and networks, the more likely the deal will come to fruition for all. Plus social sites like Groupon can be shared on other social vehicles like Twitter and Facebook. When it comes to traditional media, there is no connectivity. If you choose to shop with a certain store or brand you can possibly sign up for a mailing list to receive coupons or other correspondence but the relationship typically stops at that point. The best way to network through traditional media is through social media or by emailing information to friends and/or cutting out ads and giving them to friends.

  1. Customizable

Unlike traditional marketing campaigns social media marketing campaigns are designed for the smaller and specific TGs. They are created such that they can be interactive and reach people online and thus have more influence on the customers than the traditional media. Apart from this another benefit of social media marketing is that the campaigns can be tested very cheaply. The results are also available very quickly. This provides a large window to the enterprise to alter their campaign in order for it to be successful. Within few hours an enterprise and update/tweak the campaign to suit the customer and reissue the updated version very quickly. The time to reach market is very small here compared to traditional marketing where the enterprise had to reproduce, reprint and redistribute the campaign thereby adding huge the time and cost on the campaign.

  1. Customer’s control on the campaigns

Can you control what you watch? With traditional media you must watch the entire ad, even though your favorite part happens during the last two seconds. With social media you can rewind or fast forward at your whim. However this method only works with mass media (visual or audio) marketing.

Can you conjure up the mass media ad on demand? Consider what happens during the Super Bowl and the highly anticipated advertisements that accompany the big game. While creative and engaging, the ad appears and then it may reappear again in the future when you watch TV, but you can’t access it on your own–a perfect example of traditional media. Quite the contrary, with social media ads, you can nab it on YouTube or Facebook whenever you want to watch it. You can also share the ad with friends and family members–part of social media’s relationship building appeal.


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