Difference between social media & traditional marketing

Us vs Them – Traditional marketing is about “Us”, its more about the product that you want to tell and the entire marketing is about selling and hence target the consumer of your products. Social media is about “Them”, everyone who is associated with your product and brand and not necessarily the consumers.

Real time engagement – Traditional marketing is unidirectional. Can you respond or “talk back” to a television or newspaper ad? It’s mostly passive and the marketer cannot get any feedback of what impact it has made on the consumer till they see any change in sales, which is very reactive. However, social media is real time and you are prompted to respond immediately to your users. It provides an “instant gratification” to the users where based on user’s profile & interactions they will be promoted certain products which they can buy immediately against traditional marketing where the reader/viewer/listener must wait to take action, such as drive to or call the store to obtain the product.

Business Models – Traditional marketing was all about creating & owning content which will be pushed to the users, having full control of what is happening with campaign. In social media, you have to let the campaign manage itself. The users collaborate and generate content which will promote or demote your product and you won’t have any control on the same. Classic example of Google vs Waze, where users using Waze’s mobile app was generating data which was used by Waze in showing distance & time on maps (self learning model) whereas google was busy creating its own information by hiring cars and having them run through various routes. Another example is of Apple where it launched iphone and allowed developer community to create apps. This was it created an ecosystem where users got locked in and hence their switching cost was high.

Signalling vs Screening – Traditional marketing is all about signalling, highlighting information that is required to attract attention and it was difficult for people to know the reality of such campaign. Whereas social media marketing is all about screening, where users can dig-in and identify information that is hidden. For e.g. earlier there were huge paper ads of big sale in stores and people would go to stores with great enthusiasm and some of them didn’t really feel that that the goods were really sold on discount. However most of them went for the same and bought stuff. However on social media people can express their feeling immediately and it can impact masses. Lets take example of Flipkart billion dollar sale day which got high negative sentiments merely due to power of social media.

Cost – Social media marketing is very cheap when compared with Television or print ads. You can make much more interactive. If you get your strategy right, you can make huge impact in low cost using social media. However, you have to smartly decide which platform to use & the mode of engagement since the resource scarcity will dictate these terms.

Marketing of One – While most advertising (traditional media) is designed for mass consumption, social media involves one on one marketing. That means the message is addressed to individual users based on their profile & history. Hence, marketers need to understand their target market on each network so messages appear tailored to the individual. While you may have a broad target market, the ones on Facebook may be entirely different from the ones on YouTube and adapting your approach in each network is key to your success.


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