How is social media marketing different from conventional marketing communications?

Social media marketing is very different from conventional marketing communications. Conventional marketing has essentially been of two types – “in your face” or “the creative ones” which have largely had to do with the products and brands. On the other hand social media marketing is all about “Engagement” with the customer. The mindset required for social media marketing is very different from that required for conventional marketing. Like the conventional marketing theories and principles, the social media marketing has its own set of best-practices. It is important to understand the difference to be able to run a successful social media campaign. Some of the key differences are listed below:

  1. Customer Engagement and not selling products: Social media marketing is not about “You”. It’s about the “Customer”. Social media marketing is not about your product or brand or sales or profits or market-share. It is only about the customers and their association with your brand.
  2. It’s about “Screening” and not “Signaling”: Conventional marketing has always been about “Signaling” – providing selective information to customer to make him feel reassured in your product or service. This has always favored the advantaged party – the marketer and created inequality. No longer though! Today, the customer is prepared to ask questions and challenge you on what you say. Screening is the new thing! In Conventional marketing the marketer had to be good at signaling. In Social media marketing the marketer has to be good at being able to withstand screening from the customer.
  3. “Enlightening” the consumer and not “Confusing” them: Conventional marketing has relied on the assumption of information asymmetry where the firms would have more information than the customers. Confusing, misguiding or withholding complete information from users might have worked for marketers in conventional forms of marketing but it doesn’t work with social media marketing. Users on social media can easily call your bluff through collaborative information-gathering and if it so happens, the consequences can be damaging.
  4. “Collaborative content” and not one-way flow of information: The content of the Social media marketing campaign is developed by both the marketer as well as the customer. It’s all about collaborative content! In contrast conventional marketing has been one-way flow of information from the marketer to the consumer.
  5. Relationship Goals and not Brand-related goals: Social media marketing should be used for achieving relationship goals with the customer rather than just the brand related goals as is the case in conventional marketing.
  6. The Topic and not the Product: In Social media marketing, the product takes a back-seat; the topic drives the customer interest and engagement. Conventional marketing has always been about the value-creation for the product.
  7. Equality and not Segmentation: Everyone on social media must be treated with equality. You cannot segment a class of people and run different campaigns for different classes. Everyone views everything.
  8. “AND” and not “OR”: While Social media marketing is different from conventional marketing, it is still an “AND” and not an “OR” to the conventional marketing campaigns. Social media marketing campaigns should help the conventional marketing mechanisms to succeed.