What is social media?
That’s something that many people–from marketing to advertising and everywhere in between–have argued about. Is it marketing? Is it advertising? Is it something else entirely?
While the answer to that question always seems to be evolving, the best way of answering that question might be to say that it’s not marketing or advertising: it’s social media.
Social media has similar goals to advertising, but different processes for getting there. George Clooney and Howard Stern are both entertainers, but both produce extremely different methods of entertainment. The former is refined and takes months or years to produce his work; the latter is rough around the edges and is well-known for being an improviser.
Much in the same way, advertising and social media are both ways to get the word out about your company and maybe even improve sales. Whereas advertising is all about long, perfect projects, social media is all about short, consistent publication. One is George Clooney, and one is Howard Stern. That’s not to say that there isn’t any overlap, but advertising and social media are both very different ways of accomplishing (mostly) similar goals.
So what about marketing? Social media is different from marketing in a lot of ways, but similar in many others. It’s a unique way to connect with your audience. It’s a great tool for two-way interaction. It’s excellent at promoting brand awareness. And above all, social media is a great way to communicate the value of your product or brand. Social media may not have much in common process-wise with advertising, but if you ask us, it has a lot in common with marketing.
Which is where we get to an important point: social media works best as an arm of your marketing department, and maybe even as a brother or cousin of your advertising efforts. Is it possible to have success in marketing or social media or advertising independent of one another? Yes–but they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Your brand is a sponge, and the more unique data points you can put out there that tell your company’s story in different ways, the better.
When crafting a social media strategy, think of social media not as a completely different beast, but as a supplement and aid to your marketing. What are you already communicating with your other traditional marketing efforts? How might those efforts carry over to social media? And what can your social media efforts give you that your other marketing efforts can’t? By viewing all of your efforts as connected and yet still being distinctly aware of the benefits and drawbacks of each, you can tell a great story that transcends individual platforms and also make sure you’re making the most of the strengths of each.
Social media works best when it meets marketing–and yes, maybe even advertising. Don’t forget that when it’s time for your business to get active and start making a push for social media.
Image Credit: CC by Justin in SD