Your “Social Media” Budget? Social Media Is MEDIA!

I have been in the advertising/marketing field for over 20 years now, and I have never been so confused by anything more than how social media/digital marketing is viewed by many in the industry.  Advertisers talk about their media budgets, and then, in a separate conversation discuss their digital/social media budget. But, social media IS media. Why do brands continue to allocate insufficient budgets toward social media and expect it to stand alone and be effective?

The process of social media integration is not vastly different to any other time when companies have had to adapt to changing times, ranging from implementing new technology all the way up to bringing women or minorities into their workforce. They were aware that society and the times were requiring them to comply, but they had no real desire to embrace change. Many times this reluctance is at the detriment of the company.

Most companies are indeed becoming aware of the fact that to reach their customers, or to appear current, they have to have some digital or social presence. Yet, they create this presence by placing the responsibility in the hands of an employee or intern that is not qualified to handle the task. “Post an update, take some pictures” is the order, and the Facebook page is born. Oh, and of course, add the “like us on Facebook” button to the website. They have now created a Facebook page, making an entry now and again, many times with outdated content that does little to engage the viewer’s interest. When the topic of social then resurfaces, the conversation is “we tried, but we did not see a lot of results”. No results from all that effort? what a surprise!

I am shocked that most brands do not see the value in having a dynamic Facebook presence. Newspapers, magazines, radio, and even television – what we now call “traditional” media – have made billions selling numbers, or “impressions”. Marketers pay for advertising based on circulation numbers, and ratings points. They even pay just to have a product seen in a film. Yet an opportunity such as Facebook is greatly underutilized. So let us look at some “numbers” in context to see just how much opportunity is really there.

Facebook has over 800 million people on their platform. Some estimates say over 300 million users are in the United States and Canada alone. Two thirds of Facebook users log on at the very least once a week, and most do so at some point daily. Put in perspective that means…

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  • If Facebook were a newspaper… it would have a circulation among the much sought after demographic of 18-49 greater than the top 100 newspapers combined.
  • If Facebook were a TV show… it would be the highest rated show in history. The show would be viewed daily with viewership higher than the top 50 television shows (including the Super Bowl) combined.
  • If Facebook were a magazine… it would have a greater circulation than the top 50 magazines in print today.
  • If Facebook were a radio station… it would have more listeners than the top 40 radio stations combined.
  • If Facebook were a billboard… a company could buy every billboard on every stretch of highway, and not have as many potential eyes see the message.

No, I am by no means saying that Facebook will replace all of these forms of “traditional media”. In 1922, when the first radio advertisement ran on New York’s WEAF (it was 10 minutes long), people started chatter that the newspaper industry will die. In 1948, when television advertising started to take center-stage for a number of reasons (the end of WWII and enough TV sets to make ad delivery effective, for instance), many started to plan the funeral for radio. There are those that now think that TV might be on life-support because of the Internet. I don’t think any of the traditional media are going anywhere. What’s more, they are still an important part of a brand’s overall media strategy.

But, Facebook and social media is NOW. Compared to the type of traditional media mentioned, social media is the only one that has ways to let you know for sure that your message was seen. More importantly, Facebook allows brands to interact one-on-one with potential consumers. No DVR, no newspaper undelivered or unopened, no iPod playlist or Internet instead of radio. Social media can provide superior delivery and analytics over ANY other form of media. Yet, social media seems as if it has to be “fit in” to a budget. And, once fit in, this powerful voice is handed over to untrained individuals to deliver a brand’s message. Social Media IS media, and is a growing media in a world where traditional media is losing numbers and struggling to stay relevant.

So let us stop talking about social media budgets and talk media budgets. Hire professionals to handle this powerful medium. Let social media come to the “grown up” table and work alongside the media platforms that have led the way. Your Brand will be better for it.

Comments: 2

  • This is a GREAT article and well written.

    I spent 10+ years in the television industry putting commercials on the air for companies like Kraft, P&G, Pfizer, etc and it amazed me that they would pay the money they pay for PAST results and not today’s results. Yes, they could get makegoods to get back to a zero balance but it just seemed backwards to me because campaigns ended and there are other costs besides getting to even.

    Today as a partner in a web design and digital agency I get these questions all the time and I relay the same responses that are in this post. This is what is happening today and it shouldn’t replace ALL of your other types of marketing but it needs to be included and considered a powerful medium.

    Thank you for the post and now I have another resource to point to when this question comes up.

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