5 Reasons why Integrating Social Media with Traditional Media is HardIntegrating social media into your existing media — advertising and public relations, is challenging.  But, without integration across platforms you risk diluting your brand, wasting marketing efforts, and lower sales.  This topic came up yesterday in our discussion with Mari Smith, who paid a visit to my social media marketing class yesterday and  Jason Falls, of Social Media Explorer discussed it today on his blog.

Since integrating social media with your traditional media is so important, let’s take a look at why it’s so hard.

Why Integrating Social Media is so Hard ?

1. The platforms are different.

Traditional media are one-way communications where you talk at your market, while social media is a two-way conversation where you talk with your market.

While this difference may seem obvious, it makes a huge difference in your communications.

  • With social media you can’t just talk about yourself, you have to share more personal information about the people involved, and you need to create content that’s valuable to your network.
  • You have to engage your audience in social media so developing tactics to get them involved are critical.
  • People talk back in social media and sometimes you don’t like what they have to say — this creates a blending of social media and customer service that requires a mechanism for addressing complaints voiced on your social networks.

2. You need to give them something to link with you in social media.

Remember, you’re not paying for programming they’ll enjoy — like a TV program — so you need to “pay” your followers something to get them to listen to you.  What kinds of motivation work in social media:

  • Contests or other tactics that give rewards to folks “Like” you or share your content.  For instance, Social Media Examiner was running a contest for folks who Tweeted about their Facebook Summit with the winner getting admission to the event.  This ensures your attracting folks who are part of your target audience rather than random followers who just want to win something.
  • Support a cause your audience supports.  This worked for Purina.  They gave away a bowl of dog food to animal shelters for every person who “Liked” their Facebook fanpage and gave a bag of dog food for everyone who blogged about the charitable project.
  • Acknowledge folks, people love being recognized and, if you fail to thank them for their support, they’ll stop supporting you.  For instance, Guy Kawasaki responds personally to everyone who writes on his Facebook wall — so does Mari Smith, although she has a little help from her staff.  I make a habit of responding to every comment on my blog, every +1, every RT, and thank folks for every share of my content (except those who rip off my content).

3. The metrics are different.

In traditional media, you’re trying to sell product so the metrics are sales or return on investment (ROI).  In social media, you’re trying to build relationships so metrics are harder to come by.  What you’d really like to measure is engagement, but you have to settle for things like # of comments, # of shares (Tweets, +1s, Facebook Likes …), Klout scores (which measure your online influence), and buzz (folks talking about your brand in social media).

Bean counter types don’t like these squishy metrics — they want ROI.  But remember, traditional media are great for creating immediate sales increases, but they’re expensive and their value erodes quickly once the campaign is over.  Social media is like a slow burn — it smolders forever creating a steady heat over an extended period of time.  It’s also harder to link social media efforts directly with sales.

4. Social media and traditional media are often handled by different employees or agencies.

Social media is often handled by young folks with technical expertise (such as computer folks) or with a journalism background.  Or by a social media agency or consultant.

Traditional media comes from older folks with broadcast and PR expertise. Or an advertising agency.

These folks don’t speak the same language or understand each other very well.  And, they may not work together well — they may even be in different building or cities.  This makes collaboration and integration of social media and traditional media difficult.

5. Integrating Social Media and traditional marketing requires specialized skills.

Integrating social media and traditional media requires a detailed understanding of both platforms and a thorough understanding of the marketing and consumer behavior concepts that underpin success in both platforms.  And NEITHER of your social media or traditional marketing team may know anything about marketing and consumer behavior.  Hiring someone to brand your products who doesn’t KNOW marketing is like hiring an accountant who never took an accounting class.  They can do it, but it isn’t RIGHT.

Concepts such as market segmentation (and targeting), consumer decision-making, group influences, and advertising effectiveness from marketing are critical and don’t come from reading a book or taking a class.  They require mentorship from someone who guides you in creating success.