Dont Throw Out the Baby with the Bathwater: What We Can Learn from Traditional AdvertisingTraditional advertising just doesn’t work in social media — at least that’s what most folks working in this area believe. And, I agree with them. Using social networks as a tool for blasting noise, self-promotion, and generally disrupting the flow of conversation can devastate your brand. Even using Facebook ads (or newer LinkedIn ads) is generally pretty ineffective.

But, does that mean we can’t learn ANYTHING from traditional advertising?

My answer is NO! And, here’s why I think traditional advertising still has something to say about how we SHOULD do social media marketing — new media.

Contribution of traditional advertising to new media

Integrated marketing communications

This is concept easily applicable from traditional advertising – integrated marketing communications or IMC. IMC means you send a single message about your brand through multiple channels (media) including some you might not think about as channels, like retail displays. IMC creates a single image of the brand regardless of where you see it, even though implementation is tailored for the unique characteristics of each channel. Applied to social media, IMC means your Tweets fit the image on your brand from your Facebook page and your Instagram images match those you Pin on Pinterest. Yes, each media has its own rules about what works — for instance images work better on Facebook and links on Twitter — but the overarching message and branding is the SAME.

Push versus pull strategies

In traditional advertising, when we talked about push versus pull strategies we were talking about whether the firm sought to push product down the channel of distribution by advertising the channel partners or pull the product by increasing consumer demand.

But, we can adapt the notion of push/ pull strategy by thinking about it in terms of communication rather than product movement. Thus, a push strategy involves pushing corporate messages through social networks, such as when Hubspot posts numerous status updates touting their products. A pull strategy entices consumers to the brand on social networks.

Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What would you like to get from your brand? In the case of California Tortilla, you get coupons and Taylor Swift shares cuts from albums prior to release. Do these entice consumers to read and share their links? Yes — give me more.

Yet, I met with a prospective client the other day and he said he’s uncomfortable sharing posts that don’t contain a call to action that supports the brand. Other researchers suggest between 85% and 95% of your social media posts should provide value and only the small, remaining percent might be somewhat promotional.

The advertising process

Finally, traditional advertising contributes a process for creating social media that seems pretty reasonable. This process is:

  • Set goals – in traditional advertising these goals are commonly set based on the hierarchy of effects. I proposed a hierarchy of effects for social media in an earlier post.
  • Determine your advertising budget. Commonly, I use the objective-task method which builds a budget based on the amount necessary to reach your goals.
  • Create your advertising message
  • Create your messaging strategy – here I like to think about keywords for posts and types of content
  • Select your media. Today, there are so many options, but think about where your target audience hangs out (and when)
  • Reach and frequency. These concepts from traditional advertising translate well into social media, except think about these in terms of message amplification by your social network rather than push messaging.
  • Determine your ROI. And, despite some doubters, social media is well ahead of traditional advertising in terms of understanding ROI. That’s because I can look at individual messages to see which ones did better than others. I can do A/B testing to try out different types of messages to see what works best. And, if I move beyond vanity metrics, such as number of Fans, I can learn a lot about ROI using tools readily available, such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights for Business.

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