Is It Social Media or Broadcast Media?

I’ve been around long enough to have witnessed the beauty of advertising on broadcast media when broadcast media was all we had.

I cut my teeth in a heavily promotional environment at Time Warner Cable, where I spent nearly 10 years in Marketing Management, where we used existing tools such as radio, TV, direct mail, telemarketing, door-to-door sales, outdoor (billboard), special events and more to send our messages, and help super-charge our roughly 52-week promotional schedule.


I loved it!

Boy, did we ever love making the phone ring. We were doing our jobs right when that happened. This was direct response marketing at its finest. Dealing with the churn rate (turnover as a percentage of total customers) that came from a challenging market, along with the inability to form lasting relationships with our advertising, is another story for another day, but not one to be ignored in this story. Stick with me because I’ll touch on this in a minute.

We “softened” the market with our promotional messages so our CSRs (customer service reps) could answer the phones, help current and potential customers figure out what they might like to buy, then take their order. We also helped our door-to-door salespeople so the services they offered were more familiar when doors opened (which I’m still surprised people do in this day and age).


Fast forward to today. We have been given the gift of media that are a mixture of everything we need to develop relationships with our current and potential clients and customers, as well as to sell our products and services.

My marketing heart breaks, however, when I see and read about some of the methods businesses and professionals are using in Social Media. Reading a post by Marissa McNaughton, Community Manager for Modern Media, in The Realtime Report is what gave me pause, and got me thinking about how some are using Social Media these days.

Among other points, Marissa reported that in a December, 2011 study,

94% [of the Top 50 brands] direct Facebook comments to a one-way communication page – either a tab or closed Facebook wall where users do not have the ability to initiate conversation. This has changed little since 2010, when 91% of the top 50 brands led consumers to one-way communication on Facebook. The majority of these brands are also not responding to fan comments: 56% did not respond to a single customer comment on their Facebook page in 2011 (the same as in 2010).”

Do you remember what I said above when I talked about not having the ability to form lasting relationships with our current and potential customers in our advertising at Time Warner, and how that was partially responsible for the churn we experienced?

I’m not blaming it all on our one-way, broadcast-based advertising and communication because we served an economically-challenged market. Knowing what I know now, I realize it was definitely a contributing factor.


We now have tools at our disposal that allow us…

  • To actually talk to people
  • To find out what’s on their minds
  • To find out what they like
  • To find out what they don’t like
  • To find out what they wish they had
  • To find out what their problems are
  • To find out what delivery methods they prefer
  • To find out what goes on in their day-to-day lives that might impact their ability to survive,
  • To find out what our competitors offer, and
  • A thousand more ideas

…yet some of us are using Social Media to broadcast our messages, and no more?



The days of only having one-way broadcast media, with nothing to complement it that helps to form relationships, is long gone my friends.

If we are using Social Media as a one-way tool to broadcast our messages, we are not only disrespecting and abusing the tools we have been given as marketers and communicators, but we are disrespecting the people with whom we have decided we would like to do business.

If this describes your brand, please stop it TODAY!


For starters:

  1. Begin to have conversations.
  2. Follow up on comments that people make that tell you they are in need.
  3. Thank people.
  4. Apologize to people.
  5. Answer their questions.
  6. Acknowledge their frustrations.
  7. Get off your pedestals and meet your clients where they are, not where you want them to be.
  8. Don’t hide.
  9. Be humble.
  10. Don’t sell before you have earned the right to.

Here we are….in a world of Social Media, where Social means just what it says….being social with people in an effort to develop lasting relationships….and we have reverted to a world of broadcast media because it’s safe, it takes too much time to do otherwise, or it’s all we know how to do?

As Bruce Buchanan, Marketing Copywriter with the 550-attorney global law firm Womble Carlyle, shared with me on Twitter:

“Social Media is a dialogue.”

We have to get past this, okay?

Stop broadcasting.

Begin communicating, really communicating, which implies conversation, or dialogue.

After all, you are much more interested in lasting relationships than one-hit, one-time direct response marketing transactions, aren’t you?