This Town’s Not Big Enough For The Two of Us: Social Media Marketing (SMM) vs. Traditional Marketing

Posted: April 6th, 2010 By: Jason Breed

Marketers seem to be more judicious before hopping on or off the social media bandwagon these days, yet they are still not quite sure where “social media marketing” fits within their organization.  Is social the “new” marketing or is it complementary to exisitng initiatives?  Beth Harte has a strong opinion on this matter and if you know Beth, I don’t think I’ll argue too much with her experience.

For our post, we have used much of Beth’s post from a couple of weeks ago to prep for our conversation this week.  Her original post follows:

“All of the panelists agree that social media are exciting new ways to listen and communicate, but they are basically new tools. So how do we get across to the marketing community that boring old marketing disciplines still apply and how do we get rid of this silly dichotomy between social media marketing and classic marketing.”  

My basic response was that social media tools are not new and some have been around for ten years or more. And second, there isn’t a dichotomy because social media needs to be integrated. 

I think this is a serious discussion that needs to take place because there marketers and marketing executives who have been given the wrong impression or direction when it comes to social media. 

Integrating Social Media 

First, I am not a fan of the term ‘social media marketing’ because a) it silos social media from other marketing communications tactics and other marketing disciplines and b) because a lot of folks out there are implementing social media tools without understanding the nature (or theory) of marketing as a whole. Second, as an integrated marketing practitioner, I totally disagree that ‘social media marketing’ is replacing classic marketing (or the theory that comes with it). 

What’s new and important is how these tools are being used in business; how we have a window into what our customers are really thinking, where they interact, how to engage with them, etc.; and how we now have data to serve our customers BETTER. 

But this notion of knowing our customers isn’t anything new…that’s basic marketing (and I mean ALL of marketing here, not just the promotional aspect of marketing), public relations and communications.

While CRM systems have been the tool of choice for keeping track of customers and extracting data  they never really allowed marketers to put faces to names (unless there’s some stealth way to take a photo and add it to your CRM), to listen to conversations or to actively engage in a two-way manner. The only tool that allows that is social media. 

The key to integration today is simple. Marketers need to be flexible, able to adjust, and most importantly able to provide pertinent AND timely information when, where and how customers/potential customers need/want it. Social media allows for that across all areas of marketing (product, pricing, promotion and distribution). 

Who/What Is Creating the Dichotomy?  

I think the most important issue here, however, is who/what is creating the dichotomy? Who or what is causing marketers to think that it’s an either/or situation? 

Is it that we’ve been siloed for so long and that there hasn’t been a good job with integration to begin with? We only need to look at E-Mail Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, and Direct Marketing to get a sense of the answer. 

As social media evangelists and practitioners we need to truly understand what is going on in our industry. Otherwise, we are doing a disservice to our customers and future as marketers. 

Beth’s post was perfect for this week’s chat which is set to take place Tuesday 4/6/10 at noon EST. 

Topic:  This Town’s Not Big Enough For The Two of Us: Social Media Marketing (SMM) vs. Traditional Marketing

Q1: Is SMM on its way to replacing traditional marketing?

Q2: Can marketers be as accountable with SMM as traditional marketing?

Q3: What are best practices for cooperating traditional marketing with SMM?

To follow along, use #sm54 or simply go to our LIVE site, now with new features.

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