MARCH 2016

Recently I began to wonder if the popular trend is for brands to focus their investments solely on social media. It sure feels like it sometimes.

From my perspective, while social media will almost always beat out traditional avenues of advertising in terms of dollars and cents, I’m not so sure that common sense supports that strategy. First, it should be noted that social media is not for every brand. There are certain brands that are just not going to embrace the openness of one-to-one interactions with their customers or prospects. For these brands, the message is too critical, too structured for the fluid nature of social media and this type of client will never loosen the reins enough to allow for meaningful conversation with their customers; thus missing the mark of effective social media strategies. For other brands, however, social media offers a unique opportunity to strengthen their positioning among their consumer base and even generate new prospects. For these brands, social media can provide a relatively inexpensive platform to reach their audiences, engage them and converse over what they like and dislike about the brand; however, therein lies the rub that turns many brands away from Social Media.

Naturally, a marketer needs to consider their client's goals and objectives as well as their target, and be upfront about the kinds of interactions they are likely to encounter with them online. Frankly most clients, big and small, if told the truth will be totally caught off guard when they find out what is expected of them for a social media effort to be successful. Yet most still throw it into every proposal, not necessarily as an add-on but as an element, a structural ingredient in a varied media mix to achieve our client's objectives. In our experiential campaigns, there is hardly a concept that we execute that does not have the social media component. As members of a burgeoning sector of the marketing industry, and a cost-effective one at that, we can hardly afford to ignore the implications of social media elements on our success metrics especially when our clients are often looking for the most impact for their finite budget. At the very least, Social media helps to create the long tail of communication with the consumers we engage in person.

Though we understand and frequently leverage the benefit of social media, we would never be able to move the needle for our client's brand without the meaningful, invaluable person-to-person interaction that we are able to provide through events, videos, phone conversations, and more. We would never think of our social media campaigns as "add-ons" or "one-offs", and we would also never recommend that our clients save a dollar in the short term and miss out on the deep impression the in-person interaction creates.

A final consideration, and often the deciding factor during campaign planning, is whether the client's true consumers are spending the time online that they think or that they need in order to make the investment worthwhile. When a target's demographics are clearly defined, we are able to go directly to them with the brand via our custom events to craft a visceral and memorable experience rather than attempting to entice them to "like" us on Facebook. Experiential campaigns are also able to reach any target audience given the mobile, agile nature of these types events, not just the online community. All things considered, social media is far from irrelevant, but also, it's hardly the one essential ingredient to a successful, strategic campaign in lieu of the more conventional "media mix."

What do you think? I’d like to hear.

Joe Bouch
A Full Service Advertising Agency in Orlando, Florida