Before You Pronounce Traditional Advertising Dead Check For Its Social Media Pulse.

People love to pronounce things dead. In fact, the phrase “is dead” returns over 226 million Google search results. However, most media and marketing that has been pronounced dead, doesn’t actually die, it just changes into something else. Radio was pronounced dead when TV came along. Instead radio became a valuable local and promotional medium. I still have the cover of WIRED magazine hanging in my office that pronounced Apple computer dead in the 1990′s.

Advertising Is Dead

Death predictions may be popular, but popularity does not make them right.

Many have pronounced traditional advertising dead as digital and social media have increased in usage and influence. In 2013 a Harvard Business Review article said, “Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm. But they are. The evidence is clear.” The author’s evidence? More people find information about products/services on their own through the internet and social media. CMO’s lack credibility and can’t prove business growth. It doesn’t make sense to hire 3rd parties to try and sell your products for you. (I have paraphrased Bill Lee, please check out his arguments yourself).

From the evidence I gathered I see a different story. Instead of death, social media seems to be giving traditional advertising new life and this new life is growing evidence for the importance of integration of marketing methods. Instead of replacing the old, we should be including it. Even in my Social Media Marketing class focused on social media, I make it clear that it should never exist on its own. It is not a replacement for traditional marketing, but should be integrated into traditional efforts. But perhaps I am biased because I received my masters degree in IMC (Integrated Marketing Communication) so lets look at the numbers and you can decide for yourself.

How consumers find out about new products and brands

Traditional media still has influence with digital and social.

According to Ipsos research released in 2013, the number one way to create awareness around new brands and products is still with TV ads followed by friends and family and then the Internet. Nearly a third of consumers also turn to magazine ads (31%), social networking sites (25%), entertainment (TV shows/movies; 22%) and direct mail (21%). Even in the younger 18-34 group, the Internet becomes the primary source of discovery (59%), but TV is still third (48%).

Most influencial forms of advertising

Again, traditional media has not been completely replaced with new media.

Nielson data reports surveys of online consumers indicating the more influential forms of advertising (ones they always or sometimes take action on). People I know and opinions posted online are number one (84%) and two (70%), TV comes in at third (68%). Ads in newspapers are still number five (65%), magazine ads are eighth (62%) and billboards are just out of the top ten (57%). These charts say “integration” to me, not “death.”

TV Multitasking Behavior

Consumers are combining traditional with social media, why shouldn’t marketers?

Brands that are integrating are seeing better results. Deloitte research reports Some 86% of US consumers (aged 14+) claim to always or almost always multitask while watching TV. Almost half of Millennials this year say they use a social network while watching TV. The brands that know this are acting on it and benefiting from integration. For example, combined print advertising with online has been shown to increase intention to take action by 85%. And combined use of Twitter has also delivered greater results for traditional TV by increasing awareness, favorability and intent.

Combined print and online advertising effectiveness.

Traditional media and digital media work better together.

TV X Twitter increases awareness, favorability, intent.

Traditional media and social media work better together.

I am still a social media fan and highly suggest that all brands need to jump into social media marketing. But in your enthusiasm for the new, don’t leave behind the old. Traditional advertising is still alive and kicking and gets a boost from social media marketing. The best marketing efforts combine both in IMC fashion. Do you agree or do you see a flat line for traditional?


Bridging The Trust Gap Between Advertising And Social Media.

The other day I came across this Gallup poll on honesty/ethics in professional fields. Personally this strikes home because my wife is a nurse (the top slot with 82% honesty) and my advertising profession ranks at the very bottom (14% honesty with only car salespeople, Congress members and lobbyist ranking lower).

Besides personal embarrassment for my profession, why is consumer lack of trust important for social media marketers? As marketers we have something very good going with social media – 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. Since it is so new, we haven’t messed it up yet, but this advantage goes away if in our social activities we act like we have in traditional advertising. Eccentially, Social Media Marketing is the intersection of advertising and social media.

Gallup Poll honesty ethical standards fields professions social media marketing

Advertisers (marketers) rank near the bottom of professions for honesty and ethical standards. Does this matter to your bottom line?

How do we bridge this huge trust gap between advertising and social media? Start with ethical standards. I worked in advertising as a copywriter and creative director for nearly 20 years and didn’t even know my advertising profession had a Code of Ethics. In fact, it wasn’t until I started teaching an Advertising Law & Ethics class that I discovered these standards.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) first adopted their code of ethics in 1924. The AAAA Standards of Practice were developed from “the belief that sound and ethical practice is good business. Confidence and respect are indispensable to success in a business.” Further, unethical practices “tend to weaken public confidence both in advertisements and in the institution of advertising.” With our very low honesty scores, apparently a lot of advertisers are not following these standards.

In the area of social media marketing honesty and ethics are even more important. While not nearly as old as AAAA, the WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) just celebrated their 10th anniversary, they are the official trade association dedicated to word of mouth and social media marketing and a central mission of WOMMA is to create an environment of trust between consumers and marketers. The WOMMA Code of Ethics can be found on their website, but below are my highlights.

Engage in practices/policies that promote trust between the consumer and marketer through:

Integrity: Comply with laws, regulations, and rules concerning the prevention of unfair, deceptive or misleading advertising/marketing. Reject consumer manipulation and deception to promote honesty and transparency in practices/methods so consumers can make better informed purchasing decisions. This is what advertisers are supposed to be doing. At a mere 14% percent honesty and ethical rating, you can see where not following a code of ethics has lead us.

Respect: Promote and abide by practices that focus on consumer welfare. The industry is best served by recognizing the consumer, not the marketer, is in charge and in control (Post Control Marketing). The consumer defines the terms of this consumer-marketer relationship. Respect them! They are not a target. They are partners in building your brand.

Honesty: Consumers should be free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. We should not tell others what to say or how to say it. The best way to control what people say about your brand is to deliver an excellent brand/product experience.

Responsibility: Working with minors in marketing programs requires sensitivity and care, given their particular vulnerability to manipulation and deception. This is a no brainer. Kids are different and there are a lot on social media. Don’t take advantage of them.

Privacy: Respect the privacy of consumers and promote the most effective means to promote privacy, such as opt-in and permission standards. This is very important. 88% consumers are concerned about the privacy of their personal data, half are changing online habits because of privacy fears, and 80% feel the government should implement more regulations. Wouldn’t we rather control ourselves?

There have been plenty of examples that ethics in business is important to ROI (Enron, MCI WorldCom, Lehman Brothers, etc.). Social media marketing is no different. In fact, social media can help make your brand more trustworthy. 82% of consumers trust a company more if they are involved with social media. But we will lose that trust if we go the way of the advertising industry and not hold ourselves accountable to ethical standards.

How honest are you in your social media practices and what standards do you follow? Or do you honestly believe that honesty doesn’t matter in marketing?

Use Basic People Skills To Add More “Social” To Your Social Media Marketing

Sometimes we forget to be social in our social media marketing. We focus too much on marketing and some marketers forget the social aspect all together. But the social part is what draws response and action. So how can we as marketers be more social while still keeping ROI in mind? Inspiration can come from other areas where business has a social purpose.

We don’t forget to be social in physical events. At networking events you don’t just walk up to people and deliver your hard sell message. You have learned some social skills and techniques. We can apply these “real life” people skills to social media.

Here are 5 ways to be more social in your social media marketing:

1. Don’t Brag. No one likes a guest who only talks about his or her accomplishments. Dr. James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas, actually performed research about this on Facebook. He found that the higher the person’s perceived power, the less he or she used “I.” People who frequently use “I” focus on themselves. As a brand the same applies. The less you talk about yourself, the higher your perceived importance and value. Talk about your consumers and brag on their accomplishments.

2. Ask questions & Listen. How do you feel when someone asks you a question and is genuine in wanting a response? Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, includes “Be a good listener” as one of the most powerful things you can do to be likeable and influential. After 70 years and over 15 million copies this advice is still true. As a brand listen to your consumers and ask questions to gain insight into their opinions and desires. Imagine how important and valued they will feel if you actually act on some of their thoughts.

3. Know current topics. Current events are always an ice breaker at social events. From the weather to the latest news headlines, these topics help build bridges of common knowledge. Yet many companies seem so out of touch. What if a company had something relevant  to say about something that happened today? Digital Sherpa says that by tapping into a trending topic a marketer increases their social reach by simply joining the conversation. Trending topics will give you content ideas, but also an opportunity to reach your audience without having to pay for it on crowded platforms such as Facebook.

4. Offer a reward. What would you do for something, anything free? We love free. A secret to attract attention at conventions is to offer a free tchotchke of real or perceived value. Researchers at Duke University found that people perceive the benefits associated with free products as higher. People appear to act as if zero pricing of a good not only decreases its cost, but also adds to its benefits. As a marketer this could mean offering free products or samples as part of social media use/brand community or offer free apps and games.

5. Tell a joke. We don’t all have to be stand up comedians to tell a simple joke or offer a funny observation on life, an industry or situation. Sometimes people just want a laugh. Why is humor so powerful? Psychology Today tells us that humor is ubiquitous. Every person and culture relates to laughter. Many times humor pulls people together. Humor smoothes awkward social and cultural interactions. In addition, humor is good for us. It is good for your health by helping reduce stress and anxiety. Funny people also receive positive attention and admiration. Has your social activity been a little too serious?

When planning your next social media post or campaign, take a step back and think about the “real” people skills you already know and how you can use them in this virtual social world. What other people skills could be valuable in social media?