In one hand, even though some modern digital marketers may think differently, social media is not the only kind of marketing that exists or is effective in spite of being the most popular among today’s users. On the other hand we have the traditional marketer’s outdated idea of considering social and new media as some kind of overhyped trend that will sooner or later fade away to finally be ignored or forgotten like a spoiled teenager. Both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages but the best possible compromise is to integrate both into a combined marketing strategy that has the best of both worlds. A mixed marketing strategy.
It is time to change our vision and start to think broadly about the possibility of adopting mixed marketing plans where each one may act as a complement to the other.
Remember that customers are not just pawns which are only useful when they acquire our products or services. In this sense, the influence of social media has been fundamental and changes everything forever.
The image of the brand must be humanized and customers should be considered as an important component during the development and adoption of marketing strategies.
Perhaps the most advisable thing to do is to consider every other aspect of mixing both visions of marketing, for instance, to plan the social media campaign as a complement of the established ways of communications.
The reality of social media
The hard part about social media is the fact that is quite difficult (and even painful) to start gaining some ground unless the goddess of fortune smiles upon you to get a Youtube video or a Tweet to go viral.
Admittedly, those viral events may occur by unpredictable and sometimes wrong reasons.
The real thing is this: social media marketing may take months or even years to show some signs of significative progress, that is receiving an appropriate number of fans on your company’s Facebook page, followers of your brand’s account on Twitter or readers that subscribe to your blog.
Maybe you can “speed up” the process of your social media marketing by hiring paid ads on Facebook and hyper-linked and sponsored tweets on Twitter, but still, it cannot be compared to an advertisement on a major event like the World Series or during a popular program like the Ellen Degeneres TV show.
Benefits of social media
Despite being considered as a “transitional trend”, social media has strong advantages in comparison with traditional marketing in the following aspects:
- a) Posts, publications, messages, etc. are stored on the Internet servers, websites, blogs, and landing pages forever and ever.
- b) Users can answer and interact directly through tweets, Facebook updates or blog comments. This aspect, no doubt, has a strong bearing in terms of memory retention and impact, because human beings remember better by doing than just by passive reading/viewing.
- c) People that use social media trust more on the information shared by friends or contacts rather than models/actors hired for delivering pre-scripted advertisements.
- d) A relevant information or message can be continuously shared long after its original publication and can even evolve on its own.
Traditional marketing still works
Traditional marketing implies using advertisements through mass media: TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, etc. Those ads are placed (for a price) depending on its size, the medium in which it will be published and for the period time that will be “on the air”.
Due to the development of Internet and big advancements of communication technologies, this changed dramatically and people began to read their news or magazines online and to watch videos on the net.
Consequently, they had no other choice but to adapt to those permanent changes produced by the world of technology, so the rules of the game changed and the companies that had been successful by using this kind of marketing also have changed the way of promoting their products/services.
However, traditional marketing still works because they take benefit from several inherent characteristics of human nature relating to choices, judgments, and decisions.
In fact, there are several psychological studies that have proved that when something (a message, an image, a name of a brand or product, etc.) is shown frequently to the public, little by little, they tend to like it. This is known as the exposure effect.
The exposure effect exists because, after all, we as human beings have a natural tendency to prefer things that are familiar to us, so they are easier to accept. In other words, this mere repetitive acceptance produces something called familiarity.
This psychological effect explains why some ads and promotional messages, radio, TV commercials and posters can produce a strong influence in our judgments and choices even if we believe that we paid little attention or just ignored those messages.
Therefore, the mere existence of this exposure is a clear demonstration of why traditional marketing and advertising methods still work.
Integrating Social Media and Traditional marketing
The integration of the new social media with traditional marketing is not an easy task; fresh ideas, creativity, and a wide mind are needed in order to face the big challenge of integrating old and established paradigms with the new ones.
The first step is to establish a framework which will be developed by asking the following basic but fundamental questions in order to make steady steps into a successful mixed strategy:
1 What is your goal?
Well, the most obvious and important question of all, isn´t? Still you will be surprised to know how often companies and entrepreneurs tend to skip this basic step. However, do not confuse your company´s goal with the communications goal.
2. Who is your target audience?
Ok, this one needs to take some time, so do not rush it. Try to go beyond demographics data and start to ask yourself: What kind of people is going to be willing to acquire or use your product? What kind of activities do they do? What kind of a job do they have? When will they use your product/service? Try to define the kind of public which your mixed strategy will aim at.
3. Where is your audience?
Another obvious question but still fundamental, especially if you are considering social platforms. This is about where they are living, where are they doing their common activities or duties? A lot of important data that you need for further analysis depends on this.
4. How can you connect with your audience?
Do not aim this answer in relation to the kind of channels. Instead, try to ask yourself using a creative perspective from the point of view of your audience. How can you best connect with them?
5. How can you prolong the conversation with them?
This is where the combination of both worlds enters into the scene. Once you have achieved making the first contact and obtained some trust to have a continuous interaction, what kind of strategy do you plan to use?
Once you have answered the basic questions, you will have a clearer vision of the whole picture and what you’re dealing with, the next step is the development of your mixed strategy.
For this here are some actions recommended by many marketers to achieve such integration
A. Focus on the strategy and not on the tools
Social media is an environment in constant changing and periodically new tools are introduced faster. No one can deny that using the most updated and latest technology advancements may benefit and help your company.
But it is also important to evaluate the value and impact of a specific tool towards your company’s marketing strategy beyond the innovation that it can offer..
You have to answer sincerely this question: Will the tool help the company to develop a more effective marketing strategy? If the answer is no, then put the attractive element aside for another moment.
B. Using social media towards your marketing strategy
When your social media actions have been implemented without a clear idea about what is your target audience, the integration process will be null.
So this demonstrates the big significance of identifying your target audience to establish clear objectives for your social media tactics.
And one of the most common tactics is to guide the customer to make the decision to purchase or acquire your product.
c. Focus on Awareness
Social media, like its traditional counterpart, is mostly used to generate awareness towards your company, brand, product or service.
So your marketers have to establish from the very beginning if the client’s´ awareness is the main objective with the purpose of developing a marketing strategy that focuses on converting such awareness into purchasing intents.
Alike, if your strategy is to build brand/company advocacy, your marketers should have a clear idea about how to take advantage of your fans to expand your company’s message and increase clients’ loyalty.
d. Choose the most appropriated social media networks
Nowadays every company or brand has a presence on the major social networks: Facebook and Twitter. However, there are many other social networks such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat where brands do not have so much presence.
In fact, companies do not have enough resources (monetary and human) to have a presence on every social network, so how do marketers prioritize then?
Well, the answer is pretty simple, they tend to choose the social media environments which suit best the company’s target audience and brand recognition.
That’s the reason Facebook and Twitter tend to be used by most companies and brands because they reach a broader quantity of public, while the visual oriented social networks such as Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat have a younger audience.
e. Developing social media toolkits
Creation and developing of brand toolkits have becoming a standard practice for some companies which has been effective to guide local markets by providing templates and guidelines about how to create customized content.
In such fashion, some companies with a presence in social media platforms are also creating social media toolkits that include Facebook and Twitter templates for posting.
Using these toolkits can create a stronger and more recognized image of the brand across different locations and platforms, and moreover, it can help to reduce the time and resources used in the development of new content for social platforms.
f. Include social media experts in the other teams
Generally, the social media team works from a separate section or from a different location so the probability of a poor integration within the company is higher.
To avoid this it is important to integrate your social media experts closely to the brand and customer teams, so this way, they feel involved as soon as communication objectives have been set.
This association will be quite positive because social media experts are generally more familiarized with the latest platforms and tools and also know what strategies can attract more the attention of existing and potential customers, followers, and fans.
In consequence, social media experts can guide the other teams to achieve the most effective results.
g. Develop a balanced expertise
While social media development moves so fast and there is so much to learn about them, many companies entrust their media activities and management to outsource agencies which are not familiarized with the current company’s marketing strategy.
Consequently, this kind of decisions produce negative effects on the integration of social media with the main objectives of companies, so some decided to use social platforms more for internal purposes or establish and use strong affiliations with particular agencies. .
h. Purchasing conversions
Social media platforms are the only place where companies can interact directly and in real time with their clients. Hence, this feature can be useful as a key element which permits the marketing strategy to focus on its main reason of existence: purchasing.
For instance, a follower posts that he/she is going to shop a specific article, companies can answer with a tweet which contains useful information or particular promotions or discounts.
If at the end of the purchasing process the client is satisfied, this would produce a chain effect among the current and potential customers for trying to acquire that particular product and of course this will be reflected in the increase of the company’s revenues and profits.
i. Hold the line
Sometimes companies are driven by the heat of the moment produced by social media so every brand or client wants to have an account on the major social networks (Facebook and Twitter).
However, marketing supervisors should hold the line and not be influenced by trends of the moment and decide carefully about which social media networks are the most ideal for the brand from a manageable and customer point of view.
Using a social media group to control social media access make sure that the potential clients can see as if the company is managed by someone reliable and with expertise about the best ways to use social platforms, so this will reinforce the image of the brand and its current marketing strategy.
j. Ensure integration
If you want that integration can be valued and demanded, company leaders should share the successes of the organization with the entire personal and with its community on social platforms.
News of achievements and success can become an important part of the philosophy of a company and then influence directly with its members and clients so the integration between social media and marketing strategies will be strengthened
h. Arrange some attribution
If your company is focused in a marketing strategy through social media, for sure, questions about its contributions to sales, reviews, case studies, contests, etc. will be asked.
So in order to produce a mixed marketing strategy that can yield positive and effective results in terms of achieving better integrations between the company, its workers and clients as well, these worthy questions must be answered to reinforce that integration, and moreover, to analyze and measure the effects of the strategy on the different contexts
i. Learn from mistakes
Do not be intimidated by making mistakes, and do not stop on experimenting and testing new options.
Remember that experimenting with social media is easier and less expensive than traditional media, so your company can test and learn very fast.
Also, the losses from bad decisions and failures are less serious on social media, therefore, experimenting and testing on this environment will have positive and effective consequences because it will permit your company to obtain more precise data about which posts, campaigns or other measures have the best results on your marketing strategy.
To sum up
If your company is managed to implement a mixed marketing strategy in an effective way you will see that the management of your brand and your customers will work flawlessly.
There will be improvements in every aspect of marketing resulting in better efficiency and effectiveness. But remember that to achieve this tremendous success you need to have a clear understanding of the value of the feature offered by traditional marketing and the social counterpart.
But at the end, you will realize that this integration is quite possible because both worlds share the same main goal: to attract and retain customers.