by Fred Cremo, UFSocial Contributor
The growth, popularity and effectiveness of social media is often discussed and debated within the context of traditional media. In attempting to compare the differences, marketers and journalists tend to invoke binary and ambiguous comparisons between the two, such as paid versus free, top down/bottom up, broad versus targeted, and passive/active. The distillation of the collective media environment in these basic building blocks should not be taken as an attempt to diminish or marginalize either side, but more as an effort to provide a simple and efficient “compare and contrast” example between both paradigms. These comparisons, if considered carefully, can be useful to drive effective integration, rather than merely pointing out their differences.
The descriptions noted above often suggest that one component holds a clear advantage over the other. For example, the free versus paid analogy that often surfaces in marketing discussions tends to suggest that free, social-based marketing tactics are inherently better than paid traditional approaches. Similarly, when marketers cite the passive/active aspects of traditional versus social, it feels couched in a belief that active is simply better than passive. Decision makers need to maintain a clear context-based understanding of the relative value of each aspect of these binaries rather than choosing one over the other. This dynamic and integrative approach will allow brands to optimize their strategy and deploy a set of tactics that are aligned with their specific call to action, be that selling a product or service, or simply creating awareness and consideration.
One compelling example of integrating the social and traditional approach is Shazam. Over 500 million people have downloaded this music recognition app as a means to identify a song by activating the app to “listen” for about 15 seconds using a mobile device’s microphone, and then provide feedback on the name of the song and artist. The app seemed firmly entrenched as simply another handy icon for music fans who didn’t know what they were listening to, but liked it.
However, when I started seeing the Shazam icon pop up on TV ads, I was intrigued. Shazam had found a way to link social to traditional media via TV advertising by re-imagining the Shazam app functionality. Shazam was encouraging the audience sitting on their couch to activate Shazam on their mobile device to “listen” to the commercial. The audio portion of the commercial triggered the app to serve up the brands website. This interplay allowed the brand, in this case Target, to engage their “traditional” TV audience in a new and unique way, and draw them into their digital space. This levering of traditional media to drive social activity is at the heart of authentic integration
The advent of #hashtags created another excellent bridge for brands focused on integration to drive prospects that consume their traditional media into the social sphere.
IKEA has been particularly successful in mixing its standard hashtags like #IKEA and #IKEACatalog with more personal themes like #DIY or #creative. By linking their physical plant, their catalog and their brand voice with social tools, IKEA has created an excellent balance that allows them to stay relevant with their followers.
Many brands have tried to optimize their marketing approach by merely attempting to balance traditional and social channels. Early adopters often simply added a social presence to complement their traditional approach. However, while a multi-channel approach can be successful in casting a larger net to grow a base of followers, companies still need additional efforts to engage.
Eleanor Palmer of Enveritas Group gives props to Anthropologie for doing just this and blending their traditional catalog with their online shopping presence by pointing the consumer back to their website. They also pull in other segments by maintaining a robust Instagram presence. For Anthropologie, they are using both platforms to build and strengthen bonds with their core audience.
Brands will need to continually seek effective ways to integrate media rather than stack their individual resources to drive success. Because as any four year-old can tell you, if you stack your blocks too high, they will inevitably fall.
About the Author
Fred is a lifelong learner and currently pursuing his master’s degree in social media at the University of Florida. A former chef, he is now employed in the healthcare industry and lives near Tampa, Florida.