I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone that lives their life entirely online. Each day we're all exposed to a variety of media and marketing messages. So why do some marketers feel that they have to choose between online and traditional advertising?

Social media doesn't have to mean writing a blog or creating a widget. When a viewer repeats the tag line from a TV spot, spontaneously sings a jingle they heard, tells a friend about their experience with a certain brand, or posts reviews online—they're engaging in a form of social media too. Whether a brand sets out to create a social media campaign that starts people talking or something else causes lots of people to begin chatting up the brand, that public buzz, for better or worse, is social media.

You can't control social media
Many companies have shied away from social media marketing because they're concerned about loosing control of the message and fear what their brand message might become in the hands of the public.  By integrating traditional advertising and marketing—tactics where you can control the message, with the influence and reach of Social Media, marketers can guide the message instead of control it.  Marketers remain in control of crafting the strategy and executing the “official” version of the message; all of which sets the stage for customers to base their opinions on—opinions they may choose to share.

Defining what that brand experience ultimately means to the customer is neither the job or privilege of the marketer. It's up to your customers. The more your brand means to them, the more they connect with it. That in turn determines their purchase decision, their loyalty, and whether they feel strongly enough to advocate for the brand in the future.

When marketers control what is said about their product, as in the case of an ad, people view it as biased and self-serving. When a third party, like a customer writes an online review of a product, it's viewed as honest and credible, and THAT is the secret to the power of social media. In a 2009 online survey by Forrester Research showed that “people trusted the purchase advice of strangers online more than TV or print ads.”

Taditional marketing clarifies Social Media
While social media marketing can be great for spreading your message, it has a significant short fall: people don't necessarily spread the same message you would like them to. While its authentic and honest, it may not be a message that fits your strategy and may even be detrimental. Traditional marketing can help to create the foundation of information and guide the brand message as it is passed throughout the social community. By cross promoting the contents of one marketing effort, for example TV with another like social media you increase the “volume” of the message, focus the accuracy and add frequency—thereby maximizing the effectiveness of both efforts.

In a 2008 study by Yankelovich and Sequent Partners called “When Advertising Works,” it was found that “ads that make an impression in traditional media were more likely to stimulate word of mouth than ads that make an impression in digital media.

Social media amplifies traditional marketing
Balancing the free-form messaging of social media with the control, consistency and mass reach of traditional media can offer the best of both worlds. Today the focus needs to be on building an opt-in audience in order to create community, foster loyalty and generate conversations.

A great example of this is a recent promotion by Estée Lauder. They took a free makeover promotion to an entirely new level when they used social media to drive women to participate and later bring awareness to this in-store event.  In order to attract digitally savvy women to the makeup counters at leading department stores, Estée used social media and online PR to offer free makeovers and free professional headshots. After each makeover, women would have a glamour photo taken of them (including of course an Estée Lauder logo in the background) and upload the image as their social profile photo before ever leaving the counter. By uploading the glamorous photo with the logo, the customer introduces her entire social network to the brand, a personalized example of it's benefits and hopefully even spark a few conversations along the way.

Testimonials: the mother load of social media
In a full-page print ad in USA today, Trident made social media the focus of their ad by sharing unsolicited tweets it had received from customers (with their permission) who authentically and passionately tweeted about their new product, Trident Layers. Using testimonials to sell a product is nothing new, but highlighting  the  enthusiastic and unsolicited statements in a nationwide mass marketing print publication reinforces the shift toward integrated marketing strategies.

In each of these cases, marketers integrated traditional marketing with social media to allow the audience to communicate with the brand and with one another, generating more involvement and interest. As markets fragment, an integrated marketing strategy is quickly becoming the essential method to coordinate and focus efforts for greater marketing success.

What do you think?

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