Digital advertising v social media engagement
Recently I yawned a bit too much when reading a well put together article called “Digital Dreams” in the Sunday Business Post. In general, it attempted to summarise how the Digital Advertising Industry works and how brands should approach engaging with digital.
I was bored primarily because it espouses Google SEO, CPC and display advertising as the key tools of effective digital advertising. So. What’s my problem?
These blunt tools represent an antiquated push model of display and click-through advertising and are no way reflective of the emerging offerings in digital advertising, which are fundamentally based on two-way consumer engagement and interaction.
Whilst it’s very sad to see the likes of advertising industry bellwethers McConnells (traditional) and i-level (digital) sold / liquidated, the fates of these companies are merely indicators of the fundamental restructuring of the traditional and digital advertising industries.
Advertising has always been about influencing the one key person to spread the message to their friends. Consumers are influenced by their peers. The world of advertising communication has now flipped from one-way projection to two-way engagement. Social media makes it easier for word of mouth recommendations to flow from peer to peer. Thus, the effectiveness of one-way advertising diminishes the greater the flow of social conversations.
Social media provides us with mass market media channels to enable the spread of social (word of mouth) influence. The challenge for advertisers is in effectively connecting with the limited number of key influencers in social groups.
Personalisation and socialisation is now the norm and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. In fact, it has always been this way - recent technological offerings have just made it much easier for people to enagage (e.g. Facebook). Privacy debates will continue, but online social is not going anywhere.
All online activities are set to come with the same level of personalisation you get in the local corner shop, by connecting and exposing a users’ social networks of friends and peers. Word of mouth, peer to peer recommendations has always been the primary influence for purchasing. This significantly increases the value of social media, yet the core underlying challenges remain. How do I engage the key influencers? What is the output of my marketing activities in social media? Collectively, we need to find the answers.
With all of this is two-way interactivity between networks, brands need to connect with the connectors in these networks. Whilst in the short term it may pay for a brand to spend on one-way digital advertising, in the medium term, the effectiveness of this form of digital advertising will diminish considerably compared to effective conversation management on social media.
Social media should be leading any form of digital strategy. Without social, digital is just a very blunt messaging tool.