Social media vs traditional advertising

Are you wondering about the impact of social media vs traditional advertising?

Our lens on all advertising and marketing efforts is pretty simple: they should generate business.

Each effort should begin with a strategy, each tactic should support that strategy, and both your strategy and tactics should have measurable goals. Each dollar spent on marketing should return in dividends.

Tracking the return on investment in traditional advertising has historically been a slow process. Outside of direct response, business would wait for the end of the quarter or the end of the fiscal year to track the results of their campaigns.

Online advertising and social media marketing, on the other hand, allows you to track the way your message is resonating in near real-time. That doesn’t mean that tracking the return on investment for social media is any easier. Unless you are using direct response tactics, you won’t be able to put a monetary value on social media efforts, but that’s not always the point.

As the social media mogul, Gary Vaynerchuk has said, “What’s the ROI of your mother?”

Your return on investment in social media is in direct proportion to how you use it.

Social media vs traditional advertising: the feedback loop

In traditional advertising, you are the messenger, your advertisement is the message, and your customer is the receiver.

The flow of traditional advertising is Sender (you) -> Message (your ad) -> Receiver (your audience). Full stop.

With social media, the flow is Sender -> Message -> Receiver -> Sender. There is a feedback loop. This is important.

Social media allows for a conversation between a brand and those who identify with the brand. Where traditional advertising is an uninvited salesman, social media allows your audience to invite you into their lives. The conversations you have with your followers help to form a relationship between them and your brand. Successful social media is about finding and nurturing these relationships.

So, how do you get started?

Be attractive. Don't be unattractive.

Imagine that social media is a high-school cafeteria

Meeting people is easy. The steps to a successful social media campaign are the same steps your mom told you to use to make friends in high school.

You’re the new kid in school and you walk into the cafeteria to see all the tables taken. How do you figure out where to sit?

Scan the room and find the people that look like your crowd.

Introduce yourself. Start a conversation. Make eye contact and smile. Spend time around the people you want to be friends with. Ask questions. Be a good listener. Be trustworthy. Be respectful. Put your best foot forward by emphasizing the good things about you that make you unique. During your conversations, encourage your followers to care about your brand by showing that you care about them. Keep in touch.

You can also think of social media like dating. You don’t want to get down on one knee and propose during your first date. Get to know your date.

Be attractive. Don’t be unattractive.

In the real world, you have likely formed friendships through introductions from other friends. The same is true for your brand online. If you’ve established a positive relationship with your audience, they will want to share your brand with their friends.

Most importantly, in both interpersonal relationships and social media, know who you are and be your authentic self. This is the foundation of branding, and it is the difference between a good company and a great company.

Ian Kennedy

Ian Kennedy


Ian has worked in design and development for twenty years and has formed opinions about both. When he isn’t obsessing and ranting about strategy, design, and development, he’s juggling four kids, teaching programming for a local STEAM school, and working on AthFest 2017. He’s working hard to be attractive. He likes parties with snacks.

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