While it might be hard to believe that a group of digital marketers still read printed newspapers, the front page of The Sunday Review of The New York Times caught our attention today with the article, “Can Social Media Sell Soap?” by Stephen Baker.
At Bully Pulpit Interactive we believe in the power of social media marketing and we’ve seen how the full spectrum of digital media– social media, display and search ads – can create results when it comes to persuasion, message delivery and targeting individual behavior to drive bottom line results.
When it comes to advertising on social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or Google, it is important, however, to ask the right questions in order to drive actionable outcomes such as sales, votes, donations, and event attendees. Brands need to think holistically about paid media budgets and avoid using the same metrics to compare every online platform against each other. My colleague, Mark Skidmore, coined this phrase on the topic: “In order to grab attention, you need to buy ads that will drive intention.” Furthermore, when Nielsen reports that 46% of social media users say they use smartphones to access social networks and time on mobile apps/mobile web account for 63% of year-over-year growth in overall time spent using social media – mobile audiences will be key differentiators for social media marketing.
In his opinion piece, Baker writes about the growth of social media marketing and argues that while these new platforms are certainly exciting, he is not convinced they have proven their worth in the marketplace. He writes, “The hopes for such a revolution have fueled a market frenzy around social networks — and have also primed them for a fall… Advertising companies now face pressure to deliver statistical evidence of their success. When they come up short, offering anecdotes in place of numbers, the markets punish them. Faith has given way to doubt.”
In the long term, we agree that social media platforms will still need to provide better ad units and ad experiences if they are to compete with traditional outlets, but the future of social media marketing is promising. And just as the fictional Don Draper thinks about real humans while crafting an advertising campaign — we , too, aim to create a one-to-one relationship with the person on the other end of the screen. By using data-driven ads to craft a narrative, we believe that social media does not only have the ability to sell soap, but as we’ve already proven, it can help to get out the vote – and at least in 2012, that is one action that has certainly made a difference.
Mark Skidmore is a partner and Chief Strategist; Jen Nedeau is a Director at Bully Pulpit Interactive. Learn more here.